Last year, just before the Holiday Pops concert, a lovely lady said to me: " You know, Christmas just does not begin for any of us until we have come to this concert. We would never ever miss it. It is very special."
I was rushing to go change backstage before the concert, so I thanked this very gracious lady, not knowing if she was referring to her company or her family feeling this way about the Holiday Pops.
However, her compliment stuck in my brain.
The feeling she articulated, is something I, myself, can feel on stage during the performance.
Like our summer concerts, these are concerts where new people come to hear their favorite tunes and yet where families and companies also come time and time again to share something important and fine together. Many come to experience something spiritual and to be a part of something we all crave — tradition.
Perhaps it is the sing-along, where all 2,500 of us sing those pieces that bring all of us together and help us to remember our childhoods, our families, our roots.
Perhaps it is the variety of worship that we can experience as Americans. This year I think that we have the very best Hanukkah medley ever. This year we have a fantastic African Noel. Its source is the west coast of an old Africa and we perform it with only drummers and chorus. Although the text is: "Jesu me kwisa ku zinga ti beto" it still means "Jesus has come to live with us."
We will also play Handel, who back in 1742 with the Messiah, was telling us almost the same thing, "for unto us a child is born," but in a completely different style.
Some people, when I ask them after the concert what they liked best, might say that they liked the piece made famous by Josh Groban, "You Raise Me Up." Others will say that they liked things that were simply holiday-in-spirit and tons of fun like "Reindeer Rock."
Why not gather up your entire family, scoop up your sweetheart, or grab a neighbor and come join us in an evening that has so much to do with remembering who we are and knowing just how grand it feels when Santa comes out to bellow his first "HO HO HO!"?
Who — and what — could make you smile more?
When you ask me what my fondest moment of the concert will be, this is tough, as I tried to select a program brim full of what I hoped would be YOUR favorites. However, just maybe I would have to say it will turn out to be that moment when Santa comes out to introduce the 75 children from Protsman Elementary who are going to sing for him.
Or perhaps the piece that follows that. It is a lullaby. A lullaby to take the children to the land of sleep, to take the child in all of us to a place of innocence, humility, generosity of spirit that is the tradition of Americans for all our Decembers together.