The Ticket: My Forgotten Carol (OPINION)

Photo by Michael W.

Mori Kessler is a writer for St. George News and claims his opinions as his own. The opinions stated in this article are solely his and not those of St. George News.

Last Thursday I had the opportunity to see a program I have not seen in years – Michael McLean’s The Forgotten Carols. It was the 20-year-anniversary tour and it was an incredible show.

I have vague memories of when I originally saw the show with my family. I think I was still in high school at the time. It was the first time I ever realized there was a story behind the songs. Before then, I simply knew the music.

My parents bought a CD of The Forgotten Carols back in the early ‘90s, and I loved it. I loved hearing the accounts of figures from ages past given life in song. From the story of an innkeeper who turned Mary and Joseph away, to the account of a shepherd who slept through the angelic chorus that announced the Christ child’s birth. I enjoyed every song because of the story it told and the message it shared.

I think there was even a time that I hoarded the CD for so long that my parents thought it had been lost.

For anyone who has ever listened to The Forgotten Carols, I may as well be preaching to the choir. You know songs and the characters attached to them.

However, for those of you not-so-familiar with the story of The Forgotten Carols let me provide a quick rundown of the plot.

John Christian is a man who has been around for a very, very long time. He travels from place to place, taking with him a briefcase full of Christmas ornaments. Each ornament represents a specific person, a person forgotten to the world. The story of each individual is then told in the form of his or her own personal carol.

Enter Constance, a rigid, by-the-book nurse who sees Christmas as a distraction and a waste of time. Due to personal trauma experienced during the Christmas season years ago, she has closed her heart to the spirit the holidays.  One day she and John meet, and it is an encounter that neither of them will ever forget.

John teaches Constance The Forgotten Carols, and throughout the course of the story, he helps the humorless nurse to open up to rediscover the joys of the Christmas season.  He also helps Constance discover her own carol, a piece entitled “I Cry the Day I Take the Tree Down.”

In much the same vein as Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” McLean’s Forgotten Carols tells a story of redemption. While Constance’s change of heart is not as dramatic as Ebenezer Scrooge’s, it is no less miraculous and touching.

By the end of the show McLean thanked the audience for making 20 years of The Forgotten Carols possible. He also said he hoped he had helped them discover their own carols like John had done for Constance.

I think a few people did leave with carols of their own, be they newly manifested or awakened after a long period of hibernation. In a way, I was one of those people.

I came away with a carol that I call “The Ticket.” Though there are no words or music to this imagined carol, the message shares much in common with the song of the Innkeeper. His carol, “Let Him In,” tells of his regret over not having invited Joseph and Mary into his inn on that first Christmas night. For me this carol described missed opportunities and asks the question of “What might have been?”

“What might have been?” “If only?” To me, these are words that accompany opportunities not taken and dreams never realized.

The story behind my carol is simple and rather mundane when compared to the eloquent stories told by Dickens and McLean.

I had two tickets for The Forgotten Carols. Obviously I would be going, but who would accompany me? I had nine days to the show – all the time in the world to ask someone, or so I thought. Due to unforeseen circumstances I ended up focusing much of my time and energy at work. I had stories to write and self-imposed deadlines to meet.

Write. Update. Eat. Sleep. Repeat the next day. Anything not connected to work became an inconvenience.

So, as to be expected, the days flew by and I found myself without company for the show. Oh, sure, I tried last minute calls to family and friends, but it was to no avail. I ended up going to the show alone.

The whole night I had an empty chair beside me and a wasted ticket in my pocket. Why? It’s simple really. Like Scrooge, I had become so focused in my work that I let something relatively simple pass me by. The opportunity to act has passed, and there was nothing I could do about it.

So, before it’s too late and you join old Scrooge and I in the loathsome land of “What Might Have Been,” take the opportunity to share your own ticket with someone. That ticket can be anything really, though I find that sharing a ticket of your time and talents with others can be especially rewarding.

Material things come and go and time can be just as fickle when you waste it – so why not make that time worth something and share it with someone else this holiday season?

Go ahead and find out where that ticket can take you.

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Copyright 2011 St. George News. This material may not be published or rewritten without written consent.

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