I love Christmas! I love the decorations, I love Christmas trees and nativities and villages and snowglobes and nutcrackers and wreaths. And I love Christmas music. This year KOSY 106.5 played Christmas music 24/7 starting right after Thanksgiving. My boss asked my co-worker and I if we were going to listen to Christmas music all day every day until Christmas and we both unanimously answered, "YES!" We never got tired of it.
Preparing for Christmas is stressful however, and that stress starts in October when I, as music director for my ward, try to find Christmas music appropriate for an amateur choir with very few members, low bases and few tenors. Choir music just isn't written for low bases, I don't know why. Anyway, after I finally find a few songs for the choir, I also have to plan something for the Young Women and several smaller groups or specialty numbers. Coordinating all that is quite an undertaking. Just asking people is hard for me.
I found a song that I have liked for a couple of years. I wanted to sing it, but it was a solo and I don't do solos. So I decided to write an alto part to it and asked Jessica to sing it with me. She surprised me and said she would. Writing the part came very quickly and was so fun because it weaved under, around and even above the melody. Practicing with Jessica was actually a time of peace and even pleasure between her and I. It reminded me of when I used to sing with Mom. Sigh.
Once that was underway, then I had to plan the program - yes, I do the entire program too. This is my third year in charge. The first year I just had narrators reading the scripture story and plunked songs here and there - not too hard. The second year was about the story of the songs themselves - when they were written, why, by whom, etc. That took much more research and preparation, but I think it turned out great.
This year I didn't know what to do. I was feeling very overwhelmed and somewhat alone in the undertaking. I have been missing my parents and feeling the maybe imaginary pressure of being the head (oldest) of my family. I've struggled with my own children and husband and house, and feeling somewhat distant from the Spirit - kind of like "why must this be so hard and why aren't you helping me Lord?" I hadn't been reading the scriptures, let my Ensign subscription lapse, and would often fall asleep without saying my personal prayers at night. It's amazing how quickly those basics can become overlooked and undone. I realize now that it was me that had pulled away from the Spirit.
But I did pray for help with the program. I feel responsible for creating a spiritual, uplifting, touching program to make Christmas special for everyone, and I knew I needed my Savior's help. I paid close attention to a special Christmas Relief Society lesson that touched me. Several sisters were asked to read parts, each one of a woman in the Christmas story - Elizabeth, Mary, a shepherd's wife, the innkeeper's wife, Mary's mother, Joseph's mother. The words were a "story" but based on scripture and history and it was beautiful and really touched my heart.
It got me thinking about my program. I needed help and was prompted to look up the words of the prophets. So I searched the online Ensign archives and read a lot of Christmas talks. I found one called the Twelve Witnesses, which was about the actual witnesses of the Christmas story, their testimonies of the Savior's birth from the scriptures. It was wonderful and perfect for my program, so I re-arranged it and edited it and put together my program. It came together in one night. I fit the songs and some of the scriptures in and I felt it would be wonderful. Not me, but the direction of the Spirit was wonderful. What a testimony to me that the Lord loves me and knew the desire of my heart to put on a wonderful program for Him and the ward, that He would bless me in this way.
Many people have told me for weeks how much they enjoyed the program, how the choir sounded great, even that Jessica and I sounded good. I made my mother-in-law cry again, which is always a good sign. I'm so glad the Lord helped me. My prayers were answered. I feel the Spirit close around me again. My testimony has been strengthened.
I love Christmas!