As a kid growing up in Louisiana, you never knew whether you’d be wearing shorts or sweaters for Christmas, so it was sometimes difficult to get in the "holiday spirit" you see depicted in cards and commercials.
No snow-capped trees, no children sledding happily down icy hills — no snow at all, as a matter of fact. We used to spray fake snow on our Christmas tree to create the illusion of winter. I can still smell it.
The one surefire way to make it feel like Christmas was music. Even if the air conditioning was on, you could still plug in the tree lights, crank up the record player (yes, I'm that old) and pretend people were bundled up and bustling around, doing wintry activities.
Although my childhood copy of Gene Autry's "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer" is one of the few LPs I've held onto, my warmest memories are of late nights watching the lights create colorful patterns on the ceiling while listening to George Frideric Handel's Messiah. I was the only night owl in my family, and also the only classical music lover, so this quiet time was mine alone.
Over the years the musical selection has broadened, but that quiet time watching the lights and listening to music is still an important part of the holidays for me. And it's those stolen moments of quiet in a busy season that I've tried to capture as my gift to you.
Please join me Christmas morning at 7 for The Peace of the Season for a gentle start to a festive day.
I'm usually the first one up, getting the turkey ready to roast and making sure the house is ready and the side dishes prepped. It's another moment of quiet before the guests begin to arrive and things get merry — and loud. I hope you enjoy this as a quiet start to your day, maybe with a cup of coffee, contemplating the beautifully wrapped presents under the tree before they are excitedly ripped open.
You'll hear some ethereal unaccompanied choral music, the gentle sound of the harp, a beloved Christmas concerto and some of my favorite tender carols. I’ll share with you the Kathleen Battle and Christopher Parkening recording that is a holiday tradition for my family gatherings today. And I'll play for you a performance by Chanticleer that always reminds me of how generous people can be.
When I was living in California, the parents of a coworker offered to take me to hear Chanticleer for my first Christmas in town. They didn’t know me, but they knew I was 2,000 miles from friends and family. And when those gorgeous voices started swirling through the cathedral, it felt like Christmas.
I'll be spending this Christmas back in Texas with dear friends. As we listen together to The Peace of the Season, please know I’m thinking of you and hoping this gift of music makes your day special.
Join Cheryl Dring for The Peace of the Season at 7 a.m. Monday, Dec. 25 on Classical 101.