Posts Tagged "Christmas music"

Holiday Music, Orpheus and Eurydice

Dear Kid,

Happy Music Time of Year! Holidays and Orpheus DearKidLoveMom.comJust in case you hadn’t been paying attention, it is a musical time of year. More than any other time of year, the whole world (and by “the whole world” I mean everywhere I go) is playing holiday music. As long as they avoid the singing chipmunks (yes, I know there’s a new movie, and no, I don’t plan to go see it) and the barking dogs, I’m pretty happy with holiday music.

Speaking of musicians (I wasn’t really, but it would be polite of you not to bother pointing that out), Once Upon A Time, there was a musician named Orpheus. He was a Greek and famous (you can tell he was Greek because of the “pheus” and you can tell he was famous because I’m talking about him lo these many years later).

Orpheus was the greatest of all mortal musicians (remember, dearest, that one doesn’t want to boast about being better at anything than the gods). Not only did people stop whatever they were doing to listen to him, animals did as well. Even the rivers stopped running and the rocks stopped rocking to sit still and listen when Orpheus sang.

Orpheus sailed on the Argo, and performed all sorts of musical magic on that voyage, but that’s not today’s story.

Eventually, Orpheus fell in love with Eurydice (she was a wood nymph but Orpheus was in love and didn’t care about her habit of being part tree), and Orpheus and Eurydice decided to get married.

On their wedding day (either right before or right after depending on which version you read), Eurydice was bitten by a viper (ouch) and died. But Orpheus was in love and didn’t care about her habit of being dead, so he decided to go to the underworld and get back his bride.

Taking his lyre (he was a most extraordinary musician you will remember), Orpheus set out for the underworld.

What I don’t understand is how all these heroes managed to find the underworld. It’s not like they had GPS back then. And there weren’t a lot of signs saying “This Way to the Underworld” like there would have been if the entrance to Hades was in Las Vegas.

Back to our story. While he was wandering around, Orpheus the Brokenhearted was playing sad, sad music. So sad that the gods got together and said “This is worse than barking dogs Christmas carols! Someone show him the entrance to Hades!”

Down to the underworld went Orpheus. At every obstacle, he played his lyre and sang beautifully and charmed the pants off his way through. Eventually, he got to Hades and his wife Persephone (it was that time of year and she was in residence). Orpheus played for them and they agreed that he could take Eurydice back to the Land of the Living.

But (you knew there had to be a “but” right? This is Greek mythology and happily ever afters aren’t in huge supply). But there was a condition. Eurydice would follow Orpheus on the long and treacherous hike back up, BUT he must not look back at her along the way. Not even once. Not even a tiny peek. No matter how much he wanted to. No peeking at all.

This seemed like a no brainer to Orpheus mostly because he didn’t have a choice. Off he set, playing his lyre to keep the scary things away and to let Eurydice know where to follow.

Have you ever been told not to do something? Have you ever been told not to do something that is the One Thing In the World, Nay, the Universe that you want to do more than anything else? It’s hard not to do. It gets harder the longer you have to refrain from doing it. It gets even harder if you don’t really trust the people who told you not to do the Thing. Orpheus was having a hard time.

He strained to hear Eurydice behind him. He heard nothing (mostly because shades don’t make any sound when they walk) and partly because he had to keep playing. Orpheus kept walking.

He really, really, really wanted to look back and make sure Eurydice was there. But he didn’t dare because he knew he would lose her forever if he so much as peeked. Orpheus was having a Really Tough Day.

Finally, finally Orpheus reached the entrance (or in this case the exit) to the underworld and stepped out into the glorious sunshine. (Trust me. If you’ve been to the underworld, even a gloomy day will seem like glorious sunshine.)

As soon as he stepped out, Orpheus spun around to see Eurydice. BUT (you knew there was a “but” right?) she was still on the path in the cave. He had turned too soon, and no sooner had he seen her when—whoosh—away she faded, murmuring “farewell.”

Orpheus (of course) tried to rush after her and (of course) was not allowed to (one trip to the underworld per live musician).

Life pretty much went downhill for Orpheus from there. He wandered around the world (and by “the world” I mean ancient Greece) avoiding people and playing for the animals, trees, and rocks. This was wonderful for the animals, trees, and rocks, but rocks are rarely asked their opinion and almost never listen to when they give it. Which makes them perfectly qualified to be music critics.

Eventually, the Maenads ripped him limb from limb. His head went on to be an oracle and the Muses buried his body at the base of Olympus where—to this day—the nightingales sing more sweetly than anywhere else.

If you happen to be traveling by the base of Mount Olympus, be sure to stop and listen to the nightingales.

In the meantime, hope you hear good music today.

Love, Mom



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Rudolph the Red Nosed What?

Dear Kid,

Once upon a time, there was a little reindeer with a cold. Because he blew his nose all the time, it turned very red and almost glowed.

That’s not the real story.

Once upon a time, there was a Viking named Rudolph. Because of the color of his beautiful beard, he was known as Rudolph the Red. On one trip he visited Santa at the N. Pole and people used to say, “Rudolph the Red Knows Reindeer.”

Not the real story either.

Once upon a time there was a rabbit with a red nose and …

Nope. Still not the story.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer by Robert MayOnce upon a 1939 there was a big department store called Montgomery Ward. They asked one of their copywriters to create a children’s Christmas story that they could give away to all the children who came to visit Santa. Rudolph (other name options considered were Rollo and Reginald) was a huge success.

After several years and several million copies of the book, a major publisher asked Montgomery Ward for the rights to the book.

In an act that defies modern business practices, somehow Bob persuaded Montgomery Ward to give back all the right to the book back. Seriously. And Bob got rich. Then Bob’s brother-in-law (Bob was remarried by then) wrote the song Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. A lot of celebrities didn’t want to record it, but Gene Autry (he was a famous singing cowboy in those days) recorded it and it sold more copies than any other Christmas song (except for White Christmas which is the perennial Numero Uno on the Xmas List).

Happy Reindeer.

Love, Mom

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Snow and the Coolest Innovation of the Year

Dear Kid,

Learning and innovation go hand in hand. DearKidLoveMom.comWe had the first snow of the year fall this week. The snow that fell on the streets melted quickly, but enough stuck to the grass and plants to make everything look frosted and wintery. Booker had a marvy time bounding through the drifts (there was enough snow to cover his paws if he sank into the grass a little), his ears flapping behind him, and a big dopey grin on his little face.

The asparagus plants were particularly pretty. The snow had mostly melted and refrozen and their fern-like fronds were outlined in ice. Pur-ty. I forgot to take my camera with me on my early walk and by the time I went out later the magic was gone. You’ll have to use your imagination.

Christmas music has started on Sirius XM (in case you’re interested). I love Christmas music, but turning it on this early in the season seems a bit much to me. Mostly because there is a limit to how much Christmas music I can love, and starting this early means I will hit my limit well before we December 25th. Especially because Sirius XM and I don’t always agree on what is Good Christmas Music. On the other hand, it seems to fit with the snowy weather. Let it snow, let it snow.

Meanwhile, in Sweden two women have invented what is possibly the coolest item of the year: the invisible bike helmet. Watch the video. Seriously, trust me, you need to watch the whole thing. Really.

Unfortunately, the invisible helmets aren’t yet approved in the US–and the cost is almost $600, so don’t add it to your gift list any time soon. But, one of these days….

Have a crash-free day.

Love, Mom

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