Usually I keep my newsletters in a certain tone as I want my readers to get a specific product from me, one that they can count on. In that way I build my list and give people what they want; indeed, what they expect.

Yesterday, I varied my plan.

It was my last newsletter before this huge season of celebration. I thought my readers might like to hear from my heart rather than from my business, albeit a business I love.

I hardly mentioned my writing. Instead I talked about this past year’s highs and lows. Especially about a personal goal reached, one that no one really knew about. No, it’s not that my 5th book was published!

And people reacted!

People who had never responded to my newsletter wrote sweet notes full of warmth. I thought, just this one time, I would share parts of that newsletter with the wider world of my writing blog audience. (If you want to receive my newsletter twice a month, sign up in the left column box.)

Winter Wonderland and Singing Siblings

It’s the time of all sorts of celebrations and I wish each and every one of you great joy as you celebrate in your own special way. My husband and I decorated early this year to help keep our spirits from sinking into COVID crappy thoughts and it has worked very well. We’ve been turning the lights on all day every day to create our own bit of joy. A couple of weeks ago we had a Sunday where lovely snow fell all day and at night we took a walk in our neighbourhood. The houses above and below were just gorgeous!

I’ve tried to sing and play the piano much more these days and I find those pleasures remind me of happier times when we got together with my huge family–I grew up with 9 brothers and 3 sisters–and ours was a home filled with music. Singsongs were wonderful, especially as my brothers grew older and took all those male parts. One year in our singalong, my sister playing piano, we sang Hallelujah Chorus. Most of us knew it by heart. I remember the deep bass of my brother, Roger, the stirring soprano of my sister, Linda, (I joined her) and my sister Donna’s rich alto, along with the sweetest tenor voice I ever heard coming from my brother, Keith. By that time my mother had passed but I know she would have revelled in that performance.

My Highlight of 2020

This has been such a year for ups and downs. It’s the toughest one I can ever remember for so many reasons but it has also had many highs for us. We are so fortunate to be at a time in our lives when we are not worrying about losing our own livelihood, but watching friends and family, indeed, the world struggle to live in these new times has been tough. I found I had to get a short bit of news in the morning, maybe a story or two at noon and virtually go incommunicado for the rest of the day. It was and is the only way I could and can survive.

And I had to find new ways to still my creative mind. I wrote a new book, I tried to sort out my email woes (ongoing, still), I pulled out my songbooks and starting playing and singing again, I planned back porch safely distanced visits, I thought about flying to visit my daughter and her family at Christmas (it never happened), I wrote a short essay for inclusion in a London author’s anthology (it’s launching soon), I walked with my husband and walked and walked, we laughed and we cried as friends’ life events came along, and I joined my sister, Donna Garner’s alley jam (YouTube video) one Friday night in August. No, I’m not in the video as they did that after I had been.

Many people know that I have been a lifelong singer, member of many choirs, sometime choir director, music director and lover of singing forever. What people don’t know is that I have written many songs over the years, about 20 or so, and they have helped me sing out my life’s paths, good and bad. Music has been my shelter in almost every storm.

So this summer my husband and I already had a short errand in Guelph and decided we could safely go on to one of Donna’s alley jams. She did allow us to use her Covid-sanitized bathroom–thank goodness–and we bought takeout supper on the way to her house in Toronto. It was a lovely evening and as the sun sank the musicians began to gather. Ron and I took a seat at the back to watch and listen. We sat in our lawn chairs for the show, me clutching my music and getting a sense of the group around us.

Donna’s contacts are many and multi-faceted. (Donna’s website) Guitars, keyboards, violins, cellos, a bass viol, and a few other instruments took part. To hear them was thrilling. After about an hour Donna introduced me and I stepped up to the front. Unlike all of those other people, I don’t play any instruments except some pretty crappy piano. Donna was on keyboard. I had copies enough of the music for everyone. We started.

“I Can Hear My Mom Singin'” is my own composition and the song I chose to sing and I felt Mom was there watching two of her daughters perform the way she taught us to all our lives. I don’t sing as well as I used to but it didn’t matter. I did my best. The musicians seemed to love my song and a lovely round of applause accompanied me back to my seat.

I had always yearned to sing on a professional stage, wondered what it would be like, but never got beyond my amateur status. This night, at 74 years of age, I sang with pros. What was it like? It was fabulous!

So that picture above with the sunny cloud shows you what I felt like. It was the highlight of the year for me.

Donna’s Alley Jam behind her garage in Toronto. She is on accordion, one of about 9 instruments she plays.

Find Elaine’s books on Amazon and in other fine stores in print, ebook and audiobook formats.

The Loyalist’s Wife

The Loyalist’s Luck

The Loyalist Legacy

The Loyalist’s Daughter

The Man Behind the Marathons: How Ron Calhoun Helped Terry Fox and Other Heroes Make Millions for Charity

 

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