From the Edmonds Mayor: Merry Christmas to all

Merry Christmas….

Yes, I know it should be something like “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings.” For five years I have followed the “traditional” government greetings with my Christmas-time messages, but after a recent conversation with our City Attorney, he assures me that I would not be violating the Establishment clause with this message.

Understand, I do not write this with any intent to offend anyone. This is an opportunity for me to reflect on a concert I recently attended, which moved me. That concert, along with a couple of fond family memories that bring me great joy, hold the framework for this message.

For many, Christmas is the most important time of the year. And it is for me. Personally, the season is an opportunity for me to reflect, rest, refresh and become grounded with my core values and beliefs. Mix in the festivities, wonderful Christmas music and meaningful opportunities to reconnect with family and friends and… well… it doesn’t get any better.

I recently attended the Mosaic Choir and Orchestra Christmas concert at the Edmonds Center for the Arts. The choir and orchestra were as usual, superb. The conductor, Allan Skoog does wonderful work.

The concert included a world premiere, which for me as a former conductor, was especially meaningful. It was a work composed by Jim Hashman, a former Edmonds School District instructor. The music was amazing, the harmonies magical and the text was exquisite. The title of the work, “God So Loved the World…This is Christmas”.

Yes, a spectacular, moving piece of music which brought the house down. But consider this… Jim has ALS. He no longer can compose in any traditional way, such as using his hands at the keyboard or even holding a pencil to paper. Jim composes with his eyes and his mind with a special technology, called “eye gaze”. Although the process is tedious, he wanted to complete the journey. With his challenges, Jim is committed to creating, and he composed this joyous piece of music… and succeeded. When he was wheeled on stage after the performance, tears of joy were everywhere.

For me, as I’m sure it is with you, family is terribly important. As I’ve mentioned before, I am an only child. At Christmas I often think of my parents, both deceased, both from blue collar backgrounds, and, as I’ve also mentioned before, I can honestly say I never heard them argue… ever. For us, our Christmases were a time for family, quiet dinners and the exchanging of simple gifts.

After I began teaching and had a real income, I still had the habit of giving simple gifts. But one year I “splurged” and bought my Mother a gift of great importance to her… a swag lamp! Yes, she loved swag lamps! When she opened the gift, and as my wife will attest, Mother wept. A simple gift of great importance to her that she cherished, and a memory I cherish.

The year before my Dad died of lung cancer we had Christmas at Susan’s and my home with my parents. It turned out to be magical. My Dad, who was a commercial painter,, was limited in what he could do but wanted to be more active and work just a bit at his trade. So Susan and I purchased some simple tools of his trade; a couple of paint brushes, a drop cloth, masking tape, etc. When he opened his gift, we could tell he was truly moved.

The magic came a few minutes later when Susan opened our drapes and it was snowing in Edmonds! It was snowing on Christmas Eve! A gift for us all, a gift we will always cherish. And yes, Dad got a last opportunity to work at his trade by painting the inside of our home.

In closing, I’d like to share a comment Allen Skoog made at the Mosaic concert. Allen spent a couple of minutes reminding us how much richer we would all be during this season if we simply remembered to say thank you more often; a true weakness of mine. So let me take this opportunity to say thank you to my family for their love and patience; thank you to my friends for their friendship and love; thank you to my fabulous staff at the city for their hard work and support; and thank you to all of you for allowing me to serve Edmonds as your Mayor.

Merry Christmas!

— Dave Earling, Mayor of Edmonds

  1. And thank YOU for your service to us and for this touching reflection from the heart! I attended the same benefit concert and both enjoyed it and was also moved by Jim Hashman’s music and life-story. I also can’t remember when I’ve seen an entire stage literally filled with joyful singers! It was a great evening and I’m so glad I went. Merry Christmas to you as well!

  2. Dear Mayor Earling,
    Thank you for your wonderful Christmas message reminding us to keep the Christmas and Hanukkah spirit in our hearts. The holidays can bring sadness for many remembering those who we have lost. As you have shared with us your special memories of your parents, I too feel that way. How blessed we have been in knowing our family and friends through the years, and how they will always have a special place in our memories, in our hearts. I have often called our Christmas tree our memory tree. As I place each ornament on the tree, I remember who gave it to me with love and thankful for the blessing of having known them, for being a part of my life. I do the same thing as I take down each ornament and pack it away until the next year. Also, thank you for sharing your evening at the concert. I am so thankful that Jim Hashman was able to finish his musical composition, his labor of love. I wish I could have heard it. Thank you for your dedication to our wonderful town and home of Edmonds! Merry, Merry Christmas to you, Susan and your dear Family!

  3. Dear Mayor Earling,

    Thank you for attending the concert, and thank you for your kind words about my piece. It was a labor of love for this group. I felt so privileged and honored to have Allan Skoog select the piece, and to have it performed by the wonderful Mosaic Choir and Orchestra. Allan and I go back a few years. A little over 30 years ago I played in his orchestra for Christmas and Easter concerts. What a joy it is to come full circle and have him perform a piece I composed for his group. For those who would like to hear it, the premier performance has been posted on YouTube. Because there is another piece with a similar title, you need to search for the complete title, “God So Loved The World, This Is Christmas.” Merry Christmas, Jim

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