Dear Friends in Christ,

Growing up, watching the Sound of Music was an annual event. My mother would gather me, my brother, and later younger siblings around the television with snacks and pillows on the floor. Over the years, like many, we memorized the words to all the songs. A few years ago, I noticed “My Favorite Things” included among the Christmas mix on the radio and in stores. It seemed odd not a word about Christmas itself, I thought. “Brown paper packages tied up in string” could be any occasion. “Sleigh bells,” Santa, Clause perhaps, “snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes,” a sign of winter in certain places.

I recently discovered “My Favorite Things” was first sung on a Christmas show by Julie Andrews in 1961, four years before the television musical.

To me, it still seems a bit out of place to be Christmas given the complexity of the season: joy, sorrow, hustle, bustle, stress, increased activity, the excitement of anticipation, and more…but maybe not. In some ways, the weight of the world seems to come down in December with several months found in the rearview window. I love decorative wall calendars, and this time of year, usually one has trouble staying put with all the weight of each month nestled at the top instead of the bottom. For some, 2023 will be the best year of their life, while for others, it will be the worst. Perhaps it will be somewhere in between for most.

The more I ponder the lyrical simplicity of “My Favorite Things” and the whimsical tune, my mind has begun to change. We all have our ups and downs. Our favorites have a way of lifting our spirits.

“When the dog bites…when the bee stings…when I’m feeling sad.

I simply remember my favorite things and then I don’t feel so bad.”

Tomorrow is Gaudete or Rose Sunday! (Wear pink!) The pink Advent candle joins two blue candles, and their collective light points toward the manger. Three-quarters of the way through the Advent season, we wait patiently for the annual celebration of Jesus’ birth. Waiting is active, not passive. Patiently recall your favorite things and welcome them as God’s gifts to brighten your spirit as though for the first time.

Here are three videos to jumpstart your favorite things. The scene from The Sound of Music. For those seeking a meditative experience John Coltrane’s instrumentalFinally, the Pentatonix’s pop music video.

Have a meaningful Advent and a blessed Christmastide.