Friday, December 22, 2006

...and to all a goodnight

Christmas is here again. Wow, where did this year go?! So much has happened this year. By far the best thing was Carlos and Jeremiah coming home in January. These two little guys have changed our lives in so many ways – most of them good. Carlos has grown from a somewhat shy little boy who spoke no English to an EXTREMELY extraverted 5 year-old who will talk your ear off (mostly in the form of a question). Although he has his share of “orneriness,” he is such a thoughtful boy who looks out for his mommy and little brother. His “love language” is definitely giving things to people. He seems to always have a surprise for me when I get home in the form of a card that he had made, complete with envelope, or wanting to give me one of his toys as a special surprise. If I forget to take something with me to work one day, he’ll re-gift it the next day.

Watching Jeremiah learn new things is a constant source of joy for me. Perhaps one of my favorite things was when he learned about dogs. Anytime he sees one, hears one, or thinks he sees or hears one, he’ll look at me, point in the direction of said dog, (imaginary or otherwise) and make his barking sounds, which sounds something like “Oooo, oooo.” He is constantly wanting to do whatever Carlos is doing. If Carlos is racing around the house with his truck, Jeremiah wants to as well. If Carlos is reading, Jeremiah wants to read. And even when he’s in trouble, he sometimes gets this silly, goofy grin that makes it really hard (not impossible!) to enforce discipline.

My wonderful wife is as beautiful as ever. She is the best wife, mommy and friend in the world. Even though the switch in full-time jobs has been challenging at times, she has been so great at adapting to mommy-hood. She is an excellent teacher with Carlos, helping him to learn his letters and numbers. I really don’t know how she finds time to do all the stuff she does. I love you, sweetheart!

I was going to blog about the stupidity that invariably accompanies this time of year (such as the so-called “war on Christmas”), but I think we hear enough of that from the talking heads. So instead I leave you with this:

Merry Christmas to all!!*


Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low-stress, non-addictive, gender-neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasion and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all.

I also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2007, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make America great – not to imply that America is necessarily greater than any other country nor the only America in the Western Hemisphere – and without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith or sexual preference of the wishee.

By accepting these greetings you are accepting these terms. This greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal. It is freely transferable with no alteration to the original greeting. It implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the wishes for herself or himself or others, and is void where prohibited by law and is revocable at the sole discretion of the wisher.

This wish is warranted to perform as expected within the usual application of good tidings for a period of one year or until the issuance of a subsequent holiday greeting, whichever comes first, and warranty is limited to replacement of this wish or issuance of a new wish at the sole discretion of the wisher.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Christmas Music

I like Christmas music probably about as much as your average guy does. I’m not the kind of person that wants to start playing it while everyone is setting up their stuff for Halloween and stop playing when we celebrate Memorial Day. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but in my opinion, there’s only so many different arrangements you can do (and listen to!) of Silver Bells, Silent Night & Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire. These get real old, real quick. My wife would probably call me a scrooge for this, but I’m glad that all radio stations don’t play Christmas music 24-7 during the month of December.

There is one exception, however – the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. If there was a radio station that played nothing but TSO year round, I would have it preset to my #1 station on my truck radio. Now, before you think that there is some hope for me after all, be warned that TSO is not exactly what you would call traditional. TSO is similar to the Mannheim Steamroller. Except on steroids. TSO is what you would get if you crossed Metalica and Nat King Cole. But even then, their style is as varied as it is non-traditional.

For example, in the beautifully stirring Christmas Canon (, you have a simple orchestral piece set to Pachabel’s Canon accompanied by a children’s choir. If you can watch the video or listen to this piece without being touched, perhaps you should check your pulse.

Compare that with their "O Come All Ye Faithful/O Holy Night" ( ) arrangement (my absolute favorite of theirs) and you’re probably left wondering if this is the same group. But even in this ramped up version of two beloved Christmas hymns, you are still left almost breathless at the beauty of the music. Even if the musicians didn’t intend on conveying this thought, in listening to this piece I’m left with the impression that perhaps in Heaven it wasn’t a “Silent Night” on that Christmas evening, but one of majestic triumph and celebration as the pivotal point of all history comes to fruition in the birth of Jesus Christ. As I listen to the song, I imagine the shepherds out in the fields, listening as the angel of God proclaims “I bring you good news” with eager anticipation of when the entire angelic chorus will join him in singing “Glory to God in the Highest!!” The song then reverts back at the end to the shepherds immediately after the sky turns dark again, the excitement still there, but focusing once more on a bunch of lowly shepherds filled with nervous curiosity and brimming with the desire to go find the Messiah.

They have so many other original scores and arrangements of traditional songs too that run the entire spectrum of style. So if you’re into non-traditionally traditional music, you’ve got to check out the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.