This year I write this message with a heavy heart.
It’s not because the world seems to have gone more haywire or the political world is its normal maddening self. Instead, it’s because a member of the extended monoblogue family is no longer with us.
Traditionally I have left the site dark on Christmas Day and I take the time a day or two before to write a Christmas message to put up on the morning of Christmas Eve. I’m not going to depart from that tradition, but the voice that made this Christmas post special for many years has been stilled.
In the video below, which I used last year for the first time, you would never know that Michele Hogsett (the woman singing) was at the time waging a vigorous fight against breast cancer. Alas, she ran the last of her seven-year race back on December 8 and the celebration of her life (which featured this song) was last Sunday.
I call Michele part of the extended monoblogue family because she graced these pages a fair number of times for my long-running Weekend of Local Rock segment. Over the last few years it’s dwindled to an extent but two of the staple events I’ve used to keep it going were the Concert for a Random Soldier where Michele and her husband Jim regularly played and the (Save the…) BreastFest which had a six-year run from 2009 to last year as a part of Delmarva Bike Week. Sadly, Michele was simply too ill to make a go of it this year.
I also called Michele and Jim my friends. They were the ones who invited me (and later Kim and I) to share Thanksgiving with them for several years as part of their extended family. At her service, I heard from those affiliated with the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition (the beneficiary of BreastFest) about how Michele was the first to interact with newly-diagnosed women and let them know what to expect, giving them pointers on how to best wage their own personal fight. In short, she was an asset to the community, and she is survived by her husband, the host of cats and dogs they kept, and the music she helped to create which brought joy to this listener. Someday we will see each other where the ocean meets the sky.
But even with this personal loss, the other sad part about this Christmas is that I can, almost word for word, rewrite what I wrote last year:
In the runup from Thanksgiving to Christmas… we’ve seen a lot of senseless tragedy. Unfortunately, much of it was brought about by hatred and evil – hatred over that last few layers of skin which determines its shade or of the belief system one follows, and the evil which justifies taking another’s life because of their chosen religion or profession. It’s very sad that in the time of season we celebrate life we should be advocating death. Once we stopped a world war to celebrate Christmas, but now…well, peace on earth seems but a quaint saying, and too many consider a successful Christmas as one where they got the biggest presents or threw the best party ever.
Fortunately, I can also conclude with:
In my case, this Christmas will probably provide neither of those worldly goals, but as I grow older I feel that I understand more about what Christmas is supposed to be. I’m not one to be prodded by the force-fed commercialism we now endure into what most consider “Christmas spirit” – in fact, when I was living on my own before I met Kim I didn’t even put up a Christmas tree – but in these final days before the holiday I can pause and take stock of the miracle and blessing of Christ’s birth and the Earth receiving its King.
Let’s all take stock of what we received in the city of David, and let’s take some time to be grateful for the gift of the company that family and friends can provide.
So from my rocking chair and laptop in Salisbury, Maryland, I wish you and yours a Merry Christmas. I’ll be back on Saturday.