May the songs of the season fill your heart with joy

Christmas carollers

Carollers at the mill in Delta, Ontario

One of the greatest joys this time of year is the music of the holiday season. Sadly, I’ve heard a lot of pathetic Christmas songs on the radio lately (what are some of these artists thinking?)

Music has always been a huge part of the holidays for me. This year, I’ve been to five events and concerts. While I enjoy the kids’ school concerts and piano recitals, my favourite concerts have been our local church cantata, and the Kingston Choral Society’s concert of the Messiah at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts in Kingston, which was magnificent. This Thursday, I’m hoping to catch one of the final advent lunchtime concerts at St. George’s cathedral with guitar player Jeff Hanlon.

Here are a few interesting facts about seasonal music:

  • The singer who sang “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” Thurl Ravenscroft was the same singer/actor who was the voice of Tony the Tiger, the mascot for Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes “
  • The word carol actually means dance or a song of praise and joy. Carols used to be written and sung all year-round, but over time, the tradition of singing carols is now associated with Christmas.
  • Many modern-day Christmas songs were actually written by Jewish composers like Irving Berlin and Johnny Marks
  • Jingle Bells was actually written to celebrate Thanksgiving (my Ryerson alumni team got this answer wrong at a recent trivia night)
  • If you’re looking for some last minute gifts, Sia, 98 Degrees, Josh Groban and Gwen Stefani all have new Christmas albums out this year.

This week’s #HappyAct is to listen to old familiar carols play and songs of joyful ring. What’s your favourite Christmas song? Leave a comment.

Church concert

Christmas concert at Trinity United Church in Verona

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Stand on your desk

St. George's Cathedral

St. George’s cathedral in Kingston in full autumn glory

I was watching a biography on the great Robin Williams. They showed that memorable scene from Dead Poets Society where he stands on his desk and asks his students why, and he replies, “I stand upon my desk to remind myself that we must constantly look at things in a different way.”

It’s easy to not see what is before our eyes. Case in point. I was driving home the other night and for the first time, saw a bright red roof of a barn shimmering in the late day sun. I had never seen that roof before even though I drive the same route twice a day, five days a week, fifty weeks of the year.

Sometimes we need to make a conscious effort to see things from a new perspective. The risk if we don’t stand on our desks from time to time is feeling uninspired, unfulfilled, bored and unhappy.

This week’s #HappyAct is to stand on your desk and challenge yourself to look at things with a fresh eye. If you’re not into standing on your desk, try this. Every day this week, on your daily walk or commute, pause and look at your surroundings with fresh eye. What did you discover? Leave a comment. Here’s what I found one day on a quick walk around the block from my office.

Limestone carriageway

A limestone carriageway, from the days of horse and carriages.

Doorway

One of the many beautiful doorways of Kingston

Frontenac Club Inn

The Frontenac Club Inn on King and William Streets. Note the plaque on the wall–this is the first time I’ve ever stopped to read it, even though I’ve passed it a million times. It is dedicated to the men of the Frontenac Club who fought in the second world war. I learned the Frontenac Club was made up of leading Kingstonians, garrison officers, faculty and officers of Queen’s University and Royal Military College and was closed in the 1930s when the depression hit.