One of my favourite moments in 2016 was seeing my 15-year-old daughter singing with her vocal class at the European Union Christmas Concert, just 10 days ago, in front of an audience of 1200 people.
|The crumpled program (which they ran out of) and my two red leathers bracelets with the bracelet I call "A Victorian Christmas."|
|The Nepean High School Choir|
Taylor is on bottom right with the long braid.
|I hadn't anticipated seeing the beautiful sight of the steeples glowing in the dark winter sky as we approached the Basilica in the evening.|
(not my photo)
We live in Ottawa, the capital city of Canada, so of course there are many embassies here. Every year the Embassy of the European Union hosts a Christmas Concert in the beautiful Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica. Apparently the concert is a very popular Christmas tradition for many people in the city - and based on the line outside the church, I'd say that's true!
|My attempt to capture the interior and the standing-room-only audience.|
|A photo from last year's concert, showing a packed house.|
(not my photo)
My daughter's vocal class and the school's Chamber Choir, as well as two other children's choirs, sang songs from all 28 member countries in the European Union, in their original language. How moving it must have been for people to hear traditional songs from their childhood, sung by children, in such a magnificent church.
|The extraordinary interior of the Basilica.|
(not my photos)
I recently had a woman send me a long note about reading the stories on my blog. At the end she said, "Keep your chin up and keep persevering. You are stronger than you think and mean a lot to many people in the world and are making positive change in the lives of many." It means so much to me that by sharing my stories I might actually make a difference in the life of someone else - to think that I might somehow help people, somewhere in the world.
As I sat listening to all of those beautiful Christmas songs, many that I could not understand, I kept thinking of all of those people from around the world - my readers and followers, as well as the friends I've made through Pandora. And I had this wonderful warm sparkly feeling come over me. Listen to this three-minute video of "Still, still, still," a traditional Austrian lullaby and see if it touches you, as it did me. (Yes, they could have done without the squeaky clarinet solo.)
|(not my photo)|
As the three children's choirs entered, coming down this long centre aisle of the church, and singing "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing," with the participation of the audience, I thought of the countless friends I now have in the UK: Mandy and Laura in England and Catrin and Mandy in Wales, to name just a few of the first UK ladies I met when I started to collect Pandora. In this three-minute video you can see Taylor as the second person to enter; and I've tried to videotape some of the interior.
The Spanish song "A La Nanita Nana" made me think of Thais and Punita and how much I've enjoyed seeing photos of their travels. When one of the choirs sang "O Tannenbaum" I thought of Riki in Germany. To represent the Czech Republic, there was "Hayek, nynej, Jesisku" (A Rocking Carol) which seemed appropriate for Veronika of Mii bracelets who has two young boys. Listening to "Nu is die roe van jesse" (A New Branch on the Christmas Tree) reminded me that my friend Ellen in Belgium showed me photos of her upside down Christmas tree. When I saw that the song "Jul, jul, stralande jul" (Christmas, Christmas, Glorious Christmas) was from Sweden it made me realize how much I missed seeing photos of Linda's kids and chatting with her about crafts and cats. Most of these ladies I've known for five years now.
I seem to have a number of friends in Portugal: Marta, Andreia, Celina, Ana, and Cristina. And I thought of them fondly when one of the choirs sang "Natal de Elvas" (Noel de Elvas). Those ladies probably have no idea how much it meant to me that they offered to help me purchase charms that were long-retired in Canada; it gave me something to look forward to and gave me hope when I needed it. As the Nepean High School choir sang the "Wexford Carol," a traditional Irish Christmas carol, I recalled meeting Geraldine on the Pandora pages. In this three minute video you can see why Taylor asked me to videotape this lovely song; it was one of her favourite pieces in their performance. When another choir sang "Quelle est cette odeur agreeable" I thought of my friend Anabela in France, one of the European Pandora fans that I got to know quite well in a photography group. I have to admit, that song had us giggling because my husband translated it directly to mean, "What is that agreeable odour?" and in English we don't usually use the word "odour" to mean anything pleasant or agreeable.
|A photo I took for our photography group. The steeples of the Notre Dame Basilica are covered with tin, typical in French-Canadian churches.|
|We were sitting in the very last row in the pews on the sides of the church so we couldn't see the choir at all.|
(not my photo)
As we sat in that enormous church, I closed my eyes, and just listened to the voices rising up and reaching out to all those people. And I imagined my love and Christmas cheer traveling across the globe. I leaned over and whispered to my husband that I had decided that I need a charm to represent those glittering hearts of my friends and readers around the world. The pink "glittering heart" charm seemed to be a good way to remember this special occasion. I hope we make this an annual tradition, even if Taylor's choir is not performing.
P.S. The vocal teacher recently asked Taylor to join the Chamber Choir, without having to audition, because they needed more "strong altos." Just goes to show how wrong I was when I thought my daughter was not a good singer. (see the link to "Sing. Sing out loud..." below)
|The pink enamel "glittering heart" charm (bottom right) on my latest work-in-progress Pandora Rose bracelet/bangle.|
Today's blog post is an expanded version of a piece I wrote for a competition on Instagram, before I even purchased the pink glittering heart charm. I submitted the photo below from my post "Sing. Sing out loud..." (see link in Related Posts below). Please take a moment to pop over to the Facebook page to see the album of contest submissions. There are pictures and stories of special moments like vacations, engagements, birthdays and more. Have a look and vote for your favourite. The photo with the most "Likes" will win a PANDORA 2016 Club Charm. Voting ends December 31. It's not a popularity contest and I'm not asking you to vote for MY photo (I've won my share of Pandora prizes in the last few years) but I hope to support Hazel in her new endeavour.
Here is The Art of Pandora's description of the contest:
"This year has flown by and it is hard to believe we are in December already. Hopefully as you ponder over the past year you are able [to] remember some beautiful moments that you captured with PANDORA. For this month's competition we would like you to choose your favourite PANDORA moment and share it with us."
The contest is put on by a wonderful new blog called The Art of Pandora. I'm not even sure if "blog" is the right thing to call it because it's so much more than just a blog: you will find tabs for a Magazine (one article has interviews with many of the winners of the Paris Forever contest, including yours truly), Reviews of Pandora charms, and a Pinboard with the latest news on releases, sales, promos and more. There is also a gallery of photos called Inspiration, still a work-in-progress. And there is a Catalog, also a work-in-progress; the intention is to be able to find stock photos of all current and retired charms as well as country exclusives. I know I'll be using it frequently; it's much easier to search and find photos than the Pandora iPhone app. While you are on Facebook make sure to "Like" The Art of Pandora page and check out a special Christmas competition (ending December 31) where you nominate someone else to win a charm.
Forever Paris Contest: the meaning of Pandora's box - a story about the ancient Greek myth and how Pandora jewellery - and my international friends - have given me the gift of hope.
Forever Paris Contest: Pandora fans are not Grinches - a story about all the fans of Pandora promotional items and my definition of a "true Pandora fan" with a little poem inspired by Dr. Seuss.
Sing. Sing out loud... - a story about how Taylor came to love singing (no thanks to me!) and an important lesson she taught me about learning to be myself.
With a little help from my-friends - a heart-warming war-time story about the Princess and the... not the pea... the tulip, and its symbolism - and how I tried to be a good friend to my international friends.
The countdown begins... on first day of Christmas - a story about how my Pandora friends helped me through the first winter of my recovery from my eating disorder and depression.