This week, on my 7.30am brisk walk, another walking lady not known to me, came alongside.
She said: "I was walking by your place last Sunday night, and I heard a piano and lovely singing from adult voices coming out the windows. And you were singing 'Jesus loves me, this I know'. I was amazed, and touched."
Yes indeed, we had a soiree for friends who love to sing for pleasure, whose bottom line is: "Life is short ... eat dessert first ... and don't forget to kiss joy as she flies by!"
Their choices were not only carols but many lovely old hymns from childhood Sunday school memories, not often heard in these trendy times. Mr (or Mrs) Google tells me that Jesus Loves Me is the most remembered hymn by most adults. No doubt the good citizens of Ruatangata, recently outraged to find their community icon, the Pioneer Memorial Church, was to be sold, have been moulded by the simplicity and memorability of that little hymn. Their church building gives meaning and roots to all who drive by. It symbolises the early farming families - Hodge, Lilley, Yates, Thorburn, Griffen, and many others, along with a sense of belonging to solid roots and values.
On Wednesday, 40 men and women from the general public, not a choir, but again, with music in their hearts, toured each and every ward in the Whangarei Hospital for the annual carol singing. This is a time of simple joy and connecting, and a tradition recalled by us nurses from years back as a highlight. In those times, at night, the entire nursing staff in starched white uniform, caps or veils (the Sisters) and quality red capes, were led by Matron Miss Hawken, all bearing lighted candles. We sang the same timeless carols, to the same sick people, with their same human needs, with the same responses of happiness and joy.
On Thursday evening at Christ Church at the Regent, Trinity Voices, from Auckland's Anglican Cathedral in Parnell, delivered simplicity and beauty of singing at the highest level. Their eight members, elegant in black with red bowties and hair flowers, presented Christmas by Candlelight, different, classical, stunning. These career musicians are directed by Timothy Noon, gifted MC and organist.
Whangarei has been offered a rich and varied diet of all things Christmas, into our frenetic society challenged by the wider world's crises, political dramas, power plays, greed, consumerism, celebrity and alcohol-obsessed culture, and the moral issues of public figures holding high offices. Christmas is the birthday of a baby, born into poverty, simplicity of faith and obedience, that when our lifepenny finally drops to a way of living, actually radiates quiet peace, hope, love and joy.
This comes usually "after I have buzzed around the world for a bit, then I might come buzzing back to you".
If Christmas is too hard, you're doing it wrong. Stick with the basics. Keep it simple, sunshines.