a funny thing happened on the way to my life….

KEEP CALM, Summer’s Coming (15 Sunshine-Inspired Songs) SONG 14

Worst. Summer. Ever.  -author unknown

I wish summer could be all sunshine, popsicles and flip-flops, but we all know the truth.  There are bad days out there.  Sometimes the bad days have our names written all over them.  And yes, sometimes those bad days occur in the middle of summer.  Like when you friends can’t hang out, some kid vomits in the local pool, its scorching hot outside or worse- IT WON”T STOP RAINING!  Then…there’s evil humidity.  Boo.

Leave it to a rebel music icon like Eddie Cochran to write, sing and sum it all up perfectly in the song, “Summertime Blues.”  If they say, “expectation is the root of all heartache (Shakespeare,)” then summer expectations are the worst.  Cochran was a rising star in the late 50s and (depending on sources) co-wrote this Billboard Top 100 song about being broke, working all the time, and life as an overlooked youth.  Ouch!  Still, this upbeat, rockabilly favorite has become a summer anthem for a number of generations.  Originally a B-side single, “Summertime Blues” has been covered countless times and in a variety of musical genres.  Cochran was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999 and his song is ranked number 73 in Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.  His untimely death further cemented his legacy as a rock-n-roll legend.

I’m pretty sure I came across the song via pop culture…most likely though the 80s comedy, Caddyshack and especially the biopic, La Bamba (love, love that movie.)  Now it’s a permanent fixture on my summer music playlist.  Cochran’s guitar and the juxtaposition of such a cheery-sounding song with the teen angst expressed in the lyrics…it’s just so relatable.  And you can’t beat that hand clapping!

UP NEXT:  Song 15…”vacation, all I ever wanted….”

 

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“B” Christmas…or My Very Own Charlie Brown Christmas Special (starring ME!)

Bells will be ringing—the glad, glad news…oh what a Christmas to have the blues….

ASomething has been askew this Christmas.  I was sort of afraid to admit it until now since I proclaim this to be my favorite time of year.  It’s not that I’m without a loved one, it’s not that I have an insurmountable list of problems, worries or fears.  I’ve been trying to tell myself that it’s just the weather, but it sort of snowed the other day and that didn’t squelch the icky feeling.

I think if I’m really honest, I’ve missed Christmas–not in the “longing for” sense of the word, but more the “missed out” connotation of the word.  It’s a horrible feeling since Christmas is still two days away.  The dreadful feeling gave itself a name today–“B” Christmas, as in plan B.  (Remember that feeling in high school when you felt compelled to choose a B school, just in case you didn’t get into your college of choice or the time when you had to settle for your second favorite prom dress because your “friend” already snagged the one you were eyeballing!)  You know it’s not a bad thing…but it doesn’t feel all that great either.

I’ve been trying to hash out what went wrong…you know, analyze the variables and figure out what was different this year than in Christmas’ past.  Nerdy, but that’s how I work.  So, here’s what I’ve come up with:  the season actually began too early with Christmas cookies in October, followed by an unusually busy baking season, Halloween (the unofficial start to Christmas) came and went too quickly (and I didn’t take the kids trick-or-treating nor did we visit any pumpkin patches), outside commitments were plentiful, time-consuming and pressing (basketball practices, extra long soccer season, music concerts and church obligations), Thanksgiving was very structured and passed in a blink (I was super intentional this year about being grateful and in the moment…maybe too focused?), I planned too many homemade/handmade gift projects and of course, the mother of all sins…I stayed up way too late trying to make it all PERFECT!  I am guilty of trying to cram 48 hours into 24 hour days…but who isn’t?

In the end I paid for all of it.  I was tired, irritable, a time tyrant.  I spent all my waking hours in the kitchen and/or at the computer.  I planned each day out for maximum productivity and left out any creative and spontaneous time for fun.  Look, I’m not completely crazy…I had moments of being an on-the-ball mother, wife, church volunteer, and baker.  There were occasional moments to pause, but not enough moments to reflect or savor.  There were too many times I thought I wouldn’t get it all done, panic-stricken times when I was certain it wouldn’t come together, and way too many instances where I wondered why I had taken on so much followed by numerous vows to NEVER do any of this again!  I hate that the most.  The cold, hard fact is that I created this problem for myself.  If I had the Christmas blues I was the one standing there with sapphire color paint under my nails, smeared across my cheek and splotched all over my clothes.

In this “smurf-like” state I didn’t have many options–so I did what people with the blues generally do, I cried.  And wouldn’t you know it, I finally felt better.  It reminded me so much of the Charlie Brown Christmas special.  It’s filled with good intentions, projects and purpose.  Linus even recites scripture to remind us of the true meaning of Christmas.  Charlie Brown wants to be the director, the leader that the Peanuts gang is looking for.  He wants to be the guy who’s going to make this Christmas special.  He doesn’t just take on this project for the benefit of those in the Christmas program, he takes it on to better himself…because he believes this venture will raise his Christmas spirit.  Yet, despite his best efforts we all remember the part where Charlie Brown walks out–dejected, sad, depressed and dispirited after he is ridiculed for choosing a tiny, sad excuse for a tree.

But here’s the best part:  It seems like out of nowhere everyone seems to get it.  The Peanuts gang suddenly see the tree in a new light!  They find that part of themselves that connects with the heart of Christmas.  It happens in a blink and without reason and in that cheesy-manner that only comes from 1960’s Christmas specials, but it happens.  I don’t know if the show’s creators would ever say it, but I think that’s the moment when God stepped in.  And in my very own Charlie Brown Christmas special (starring ME!) after those sad, blues-filled tears fell, God stepped in for me as well.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a 1960’s Christmas special by any stretch of the imagination.  It didn’t happen in an instant, but it did happen.  Slowly the heart of Christmas filled my spirit and the holy day that I love so much, the season I call my favorite…started to come back to me.

As I finish up this blog it’s now the day after Christmas.  My eyes tear up at the thought of this joyous Christmas 2012 that I almost missed out on.  I thank God for the opportunity to worship and celebrate His Son’s birth on Christmas Eve with an unburdened heart.  I rejoice in spending Christmas day with my husband and children and without any agenda…in fact, we all stayed in our pajamas ALL DAY.  I am overjoyed to say that I consider this Christmas a blessing.  And while my house is a disaster, the pine needles are piling up under the tree like sand, and I’m staring down at least several days worth of Christmas decor to put away, I finally feel content.  I’m still listening to Christmas music.  My husband asked me how long I planned to keep playing it and I didn’t have an answer–I still have a lot of Christmas to make up for.

Gifts of time and love are surely the basic ingredients of a truly merry Christmas.” ― Peg Bracken