Oh no….. no Christmas Carols. The year has been so busy, right up until today that I had not realized I would not get to sing Christmas carols this year. I have come to grips with not sitting down together with my extended family and friends for a holiday meal. I have used the wonder of Amazon to deliver presents to friends who live far away. I am mentally prepared for present exchanges outside on the patio and my boxing up Christmas dinner to go for the grandparents…. but no Christmas carols???

Each year in mid December I drive up to the elementary school and take out the “shake-rattle-and-roll duffle”. This duffle bag is packed with shakey eggs, tambourines, ukuleles, jingle bells, blocks, and all manner of loud instruments that shake, rattle & roll. The only thing funnier than the looks of fear in the PTA mom’s eyes as I hand out 30 noise making devices into a single classroom is the joy in the faces of the children. I look forward to it every year. Last visit my rock-star-husband Paul joined me and we were such a hit we visited each classroom of the entire grade. He played while I separated the classroom into 12 groups and assigned one of the days of Christmas to each group of children. It is amazing how even the shyest of children learns to jump up and shake the tambourine as they sing at the top of their voice “FIVE GOLDEN RINGS”.

It is not just children who can light up when given a chance to play some music. A few years ago Paul and I went on a trip with a group of 7 other CEO’s and their spouses. We had a long trip in a bus and like the Grinch I got an idea. An awful idea. I had a wonderful, awful idea. I asked the bus driver to stop at the closest music store and I ran inside and bought up an entire section of shakey eggs, a cheap ukulele, triangle, block, tambourine, and yes, even a cowbell. Paul looked at me and clearly thought I was deranged. “Vanessa, Those are CEO’s, not kindergartners, this is going to be embarrassing….”.

I loaded back up into the bus and announced my plan. I had each CEO-pair pick a song from their phone and handed out the instruments. The first song was relatively quiet, but by the middle of the song #2, husbands and wives were stealing instruments from one another. By song #3, there was a fabulous rendition of “more cowbell” and choreography was added to the melee of singing and shaking. I looked at Paul, shrugged my shoulders and just smiled knowingly. Music brings joy, what can I say. So now every year at the company Christmas/Holiday party I bring out the Shake-Rattle-and-Roll Duffle… and it is fantastic to see engineers and business executives shoulder to shoulder singing and shaking away!

No alt text provided for this image

So as you deal with the sadness this season of loved ones lost, or friends across the country instead of sharing the table together. I hope you will join with me in celebrating and being grateful for all the geeks, scientists that make possible the coming vaccines and the hope that brings to all of us. I pray you can find things to be grateful for in your own world.

No alt text provided for this image

I am blessed to be leading the most inspirational team I have ever seen or heard of. They have learned to work in a new way, communicate like never before, and serve our customers with compassion, all while creating new product out of thin air. We have customers, vendor partners, bankers and advisors who made surviving this year possible.

I miss our Christmas party and the time to sing and play together. I miss judging the office decorating contest and being bribed by homemade cookies. I miss seeing my team’s amazing faces while I stand on the counter and get choked up telling them how amazing they are. They have never deserved that celebration more than they do this year.

My gift to my Unplugged friends this season is a smile. I encourage you to remember and live the joy of music. It can be Jingle Bells, Handel’s Messiah, Grandma Got Run-over by a Reindeer… or just about anything. I will be adding to the playlist below throughout the week.. let me know if you have a favorite I can add. If you will click the link below we will sing for you Feliz Navidad. From our family to yours…

If you are a new friend who has found me through Unplugged, please click Subscribe and I will notify you when the next Riff’s on Life, Motherhood, and Leadership are out. I can also be found on twitter at @vanessaannogle.

Copyright 2020 Vanessa Ogle All Rights Reserved