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.
— Dave Earling, Mayor of Edmonds