I first heard them around the middle of October.
My church has a tuba group that uses one of our classrooms as a practice space. Once a week or so, there are a few extra cars in the parking lot, and I have a good hunch to whom they belong. Even as I am still walking up the sidewalk, my suspicion is confirmed by the faint sound of low brass emanating from their designated room. I can't make out what they're playing from there, but once I step inside their chosen piece will become clearer.
Most mornings I observe a routine of walking from my office to the kitchen where I find a coffeemaker ready to dispense caffeinated brown liquid into my waiting mug. My purposeful stroll always takes me past the room where the tubas practice, and I am serenaded to and from my intended destination.
In mid-October, their chosen selection was "It Came Upon the Midnight Clear."
Of course it was.
Our area boasts a large and well-attended Tuba Christmas event, but even besides that there surely would be other opportunities in the coming months to hear and play holiday favorites in the weeks leading up to Christmas. This was the time to practice and make ready for those future performances, because they were fast approaching.
In years past, I would have cringed at hearing such a tune so early. I like focusing on one special day at a time, and at that point my front porch was covered in pumpkins, skeletons, and light-up ghosts. I resist the "Christmas creep" as much as I can, in part because I want each holiday to truly be its own thing and in part because I have as much baggage with this late-December day as anyone else and don't feel like dealing with all that yet.
But on this fall day, I smiled. I opened my heart and let the carol inside, if for just a moment. Hearing it brought peace rather than agitation, for reasons I still can't name. On that morning at least, knowing that this celebration was coming caused comfort, and I would accept it wholly and without grudge.
I'll take peace where I can find it these days, even in Christmas music before Halloween.
Image via FreeFoto.