‘Twas the Sunday before Christmas and all through the house, sugar cookie crumbs left all over the floor for our resident mouse. Christmas crafts were done and hung to dry by the chimney with care, with the hope that Auntie Allison, Uncle Brian, Auntie Holly, and Uncle Greg soon would be there.
But there were papers to grade and presents to wrap and a husband to pack off again for a work trip. When suddenly, what to my eyes did appear, was the the ABC special, The Sound of Music–oh dear! The papers, the presents, and the traveling husband would need to take a back seat.
The Sound of Music. “Doe a deer, a female deer. Ray, a drop of golden sun. Me, a name I call myself. Fa, a long, long way to run.” Doesn’t ring a bell? How about, “I am 16 going on 17”? Or, the Christmas classic, “When the dog bites, when the bees sting, when I’m feeling sad…I simply remember my favorite things and then I don’t feel so bad.” This film? One of my favorite things for sure. These lyrics are like old friends, and revisiting them on a cold, winter Sunday fills me with warmth and gratitude. On the nights we don’t read before bed because I am too tired (first, go ahead and gasp that I’m a teacher who doesn’t read EVERY night with her kids), each child makes a choice to sing “Edelweiss” or “You know how long I’ve loved you” by the Beatles. These have become two of their favorite things, next to snowy days spent skiing, sledding, and fort building like yesterday.
I learned on one of our first or second dates that The Sound of Music was also one of Geoff’s favorite things, and that he had actually been in the musical at his high school. This fun detail helped him to secure another date with me. My best friend and I drove my younger brother crazy, waffling between singing the sound track for Sound of Music and Grease and Dirty Dancing. Clearly, we were filled with the sound of music, much to his dismay.
One of the best memories from our wedding was when Geoff’s best friend, also named Jeff, and his sister, Allison, passed out lyrics to “Edelweiss,” the Austrian folk song about a simple wildflower, to all of our guests who then sang to us at our reception in the White Mountains of NH. I can’t remember if music played in the background, but I know the singing of this song by our loved ones will remain with us forever.
And so maybe the reasons the television “powers to be”showcase this around Christmas is like Easter’s Ten Commandments. The Sound of Music reminds us of the gifts we share with the world, even when your play clothes are made of curtains. The detached, absentee dad with the unlikable girlfriend, whose children barely know him, on top of missing their mom, is then reconnected to them through the power of music. There is the young, innocent love of Liesel until she realizes Rolf isn’t the young man she believes him to be, and this is heartbreaking. Yet, we watch, knowing she will survive this– in the same way, her family will escape the Nazis by running up and over the hills to cross into Switzerland. We are reminded of all the people who did not survive this war–who won’t survive our current tragedies– whose music was forced from their souls long before their lives ended.
But the Sound of Music, just like Christmas– or our belief in any God, or even Santa Claus and the magic of Christmas– is not for the pessimists of the world; it’s for those who believe in love, hope, and, maybe, even faith in all that is good. Their voices, especially those of Christopher Plummer and Julie Andrews, lifted in song, buoy our spirits right along with our little children. And if your Elf on the Shelf helps you to get there too, so be it. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, and best wishes for health, peace and love in the New Year. And please, let’s remember some extra prayers for the innocent children around the world whose countries are shattered by war and whose families are torn apart by grief. Here is to peace in the coming year.
*Note: I’ll be taking a little time off over vacation to visit with both Geoff’s sister and brother- in- law visiting from London, along with my brother and sister- in- law and nieces. Family time comes first, but WHEN #ellendegeneres lets me know she has read my Christmas letter, I’ll be sure to share.