Grinch-monsterdom – that time between Halloween (it used to be Thanksgiving) and Christmas when I turn into a miserable Grumpy Pants because the country has gone from normalcy to insanity with the addition of red and green lights strewn over the trees outside and the repetitive playing of “festive” music inside every store. In the past couple of decades, I have found a few simple ways to make life more manageable, such as avoiding all retail stores like the plague and hosting personal competitions for Christmas decorations. (The winning scores go to those who display the most beautiful decorations/lights without being overdone or offensive.) For the past few years, however, I have had an additional source of refuge. Every Thursday night, I go to chorus rehearsals and sing with Koleinu, Boston’s Jewish Community Chorus. This time of year, being a part of Boston’s non-audition Jewish chorus reminds me that – as a Jew during Christmas season – I am not alone.
This year is no exception. Once again, the director, Carol Marton, has selected gorgeous songs and rousing tunes for the chorus to sing. When I walk into rehearsals, the outside world temporarily slips away and the voices of the chorus dance around me, filing my mouth and my heart with joy as I join the other members to create intoxicating harmonies in Hebrew, English, and Yiddish.
The past couple of rehearsals have been particularly exciting. Koleinu is preparing for our annual winter performance and this year, our December concert falls on the last day of Hanukkah! In addition to the psalms, folk songs, and contemporary choral arrangements that we typically sing, we have also been practicing a number of fantastic Hanukkah melodies we’ll include in a sing-along portion of concert. And while playing up Hanukkah in response to the over-commercialization of Christmas has never made much sense to me, singing great jingles with like-minded people has definitely helped to take away some of this year’s holiday blues.
On Sunday, December 16, if you are hoping to find your own release from the Christmas spirits, please join me in singing with Koleinu in our “Hanukkah Halleluya!” Concert. The magic of our music begins at 4 pm at Temple Reyim (1860 Washington Street) in Newton. For more information, please visit http://koleinu.org/.
As you light your menorahs/hanukiot this week, I wish you happiness, health, and harmony. May you find music in your hearts and peace in your souls as I have done by singing with Koleinu. And may you be free of any grinch-monsterdom that attempts to sneak up on you between now and that movie and Chinese food you are anticipating on December 25.
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