Rita Henley Jensen

NEW YORK (WOMENSENEWS)–Amid the end-of-year work pressures of this season, I usually squeeze in a few hours to actually enjoy the rich smorgasbord of music filling the churches, halls, auditoriums, subway stations and street corners throughout Manhattan. I even enjoy listening to the hundredth replay of the “Little Drummer Boy” on the radio if I happen to be in a car.

It was not to be this year.

A family member’s trip to the emergency room and immediate surgery upset all plans to attend concerts or even shove in a favorite CD.

No time to watch a broadcast and lip synch along with the Messiah either. (The family member is now on the mend and by the time you read this I expect my days will have become more routine.)

Given the circumstances, I decided at the E.R. that old rituals, no matter how beautiful or comforting, can also be constraining.

So this year, as my attention was drawn inside the family circle, I listened instead to the spontaneous music of my grandchildren’s voices during a weekend in the woods, far from the cosmopolitan acoustics of New York.

My 2-year-old namesake would only sled down the hill with her big 9-year-old cousin. Together, the oldest and the youngest zoomed down the 100-feet of a snow-covered hill in the first winter’s snow over and over again. The little one sang out her delight each time the sled took off and the older one’s gentle laugh of pride and love provided the harmony.

Very much in tune, my younger grandson, age 4, later sat next to me on the sofa and crayoned a highly detailed picture for me: A house, yes, with a bedroom for his mommy and daddy, one for him and his sister, one for me as well, and also a tree “with lots of fruits,” he explained, and a sky full of snow clouds so we all could go sledding.

My daughter’s younger daughter, a first-grader, provided the recitative throughout the time I spent with her, commenting on and explaining the relationships of all who were with her. “That how things go with me and my brother,” she shrugged when he took her turn at text-messaging on my cell phone. She and I also sang a duet when she was doing her reading homework and we wrestled with the pronunciation of new words together.

I wound up enjoying this year’s haphazard music often with the same piercing pleasure that in other years I might have experienced when a countertenor sang Alleluia.

Here’s hoping you too had music to enjoy–whether you celebrate Hanukkah, Eid al-Adha, Christmas and Three Kings Day or none of the above–and that the noise of everyday distress does not drown out the joyful music in your life.

Rita Henley Jensen is editor in chief of Women’s eNews.

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For more information:

“Joy ‘R’ Us, Even at Darkest Time of Year”:

“Holiday Message from Rita Henley Jensen”:

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