Thursday, December 13, 2018

Ye Olde Annual Christmas EpistleFrom Me

 I’d have to say that this year has been far from uneventful – maybe one event too many when it comes to health and such but two stints in my heart later and I’m still functioning. doing my musical routines, etc. Now I’m not back to 100% but thanks to 36 weeks of rehab, I’m on the mend.
    Still writing songs, playing piano, guitar, banjo (and a little bit of tenor sax – very little), working with some great Dallas musicians and volunteering three times a week at Presby Hospital (now known as Texas Health Resources Hospital). I liked Presby better, it was shorter to say. Wonder-filled times in that place -- happy to be able to play piano for the folks there.
 As for as Big News, let’s see … apart from health issues, I mean. Did a lot of traveling in the Fall – Grand Rapids to see Art Prize then in November a trip to Indianapolis to see my long time pal, Ashli Cartwright-Peak; later than month I was in Denver to have my annual Thanksgiving visit with Janice’ Moore and this month I’m off to New England to celebrate Christmas with The Duckett clan. And of course there’s my work with Kiddz on Stage I did in Winnsboro back in July and my work with Spotlight Players (formerly Jesters) here in Dallas. So I have plenty to keep me out of trouble – not that it does – but I have a truly rich, full life with tons of blessings to be thankful for – including you my dear friends. Now let’s move onward to this year’s musing.

Merry Christmas, World
  All right everybody who wants to emphasize death and destruction, heartache and heartbreak plus misery and general unhappiness at Christmas time raise your hand. … Me neither. Oh there might be some out there but not too many of you, those who read my meanderings year after year, would qualify for that group. Fact is most of us don’t want to “go there”--  as  people are inclined to say these days. Of course we don’t have to “go there”, mainly because that sort of news is here, it’s all around us, everyday.  We have had our fair share of Bad News for the year. Enough already.
   Well I’ve got Good News for you – it’s called Christmas. And it’s all about Good News. Now I will hasten to add that I intentionally look forward to being reminded of the promise and possibility of the season. Hence the following bit of rhythm and rhyme.

Where did Hollywood get the idea
That Christmas time is a perfect time
For celebrating goodness?
What made them decide that happy endings
Would be prime ingredients for a hit flick?
That people getting together and loving each other
Like an idealized family
Would sell tickets and melt hearts and
Make us warm and fuzzy down deep
They’ve learned to package magic and miracles
Whether in Bedford Falls or on 34th Street
While some can’t abide such so called treacle
Indeed there’s a whole lot of people
Like me, who think peddling hope
And the idea that dreams can come true
Is one of the nicer notions to present to the world
But where on earth did they get that idea?
Where on earth?  How about Bethlehem?
Isn’t there something touching, you might even say “feel good” about that story
When you truly stop and ignore all the nay-sayers
All the folks who say,”Man, that sort of make believe is way out of style”
When you get past all that, doesn’t the story still bring an almost childlike smile to our face …

A baby, a manger, Angels singing Gloria
Shepherds in the fields, Wise men with treasures
Even Hollywood can’t top that for an epic event
And don’t forget the bright shining star overhead
The one that led the seekers to find the Christ child
That’s the stuff of miracles and if I may permitted so say so
Magical moments to hold close on a cold winter night
When darkness is far too real
And there seems to be very little light
But at least enough to light our way
To take a step and then another
Believing as best we can
Trying to understand who we are
Remembering once more
That once upon time
There was a birth and it was no fairy tale
It was a night of magic and miracles
So big, so fantastic even Cecil B.
Couldn’t have captured it
Yet so unassuming, so fraught with something as simple and tender
As a young couple’s love for their newborn
And the most miraculous of all
Here was God’s way of saying to all of us --

“I Give you the most precious gift
Anyone has ever given
Here is my beloved son, Jesus …
Merry Christmas, World”

Merry Christmas and all the best to you
George Gagliardi, December, 2018

Friday, March 30, 2018

Easter 2018

Easter 2018

  I’m sure I’m not the only who noticed that Easter and April Fool’s day fall on the same day this year. So in the spirit of the two days coming together, as it were, I’ve concocted something a bit different for this year’s contribution. It’s part whimsy, part nonsense and maybe a part … worth pondering. I’ve entitled this bit of  “word – processing” “Interview with The Easter Bunny” or “Session at Pete’s Hutch”. (With a nod to Henry Mancini)
               Scene – A well appointed study, with all the accoutrements that befits a successful individual -- Nothing shabby about these surroundings, to be sure. My interview subject is seated behind the large, impressive solid mahogany desk. Well dressed in his casual best, smoking a pipe, very much at home in this setting – almost reminding one of a kind of  … (wait for it) “Playboy” bunny, if you will. (Or maybe not.)
         Mr.Gee – So, Mister Cottontail or would you rather I address you as the Easter Bunny.
         Peter – You can just call me Pete – no need for formalities when I’m not out on a gig.
        Mr.Gee – Okay, Pete. Tell me, what’s it like to be the Easter Bunny. To have kids all excited about seeing you come around every year – maybe even leave an Easter egg or two.
         Peter – I’ll tell you, the kids are the best part of the job. (Pause) Well that and all the benefits I get from folks like Hallmark, Whitman candies, Hershey – you know the ones that I endorse year after year. I didn’t buy this hutch with a bushel full of carrots, I’ll tell you that.
         Mr.Gee – Yes, I can see you’ve done quite well for yourself.
         Peter – Yes, but not nearly as well as my cousin, Eric. Man, he struck it rich when they decided to use him as the mascot for a certain magazine. But let’s not talk about that. (Leans down to whisper) After all I’m sure some of your readers might care to “go there”. Know I mean?
           Mr.Gee – Yes, Pete, I do. And I appreciate your sensitivity to such things. Speaking of sensitivity, I need to bring up something that hope is not a sore spot.
          Peter – A sore spot?
          Me --  Well I’m talking about the rivalry between you and you know who?
          Peter – You mean Bugs?
          Me – No, I’m not talking about Bugs Bunny. I was referring to … um, Jesus.
         Peter (Reacts) Jesus Christ? You think we’re rivals, do you? Well, pal let me set you straight on that right now. WE ARE NOT RIVALS.
         Me – Sorry, I didn’t mean to upset you though I did warn you it might be a sore spot.
          Peter – Oh, I’m not sore. I’m just dumbfounded how anyone could consider us, would consider us rivals. I’m at best a fun distraction for kids mostly – playful, entertaining and some might say I’m cute. But Jesus … (long pause) Jesus is much more than that. (Leans back in his chair) Listen most of the guys that know me would say I’m not much of religious type but come on, you’ve got to give credit where credit is due. Jesus did something no else had ever done before, will ever do or can ever do.
         Me – You’re talking about coming back from the dead.
         Peter – Exactly. No one but no one has every done that before – because no one else can.
         Me – Well, Mr. Cotton … I mean, Pete, how is it that you’re as prominent in some people’s mind as Jesus is when it comes to Easter.
         Pete Okay, I’ll try and answer that as briefly as I can since I don’t want to bore you with history – I don’t have time for that anyway but here’s a crash course in the origins  of how I came to be associated with Easter.     
            It started back in ancient times with a pagan holiday and folks paying tribute to the goddess of spring. They felt led to set aside a season to celebrate this time when new growth happened- in other words a time to celebrate fertility. Well we rabbits have been identified with that sort of thing for while now and so it was only natural later on that they chose to use my tribe as a symbol. Later after church decided to use that same pagan day to recognize the resurrection of Jesus my ancestors sort came along as part of the package. And we’ve been a part of that particular season ever since.
          Mr. Gee – Yes, I know that the same sort of scenario has been played out when it comes to Christmas.
           Peter – Same thing. Pagan holiday, that’s a big deal, the church comes along and says let’s choose that day to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Saint Nicholas becomes identified with the season and the birth of Jesus winds up getting lost in all the hoopla. Mr. C and I have spent many evening talking about this. But hey, it’s a money maker (shrugs his shoulders) whatcaha gonna do. Folks seem to have a way of making the significant insignificant and vice versa. Of course I can’t complain, I’ve done alright by it.
          Mr. Gee – Indeed you have. Anything else you’d like to add?
           Peter – Only this – I’m all about pretending. All about imagination and fantasy – about wishful thinking, as it were. Jesus is not about any of that. To get the two of us mixed up is … Hare-brained (winks) if you know what I mean.
          Mr. Gee – I do. Thanks for your time, Pete.
           Peter – You’re welcome.

             Soon it will be Easter Sunday – Resurrection or Foolishness? You get a very clearly defined opportunity to emphasize one or the other this Sunday—which may well be like a kind of living parable, I think. This kind of dividing line puts me in mind of an old quote I remember, which seems appropo’ this year and it goes something like this “I’m a fool for Christ, who’s fool are you?” I’d say that sort of goes along with Dylan’s song “You Gotta Serve Somebody”. Indeed we do. Resurrection – faith or fairytale. It’s always up to us to decide.
Happy Easter
George Gagliardi