Years ago at church, our pastor showed a video during his sermon that a simple 8-note scale contained the best news in the world. That image has stuck with me, a piano-dropout myself from years ago. The narrator ignores his mother’s gentle attempt to bring him into the world of piano, and like every piano dropout in the world, he lives to regret that choice and wishes he had listened to his mother. (Don’t we all?) Her message comes through loud and clear at the end of the short, three minute video. You can view the video, called “The Christmas Scale,” here.
This year, my daughter and I are breaking new theatrical ground as we have joined our church’s production of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, a hysterical play with an opportunity for the audience to see the wonder of Christmas through the eyes of an unruly bunch of children who have never heard the Christmas story from the Bible. I will play the role of Grace, a mother who has been tasked with directing the Christmas pageant, which should have been an easy job except that the Herdmans, a family of six wild, crazy kids, show up and take the main roles of the pageant… Predictably, chaos and hilarity ensue.
My 7 year old daughter Sarah, an angel in her own right, is one of the baby angels in the play. She will be herded on and off the stage by bigger kids and her little choir will sing the first verse of several familiar Christmas hymns at the play-within-the-play. We were practicing in the car the other day, and she has decided she doesn’t want any help with the words. And then came “Joy to the World.”
She sang clearly and beautifully in the back seat of my SUV:
“Joy to the world, the Lord is come. In every… single… thing!“
Embarrassingly for me, my first reaction was to correct her. “Baby, it’s ‘Let earth receive her King.'” But the more I thought about it, the more I loved Sarah’s version, made all the better by her blue-eyed, blonde-headed innocence. I think Sarah is right. Baby Jesus is in every… single… thing.
This will be a tough year for my family on both sides. These are the first holidays we will have without my precious father-in-law Charlie, whom we lost in June to cancer. Our son, Charlie Tate, is named for him, and I have always been proud that Charlie seemed to take so much joy in Tate’s antics, and to share the mischief of his namesake. We also lost my grandmother Keyes, age 95, in January of this year. She was a writer, a philanthropist, a devoted wife and mother. I see her everywhere…in me, Sarah, my mom, my cousin Randle, my aunts…
And I’m happy for Keyes. And I’m happy for Charlie. And I’m terribly sad for those of us they’ve left behind. We miss them every day, we wish we could pick up the phone, we wish for one more…of anything. But…I’m deciding to choose joy… in every… single… thing.
When the holidays feel like a little too much, when I’m stressed out about everything we’ve taken on this Christmas, when my kids argue, when they make messes (constantly!), when I’m feeling sorry for myself, even though I have absolutely nothing to complain about, I remember Sarah’s song: in every… single… thing. And I will think back to “The Christmas Scale,” where the best news in the world can be found in an 8-note scale.