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Messiah just one more ingredient in my 'best Christmas ever'


Jeff Clark



I live in a world of superlatives, just ask my wife. But when every day is "the best day ever," I find I'm rarely disappointed. You would think that with high expectations, I would be let down more often than not. But I tend to keep my expectations realistic; it's what happens along the way that I find most exciting.  


I attended "the greatest thing ever" once again last night in the Friendly City. And the "greatest thing ever" was this year's production of Handel's "Messiah" at Annunciation Catholic Church. 


I realize the production is nothing new for Columbus residents, as last night's show was the 11th rendition, but it was new to my family and it was fantastic.  


As a journalist, everything is approached with a bit of skepticism and cynicism because it has to be that way. The truth is, what's important in day-to-day newspaper writing doesn't allow much room for whimsy and wonder.  


Unfortunately, I've taken the same attitude toward the Christmas holidays over the years. I've used the holidays as a time to be bitter and cynical, a time when I spent too much time on the people and things that are gone from my life.  


But that was then -- I've made a conscious effort to really embrace the spirit of Christmas in recent years. I love this time of year, and I wholeheartedly embrace it. 


There's no such thing as a tacky Christmas sweater for me -- it's all festive holiday wear. 


The "Messiah" is one of only a handful of Christmas programs I've attended.  


Wait, let me clarify this -- the "Messiah" is one of the only professional Christmas shows I've seen. The other was the Oak Ridge Boys' Christmas Spectacular in Corinth a few years ago. That was the night when my dreams really did come true, because I've always dreamed I would get to hang out with the Oak Ridge Boys and see them perform "Elvira" from the front row. The second set of Christmas songs was just lagniappe. It was the best Christmas ever, until I saw the "Messiah" Tuesday night. 


The "Messiah" was a sophisticated, classy performance. From the orchestra to the soloists, it was (superlative alert) "amazing."  


Although I may be an obsessed Crimson Tide football fan who enjoys pork skins, nachos and Conway Twitty, I can also be sophisticated when it counts. I may wear trucker caps, or "hats" as I lovingly call them, but I'm not going to wear one to church. 


As much as I love Waylon Jennings and Cheetos, I also fancy Grey Poupon, Nutella and the Bravo channel. I have exchanged written letters with the late author Shelby Foote. I have had a lengthy discussion with poet Allen Ginsberg. I once hung out with Bridget and Steve Pieschel at a Chieftains/Sarah McLachlan concert. I've done classy things. Now, I can add the "Messiah" to the top of my classy list. 


The show was about more than just class -- it was also about community. I was amazed by the quality of the community choir. The fact that members of churches from across the area could come together for one night without much rehearsal is nothing short of astonishing.  


It's too bad this type of peace and goodwill doesn't transcend to every factor of the larger community. From county and city officials to our next-door neighbors, we could all learn something about cooperation from the "Messiah."  


And speaking of the choir, I also saw Johnny Coleman singing on the back row. Man, I love Johnny Coleman. When I was a kid, Johnny and Bobby Winders and some other folks from Monroe County recorded a version of Elvin Bishop's "I Fooled Around and Fell In Love." He was, and still is, a rock star in my mind. 


I've really enjoyed all the Christmas activities in Columbus this year. I had a great time riding with my wife in the parade, and Wassail Fest was a lot of fun. My first Christmas in Columbus, my first Christmas with my wife, has been very memorable and wonderful. I thank each and every one of you who have helped make this season so bright, from the parade organizers to everyone involved in the "Messiah."  


Christmas in Columbus is turning out to be, yep, the best Christmas ever.  


Life, with its ups and downs and twists and turns, is hard, y'all. Enjoying the holidays with your family and friends is probably the easiest thing we will do all year.



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