I’m going to draw attention
to a friend’s first Christmas CD.
(And recommend it as a purchase.)
But I’m also going to suggest
that we consider offering some kind of homemade music
at our holiday gatherings.
Times such as these
are times
for homemade music.
As I’ve said before,
it’s a warm and wonderful thing
“to entertain each other,
celebrate each other,
be vulnerable with each other,
build community with each other.”
Making music together does all this,
as well as connect us to
and heal
our souls.

We always try to have some kind of special activities
for family gatherings,
as do many friends.
I hear of wonderful homemade games
and craft projects.
Here on the farm
there are often outdoor experiences,
like gift-wrap baseball on the frozen pond
(The used gift wrap makes the baseball)
or brush bonfires in the snow.

Making music is riskier
for most of us;
thus the vulnerability we feel with each other:
Playing the piano poorly
as, nevertheless, everyone gathers round to sing.
A nephew sitting down with guitar
to play for the family
when he normally plays alone.
Pulling the bongos and other childhood drums
out of the closet
and tentatively drumming until—
suddenly—
there’s a group rhythm going.
Playing the Native American flute
even though you
really
seem to only be able to come up with
that one plaintive song
you found inside it.

There have been warm, golden evenings
when our friend Kyle Dillingham
was still a teenager
and we would share soup
and then play music into the night.
Guitars, mandolins, the stand-up bass,
tambourines, egg shakers, wooden frog, didjiridoo
and Kyle on violin.
We were all amateurs,
though we knew—even then—
Kyle was on his way
to a professional career.
Kyle was not only a great fiddler,
he was an instigator:
he got everyone playing music.
It was a great gift.

Now Kyle is all grown up
and playing music all over the world,
yet still here in Oklahoma—
including our Prairie Dinner and Concert
in October.
Now comes
this instrumental and vocal
Christmas album,
A Very Kyle Christmas.
There are songs he’s composed
amid many standards—
all with Kyle’s signature
violin-playing,
which brings richness and texture
and, most of all,
emotion
to the songs of the season.
The mid-eastern strings of Taqsim Miryam
followed by the haunting and beautiful
Mary Did You Know
is my favorite.
Well, maybe…
the string harmonies in O Holy Night
are lush and gorgeous.
And I like the 30’s swing rendition
of White Christmas.
Oh, and the sweet violin and vocal duet
in the tender lullaby that is Away in the Manger.

Kyle has taught us much about the gifts of music
that sweeten
and strengthen
our life together.
Thank you, Kyle,
for gifting us, again,
in this new album.
(Order, by calling 405.808.8804)
But I don’t think he’d want us to stop there.
I think Kyle would want us
to make music together.