Ah, Christmas on the Oregon coast

Rain and wind have returned, with a forecast of storm after storm. The Coast Guard warns of giant waves and wild surf. Only fools will walk on the beach now. Ah, at last the weather is normal. I do love sunshine, but not when it comes with freezing temperatures. Ice frightens me, forces me to keep the dog inside at night, and makes me wear so many layers of clothing it’s hard to move. This is better. Beach weather.

We have a new church choir member, a nun who started singing with us on Christmas weekend. It was raining a bit on Christmas morning. I mentioned that the weather was finally more typical for December. She looked at me with alarm. It is? Oh Sister, hold onto your rain hat.
Our choir made it through three Masses with tons of music, including songs and solos before the official service. The church glittered with white candles and white lights on the tree and white poinsettias all over the altar. The congregation was a riot of red and green with the occasional jingle bell. How glorious it felt to stand on the altar as the cantor and sing, “Born today . . .” after weeks of Advent when we sang and talked about waiting for Jesus to come.
The big Mass was at 5:30 on Christmas Eve. We struggled to fit in all the singers and guitar players in the choir loft, and we had lots of solos. As is our tradition, the choir went to Lee’s Wok in Newport for dinner. While we waited for our massive plates of fried food, we played our gift-trading game in which people pick numbers, choose a gift, then hope no one will steal it from them. With our shouting and laughter, I’m afraid we’re quite annoying to other people trying to have a peaceful dinner.
Stuffed with food all the way up to our vocal chords, a few of us returned to church for the late-night Mass, falling into bed afterward with the sound of “Gloria in excelsis deo” echoing in our heads. On Christmas morning, we rose for one more Mass before we were finally free to open presents and join our friends and families for Christmas.
I spent the afternoon with the Cramer family, friends from church who always make me feel like one of the family rather than the lonely widow who needs a place to go for Christmas. It was a beautiful time.
Do I miss Fred? So much. A few times I thought I heard his deep voice singing beside me on the piano bench. I also miss my mother and all the others who have passed away. I miss being with my family in California, but I had work to do here.
For church musicians, Christmas is not a vacation, but it is a celebration. I hope your holidays have been full of music, love, gifts and fabulous food. If they weren’t as happy as you wished, I hope you can still find one good thing to hang onto as we move into the new year. May 2012 be full of blessings for us all.
P.S. My brother and sister-in-law sent me long underwear and a thick yellow afghan for Christmas. They seem to think I’m cold up here. Not anymore. It’s raining.

Author: Sue Fagalde Lick

writer/musician California native, Oregon resident Author of Freelancing for Newspapers, Shoes Full of Sand, Azorean Dreams, Stories Grandma Never Told, Childless by Marriage, and Up Beaver Creek. Most recently, I have published two poetry chapbooks, Gravel Road Ahead and The Widow at the Piano: Confessions of a Distracted Catholic. I have published hundreds of articles, plus essays, fiction and poetry. I'm also pretty good at singing and playing guitar and piano.

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