I’m settling in. The day is winding down. All the snow’s been shoveled, the gifts are wrapped, the tree watered, the cards organized, the rum poured over the fruitcake. The cd player on our stereo system finally gave up the ghost three nights ago, but this morning, the Fedex man appeared miraculously with a replacement I hadn’t expected until well past the weekend.
So, we’re listening to one of Harvey Reid’s Christmas CDs. Harvey, along with his wife, Joyce Anderson have been producing their own acoustic music for years. They live in Maine, sells their CDs and do concerts occasionally when they have the time, I suppose. The music is uplifting and relaxing at the same time. It catches me off-guard, as it does every year — feeling thankful for the Season despite myself.
In the days before Padraigh brought the story of Jesus to the Irish, this time of year was referred to in the common Celtic tongue as Yule. It was observed as a time of rest and re-grouping, gathering the family’s strength together to think about the year that had gone before, and prepare for the coming Spring. Fires were kept burning until the days got longer, and the sun began to do its job full-time again.
It’sd no wonder that the new Church thought it was a good idea to embrace this existing tradition and assign to it a proper religious celebration. Despite the excesses and stresses that have evolved to become identified with this time of year, the ancients really were on to something. I ‘m sure that what I look forward to every year as the Holidays approach is primarily the gathering together, the "holing up" with loved ones, a cup of spirits and the thoughts of the year past. It may be distracted by the large-scale celebrations, but the smaller, intimate observance of our need to rest is the one that propels me through the Yule ’til the Spring.
Traditionally, most cultures also make plans, or set goals, or see the new year as a new chance to grow and prosper in new ways. It just seems like the proper time to prepare for change. I’m not much of one for New Year’s Resolutions. They;re usually impossible to keep, anyway, but thinking about Harvey Reid and his music — completely independently produced, and of exquisite quality despite the lack of a huge budget for promotion and publicity.
I’m making one resolution. I’m going to experiment with the music and writing I buy over the next year. I’m not going to buy anything that is produced or published by a Big Operation. I’m going to buy only books that are either self published or from small presses, nor will I buy music that comes from the Big Record Companies. I’ll look for music the musicians themselves have produced.
At the end of the year, I’ll see if I’ve lost any entertainment, been bored by the music or found any of the writing wanting, shallow or second rate in any way. I expect I’ll enjoy my purchases just as much as I would had I succumbed to media-blitz advertising, publicity and high-powered, celebrity endorsed, "buzz".
We’ll see. Have a restful and happy Yule.