Today, Cuppa and I were asked to join some neighbours for a Christmas concert at a casino, if you please. Doesn't seem like an unfortunate juxtaposition — casino and Christmas concert? The casino is about a 45 minute drive from here, across the Ottawa River into the province of Quebec. Well, it's 45 minutes if you don't get lost, but we needed an extra 15. It wasn't my fault, you know? I wasn't the lead car and can't be blamed — this time!
As soon as you cross into Quebec, you can't help but be aware of the differences. It's French over there. But as long as you have a good map and can read signs, you're okay. I mean to say, 5 reads the same in both languages, even if they call it an autoroute instead of a highway. And Saint Raymond Boulevard is still pretty recognizable as Boulevard St-Raymond.
Besides, two ladies of our small group of six speak French as their first language. So, when we did get lost and were forced to stop for directions, language was no barrier. It probably wouldn't have been in any case because the majority of Francophones of that region also speak English. There are certainly parts of Quebec where that isn't so, but most in these parts are bilingual. Would that you could say the same for us Anglos.
I seem to be making a short story long again, n'est ce pas (roughly translated: is that not so)? You see, I wasn't very enthused about going to a Christmas concert at a casino. But you know, it tuned out to be a very positive experience. Much of it was exuberant and cabaret style flamboyant, but O Holy Night now ... well, what more is there to say than to mention the title. We all recognize the majesty of the piece, and you can't sing it in anything but reverence wherever you are and whomever you might be.
In deference to the location, songs were sung in each language: several English songs followed by several French ones. Believe it or not, I generally liked the French songs better. Most of the English ones were what one might call, American Commercial. You know the type: White Christmas, Rudolph, Jingle Bells etc. While those might not all be great examples, what I frequently heard were the type of songs that were designed to be sung to audiences. To me, the French songs seemed to be the type that made you want to join in and sing along.
I appreciate listening to good music, but perhaps because I was brought up in hymn-singin' churches, I also like music of the spirit, music that beckons you to open yourself, join in, and belt it out. Maybe that's why I favour East Coast music. To me, much of it is infused with that same kind of spirit.
The long and the short of it is that I had a good time. I was dubious and hesitant, but I went, me and five women (the other guy chickened out), and I am glad of it.
I wonder how often we short-shrift ourselves by prejudging. I was tending to prejudge the occasion by the venue.
I wonder how often I have denied myself pleasure by not taking just a little bit of a risk. I put myself out there today when I was more than somewhat inclined to demur, but I am far from sorry that I decided to be neighbourly and to put myslef out there.