Thursday, December 19, 2013


   Remember the old Coke commercial, "I'd like to teach the world to sing...?" Well, I'd like to invite the world to see what we have come to know as an extraordinarily wonderful evening, the Strings in the Chapel concert on the hill over looking Cambria's east village.
   I've posted here the last two years: Local Magic, 2011
and As Good As It Gets, 2012.  This year it was even more so.   

    There is a special joy to climbing the steep hill to the 140 year old Santa Rosa Chapel, festooned in lights and candles. In a sense it is as though moving from modernity to a wrinkle in the cosmic continuum where all Christmas moments meld.
    Jude Johnstone gathers extraordinary string players who weave a garland of sound and sentiment that fills the little wooden chapel with the exquisite richness of the season. Augmented by the vocals of Jude and daughter Ra Duncan hearts are lifted and spirits are thrilled. In the glow of the candles it is easy to forget whether it is the 19th, 20th or 21st Century.  
     Bruce Black's stories of his Grandmother and his emotional telling of the 'Twas The Night Before Christmas evoke memories that trigger time machines in the listener's hearts.
     The highlight for Lana and me is the beautiful poignancy of Judith Larmore's meditation decorated with her vivid remembrance of moments from Christmas season's past. Her words are emotional poetry as she transported us to snowy Indiana winters and drew from those days a story about kindness. Her Indiana roots, the fact her small town was my Mother's home and her lovely way of painting word pictures again found the way to moisten my eyes and lift my heart with a true Advent moment.
     Jude prepared a medley of Sting arrangements and tunes interpreted by the master string players, harpist and vocals of mom and daughter. A muted trumpet played on this set and I wish I could hear it all again!
     I'd like the world to hear, and see and feel this Christmas magic that happens beneath Pines, tucked between the Santa Lucia Mountains and the Pacific.  Our Christmas gift has come early, again.
     I read Leanne Italie's Associated Press report with a chuckle.  She recounts how some young parents wrestle with keeping the Elf on the Shelf phenomenon working in their homes.  A few years ago an enterprising woman self published the Elf on the Shelf guide complete with an elf that "moves around the house" keeping an eye on little junior or sissy, helping them to be good little boys and girls. It seems remembering the elf on the shelf practices can add stress to the season.  Well,...
     Way back now.  Long before this product came on the market, our daughters Kristin and Katherine had their own elf experience.  It seems that each Christmas season a new  Santa figure would mysteriously show up, some place near their rooms.  Furthermore, a little closer to Christmas Eve they would find elfin tinsel or an elf figure in their respective rooms.  And then on Christmas morning they would discover that the "right jolly old elf" himself had somehow lost a piece of his fur trimming someplace around the tree or fireplace. There was a year as well, when old Santa left a jingle bell for each of them.  As there is an 11 year different between them, this ritual played for good number of years.  Never any stress though.  But you know, since the girls have grown, the elves have not been around with a new Santa, nor has he lost any fur.  I guess, given the number of Santas we collected, that is just fine.  Storage space issues in a retired boomers home you know! 

    See you down the trail.  


  1. Over half of the linen closet in our laundry room is filled with Christmas decorations and then I must mention the 3 large plastic storage containers in the garage and the old ship's locker at the end of the upstairs hall, oh I almost forgot blowing out fuses when I plugged the light strings in this year.

  2. With a move in progress, we didn't have to be concerned with decorating this year. But we still have two tiny artificial trees around.

  3. It seems that every year we put up more Christmas trim. This year I asked Mrs. C. if we should put out the manger since we seem to have lost the baby Jesus. Not much point putting it up without Him. But Mrs. C. spent three or four hours and wouldn't give up until she found Him.