Thursday, December 6, 2012

Storytelling and Peanut Brittle

Today started early for me. I was up before daylight to get ready for three things: first, practice with my friend Jeff Seager as we put the finishing touches on our program of Christmas carols. Second, presenting a pared-down version of the program at my uncle's assisted living center. And third, making peanut brittle with my aunt.

I had stops to make on my way to Jeff's. Gas, molasses and gift bags, to be exact. Gas because my car was sucking air, molasses for the peanut brittle and gift bags for small gifts for the residents of the center since today is, after all, Saint Nicholas Day. I hustled to get out the door here and get all my stops made so I could be at Jeff's early enough for a run-through of our program.

Jeff and I first did this program last year, and it went well. But we wanted to change it up with some new material and as we researched we found pieces dovetailing together. I will be putting up posts in the next two weeks based on my research and the stories we found. For each carol I tell the story of its origin and the folklore surrounding the song. Then one of us sings it, often with audience sing-along. It's great fun, educational and many of the pieces I have found surprisingly moving. It has added a layer of richness to the carols for me and I hope it does the same for our listeners.

After practice we headed to the assisted living center. I've been visiting monthly since July, and I love it. I've become attached to some of the people there, and learn things about them each time I go. For example, today we learned that Ray was an old-time musician who had played with many of the people Jeff and I know. West Virginia really is one big small town.

The program went well and I am very pleased with the flow of the stories and songs. We'll be on the road with it on Saturday doing three performances and that will be all for this year. Next year we'll add more carols and I will make a better effort to publicize it in hopes of getting more calls for performances. I especially liked two new additions: The Huron Carol and Christmas Bells spoke strongly to both of us and I think they also touched our audience.

Afterwards I went to my aunt;s house to learn how to make peanut brittle. She's a master of this art! She made it look so simple and yet I know that one must have a good sense of the right times for each of the crucial steps. Our end product was perfect, and I confess to eating my share of the bits and pieces broken off along the way.

I got home just after dark so I got to enjoy the Christmas lights Larry has put up around our house. Rarely do I get to see our lights since we are not often out after dark, and if we are, we don't leave the lights on. This year I added some of the big old (my grandson called them ugly!) lights remembered from my childhood. I love the way they look! I'll post pictures soon.

It was a day filled with good things, the kind of day that makes me thankful for this eclectic life. I'll be sleeping in tomorrow for sure, but I would not trade today for anything.

Copyright 2012 Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.


Chicken Wrangler said...

Sounds like the Christmas Season is off to a heart-felt start in your neck of the woods. Blessings to you and yours during this time of year!

Sue said...

Wish I could see that program!
And eat some of the peanut brittle...


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