Music is an important part of just about everyone’s Christmas, whether it’s Christmas carols at the church Christmas program, a rerun of Bing Crosby singing in ‘White Christmas’, or the incessant Muzak playing at the malls. As a singer and musician, Christmas music is an especially important part of my Christmas. I have been making music for the holidays since I was a teenager playing the organ in a little Baptist church, and it continues to be an important part of my Christmas celebration every year.
I have made Christmas music just about everywhere. In that small church, at the school where I taught for many years, in the televised choir of a large suburban congregation, in the back of a truck on a Christmas caroling hayride, on a barge floating down the San Antonio River with the Boy Scouts, for church senior groups, in the dining rooms and halls of nursing homes. I’ve made Christmas music in every one of those places. My opportunities to make Christmas music grew exponentially when I learned to play the dulcimer and ukulele and joined The San Antonio Riverpickers, a mountain music band that features dulcimers and old-time Appalachian tunes, and Ukulele Ladies and Gents, which plays all kinds of music including lots of island songs. With these two groups, I have expanded my holiday repertoire beyond the usual Christmas carols and radio and movie songs. I also find myself playing in venues that are an adventure in themselves.
Riverpickers does a lot of street festivals around the holidays, most notably Christmas in Comfort and Dickens on Main in Boerne. We mix in a few Christmas numbers but play mostly mountain tunes, as very few carols sound all that good on a dulcimer. Our audience seems to enjoy the old mountain tunes as much as they do the carols. Playing for a street festival can get interesting in terms of weather, however. After all, we are playing outdoors. We’ve played with the sun shining in our eyes on a stage facing a setting sun, and under chilly cloud cover with rain threatening. We’ve played in the hot-this is Texas and it can still be hot in December. We’ve played in the cold. Really cold. Our record cold-weather performance was an hour-long set in Boerne a few years back. The sun had gone down, it was twenty-nine degrees and the wind was blowing. It was so cold the instruments all had to be retuned, not a problem unless you play a hammered dulcimer with forty-plus strings. (My fingers burned for a solid hour afterwards.) We promised ourselves afterwards we’d never again play below forty degrees, but I honestly don’t think it would stop us. Street festivals are just too much fun to pass up.
The ukulele group is just the opposite. We stay inside where it’s nice and warm and play Hawaiian Christmas music, complete with hula dancers and red and green Aloha shirts. And we sing them in Hawaiian! Of course, we do other Christmas songs also. The ukulele group plays many different places, including churches and libraries and a lot of nursing homes. Although we play for someone or something every month, the holidays tend to be our busy season. So far, we have one performance scheduled right before Thanksgiving and four during December. And that’s so far. There may be more.
Making all the performances can get hectic in an already jam-packed season. Occasionally we must skip a party or another event to play and sing. But making music, especially Christmas music, deeply enriches our holiday. I cannot imagine Christmas without it.
The Smoky Blue Series
The Smoky Blue Series
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Boroughs Publishing
Date of Publication: Nov. 20, 2018
Word Count: Approx. 74,000
Cover Artist: Boroughs Art Department
Tagline: Ike and Cassie love each other. But her daughter stands between them.
He’s found the wife who’d run from him five years ago. But it will take a Christmas miracle to keep her in his life.
A terrified Cassie Jeffries fled Tennessee to protect her newborn daughter from her father’s wrath, abandoning her young husband in the process. Ike has tracked her down-not because he wants her any longer, but at the behest of her dying grandmother. Her love for Ike is still strong. He still loves her, too-but wants no part of her daughter Noelle.
Ike is beyond shocked to learn that the child he thought was his is in fact the child of his wife’s rape. He still loves Cassie, but every time he looks at Noelle he’s reminded of his own failure to protect the woman he loves. And Cassie is adamant. She will have no part of a man who can’t love her daughter. But danger lurks for Cassie’s child. Will Ike be able to protect Noelle from the threat that seeks to destroy everything his wife holds dear?
“Yeah, it’s easy to love those blue-eyed blonds, isn’t it?” Wade gibed. “Those dark ones, man. They’re a lot harder to love.”
Ike felt his temper spike and tamped it down. “It would be hard to love any child who looks like the man who raped my wife,” he replied softly. “It wouldn’t matter if they were white, black, or purple with stripes down their back.” More was on the tip of his tongue but he bit it back. He already sounded enough like an ass.
Wade gave him a go-to-hell look and glanced to one side. Cassie stood there, her face pale and her expression one of horror. Ike felt himself cringe. She’d heard every word.
He started to say something but clamped his mouth shut. He couldn’t defend a statement like that and he knew it. But it had been the unvarnished truth. Noelle was a visible reminder of Cassie’s violation. He didn’t know how to get around that.
Cassie disappeared into the house. It was time to make his case one more time and then get the hell out of here. Ike nodded to Wade, thanked Angie for her hospitality and followed Cassie inside, where he found her in the kitchen by herself. “You leaving now?” she asked as she transferred leftover vegetable sticks into a plastic bag.
“Not until you agree to come see Granny Mae.”
“Then you better wash your clothes and buy another tube of toothpaste. I’m not going to let you pressure me into a decision that’s not in Noelle’s best interests.”
“Damn it, Cassie, what about Granny Mae? Your grandmother’s dying. The only thing she wants before she goes is to see you and Noelle. Are you really going to deny her dying wish?”
“That’s right. Play the guilt card.” Cassie snapped the bag shut and practically threw it in the refrigerator. “I told you last night. Granny Mae is a woman of the holler. She’s not going to want to see Noelle. And even if she did, what part of ‘Hugh Siler will kill her’ did I not communicate fully to you?” She turned to Ike, her eyes blazing. “I’m not the sweet, gullible girl you knew before. The one who could be persuaded or guilted into doing just about anything you wanted me to. So don’t try that crap with me. No way in hell am I giving you any kind of answer today. Don’t ask again.”
“All right. All right. Calm down. No answer today. I get that.” He paused. “But I will say it again. Granny Mae will want to see you both. Your daughter will be in no danger from your father. So please, Cassie. Will you at least think about coming? Will you do that much? You could come for a few days, maybe a week after ‘Wizard of Oz’ finishes its run. Please, Cassie? For Granny Mae? Please?”
“I will think about it but no promises.”
“Thank you. I’ll need your contact information and would like you to have mine.”
They exchanged phones and entered the necessary information. “I guess I’ll be going,” he said as she handed him back his phone.
“One more thing.”
Cassie hesitated. “Never mind.”
“No, say whatever’s on your mind.”
“Noelle. She’s not responsible for the circumstances of her conception. She’s a beautiful, wonderful child. Everyone who knows her loves her.”
“I’m sure she is and I’m sure they do. I’m not proud of my feelings toward her, Cassie. Just so you know.”
About the Author:
Author of thirty-six romance novels, Emily Mims combined her writing career with a career in public education until leaving the classroom to write full time. The mother of two sons and six grandsons, she and her husband Charles live in central Texas but frequently visit grandchildren in Tennessee and Georgia. For relaxation she plays the piano, organ, dulcimer, and ukulele. She says, “I love to write romances because I believe in them. Romance happened to me and it can happen to any woman-if she’ll just let it.”
Website Address: www.emilymims.com
Twitter Address: @EmilyMimsAuthor
Instagram Address: mims_emily