Sitting Thirty-One

All Things Work Together

Two weeks until premiere. Fourteen days. Or as Shakespeare might call it—a fortnight. But Shakespeare wasn’t available. It was just a gaggle of people with a lot of talent, trying to learn a stage-full of material in an itsy-bitsy bit of time.

But the world was busy. The Middle East sprouted a new war in defiance to the Christmas season. Riots had broken out in the South over mistreatment of a prisoner who was “accidentally” shot in a police van on the way to headquarters. The debate over Christmas had turned into a debacle—cynicism and callous disregard for the faith and feelings of others.

Yet in the midst of all the turmoil, a cloud of hope rose on the horizon and began to overtake the darkness with an emerging light. It wasn’t a supernatural thing. People just began to ask the question, “What really makes us happy?”

Are we happy because we eliminate belief in the unseen? Are we happy because we try to be superior to other human beings? Are we happy because we complain about Christmas? Are we happy without Christmas? Is a “Great Jubilation” enough?

The answers came quickly and simply: it’s better to pursue something that has a childlike joy than it is to be childish, discouraged and hateful.

Acts of kindness were sprouting up everywhere. The only disagreements were about who got to treat for the meal. Lifting up the Prince of Peace opened the door to those who yearned for peace.

Excitement over the upcoming performance at Madison Square Garden had stimulated ticket sales so much that the performance was sold out. It probably could have been sold out again—but greed was not the goal. The goal was to express love, to titillate the hope within people, granting them the faith to allow their spirits to breathe.

Then, an even more exciting piece of information—Golda’s parents were coming on Christmas Eve. Not only that, but they had made arrangements to stop traveling and hand the business over to other people, who would do the overseas work for them. They were coming home for good.

Golda couldn’t sleep. She couldn’t believe the good fortune that had come her way. When she dozed off, she was embraced in spirit world—in tenderness, appreciation and even suggestions on better ways to perform the material. (After all, Christmas Carol did know her musical stuff, and Lit was certainly the expert on the best ways to light up a room.)

But in the midst of this bounty of blessing, Golda’s headaches grew worse. Sometimes she cried out in her sleep, awakening Charrleen, who would come to her bed and climb in, cuddling with her until she fell asleep.

But nothing stopped Golda’s determination—her willingness to learn the lines, practice her tones and hit her marks. She was the most professional person Charrleen had ever worked with—and the girl had never been on stage.

Yet when it was time for a break or to share a meal, Golda was so exhausted and so embattled with the pain that she found it difficult to eat enough to stay healthy.

Charrleen didn’t know what to do. She felt guilty about continuing the project, knowing the lovely little person’s plight. But when she suggested that they slow down, or wait until next year, Golda insisted they “march on.”

Charrleen did most of the advertising and television work. Golda used that time to rest and to take long, hot baths that seemed to relieve the tension in her brain. Every night she asked Charrleen to pray for her, and every night Charrleen laid hands on Golda’s head, and prayed that the pain would cease. Then together, in unison, they repeated, “Go away, go away, for today, for today. Pain, please go away.”

With only six days until premiere, Golda awoke with a new song. Charrleen was startled. To add a new song to the show at this point was not only frightening, but perhaps futile.

But Golda sat on the edge of the bed and quietly sang the song to Charrleen.

The best thing I can say is Merry Christmas

The best way I can tell you I love you

It may not seem like much to give you

But it’s what I have and all I can do

The times are changing every minute

And it’s difficult to find our joy within it

But the best thing I can ever say or do

Is Merry Christmas, I love you.

She finished singing with the sweetest voice this side of Pearly Gates, and Charrleen burst into tears. Maybe part of it was the tension of the rehearsals. Maybe it was guilt over failing to take care of Golda’s physical health. But mostly it was because the song was so stubbornly simple—it was destined to strike the heart of every human hearer.

Charrleen cleared her throat. “We can do this. We’ll just let you sing it in the finale, with just the piano. Then when you come to the final verse, we’ll take it up a full step to make it higher and cue the orchestra for the last lines. Then we’ll tag the brass and add the entire cast in harmony.”

Golda didn’t understand half of what Charrleen was saying, but she felt that her friend had said it so eloquently that she cried, too. That day they presented the song to the arrangers, who objected, saying it was impossible to insert a number. But then the piano player sat down with a simple chart, and they listened to Golda share it.

There were no more words of complaint. Just busy pens, working on musical notes.

Every afternoon from now until Christmas we will be posting sittings from the story, “Jubilators,” for your enjoyment. Good reading and Merry Christmas!

Published by Jonathan Cring