Choir Notes

What Matters Most at Christmas?
From Music and the Spoken Word
Delivered By: Lloyd D. Newell • Program 4342

In 1783, after eight years of war, General George Washington wanted to be home for Christmas. He had been with his small band of soldiers, experiencing the hardships and horrors of the Revolutionary War, since his commission in 1775 as commander in chief. In 1776 he spent Christmas crossing the Delaware amid ice floes and bitter winds. In 1777 he spent Christmas searching surrounding farms and towns for something—anything—to bolster his hungry, freezing, and in many cases shoeless soldiers at Valley Forge. And so it had gone year after year.
With victory secured in 1783, General Washington headed for Mount Vernon, stopping along the way to greet crowds and conduct a few final acts of official business. "Among [these],” he wrote in a letter to a dear friend and fellow soldier, "none afford me more pleasure than to acknowledge the assistance I have received from those worthy men whom I have had the honor to command.”1 His last stop was in Annapolis, where before Congress he officially resigned his commission.
He then pointed his horse home, across the Potomac, through woods, up hills, and across the fields, orchards, and meadows until he could see in the distance the windows of Mount Vernon, candlelit in welcome. Two terms as the first President of the United States were in his future. But that could wait. Tonight was Christmas Eve, and his family was waiting for him.
Unfortunately, not everyone can be home for Christmas. But even if our loved ones can be with us only in spirit, Christmas is a time to cherish the warmth and affection of family and friends. It’s a time to share with those we love our most precious gift—our time. Whether it’s the joyful laugh of a favorite uncle, the contented smiles of grandparents, the excitement of children, the embrace of one who is home at last, or the traditional reading of the story of the babe in the manger, Christmas is best celebrated with people we love.
1 In Stanley Weintraub, General Washington’s Christmas Farewell: A Mount Vernon Homecoming, 1783 (2004), 129.

No comments:

Christmas Countdown