Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Year Without A Christmas Concert

It was late June and amid the thoughts of swimming and camping trips I was also listening to Christmas music and ordering songs for the choir. “I must be crazy,” I thought because I hated hearing songs of the season while trying to relax in the summer air. This is not what I was in the mood to be doing. Fishing with the kids, building a fire for roasting marshmallows and making smores, talking to friends on my cell phone while wearing my Indiana Jones hat, those are the reasons for the summer season!

Every choir director has to do this. Nearly every choir I know of starts singing Christmas music before summer is officially over. “…walkin’ in a winter wonderland…”, “Joy to the world…”, “…pa rum pum pum pum…”, “I’m dreaming of a…” can be heard bouncing off the walls of music rooms around the country. Every choir and every director is working towards the climax of a holiday performance to rival the one before and honestly gives no thought to the very next Christmas just 12 short months away.

This year was no different. Everything was moving along as usual. Extra rehearsals, cramming lyrics, pounding out tenor parts. Everything was in order for the concert. No, not just one concert. Many concerts. Many singers. Many accompanists. Many audience members. Many moments and memories. None of them happened this year. I know it sounds dramatic, but have you worked for months on something that at the very last minute is cancelled?

On Sunday at noon it was announced that our church choir concert had been cancelled. On Tuesday at 9 am the e-mail went out that informed everyone that the Voices of Hope Choir benefit concert was cancelled. On Tuesday night the ticker at the bottom of the TV screen notified us that school was cancelled which meant the 1st grade Holiday Concert would be cancelled as well. Wednesday night the same news told us the High School Concert was cancelled and Friday at 5:30 am a text message let us know the concert would not happen tonight either.

Though choirs have been singing Christmas songs since the end of summer they don’t really want to sing them after Christmas. Rescheduling a Christmas concert seems kind of silly. The church is going to try it. Voices of Hope Choir will not. Your guess is as good as mine as to what the schools will do. But right now we are just a bit sad that this was the year without a Christmas concert.

The widespread reason for the cancellations…the beautiful winter white snow fall and the below freezing temperatures. Not since 1979 has it been so cold for so long. Rarely does Portland see snowfall before the biggest holiday of the year. It’s not too often that a snowman can be made on the lawn of Tualatin home. But it happened the year without a Christmas concert.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Hofer Christmas '08

Many of you have been hit hard by the recent downturn in the economy. Some of you that I have heard from have not only lost jobs but have also come to the stark realization that you have not known how to manage your finances well and this is an especially difficult time. I can share your feelings during this season and just feel grateful that I still have a job.

We have decided to totally change our approach to gift giving for the first time. In years past we have worked to get our “Christmas List” ready by Thanksgiving. It meant spending time with the catalog and a notepad. In fact, I’ve watched my kids take a red sharpie and circle most things in the toy section.

We have decided that our shopping will be limited to The Dollar Tree this Christmas. The kids have short lists and if they are blessed with some Christmas money they might use it for things on their lists. However, each of us will spend some time at the store and buy gifts for everyone on our list.

Today I took Grace and Jordan separately. It was amazing as they thought about each person on their list and took time to think about what they like. As we walked the isles it was fun to discover the treasures that they believe will be appreciated as a gift. Sure, I guided them a bit. But they were full of ideas as they saw things in a new light.

Not everyone in my family is convinced that this is a great idea. No names, but the 16 year old apparently hasn’t bought in yet. I think it will be different once we get there and get going.

So there will be not big debt from Christmas. There will be no worries in late January or early February about how we will pay the bill. And we won’t be filling orders this year. We are thinking about what each person might appreciate. Hopefully that is part of some lesson we need to learn this holiday time.

In the spirit of “Advent Conspiracy” ( we are assisting my colleague at work by giving to a family in need. This mother and her 4 kids had to flee an abusive situation and need lots of clothes and could use other things. Each of us has found things that may not be meeting our needs currently but will be a blessing to someone else. In addition to some nice clothes that aren’t being worn any longer, Grace gave a brand new doll. Jordan gave one of his bikes. Ashley had some clothes she never wore for whatever reason. There are books and toys and much more. It feels really good to all of us to give to this family.

We hope that as you celebrate the season in whatever way you choose this Christmas that you keep in mind the Child born to save our souls. God thought of us and gave the ultimate Gift we never expected. In fact, our list included lots of other priorities, yet he knew what was perfect for mankind. For that, we adore Him!