opinion

Thanksgiving Memories...

Nick Alexander here...

When I was nine years old, I had dropped the chance to be Simon.... from Alvin and the Chipmunks.

My family had just moved to New York City, and my mother took a sales job at Macy's. One of the perks of working there is that, every Thanksgiving, you and your family all had to trudge yourself out of bed at three-o-clock in the morning, head over to a decrepid warehouse, one which had been converted into a huge costuming facility, and get yourselves made up into any number of costumes, to march in the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

It was my first time, and I was looking forward to being a clown. We were to march in front of the Muppet bus--the same schoolbus that was in The Muppet Movie. All the muppet characters were inside the bus, looking out, waving to thousands of children on the streets, and millions of viewers in their homes. It was exciting.

But while I waited in line, there was this costume facilitator wandering throughout the lines, calling for anyone to be "Simon". The one who was supposed to be Simon called out sick, and he needed a tall replacement. I happened to have been tall for my age, the perfect height, and so he singled me out. "Wanna be Simon?"

Being my first time, I was confused. I didn't want to separate from my sister, and, well, I was scared. This was uncharted territory. I was trained to be a clown. I could handle being a clown. There were thousands of clowns at this event, and I could smile and be goofy in relative anonymity. But ... a Chipmunk? I'd be the center of attention, (for a little bit), and have to shake hands with tons of children.

The man came to me three times. Three times I refused. I had to be the clown. And to think, for all these years, having memories of being a clown in the parade, I could have been Simon.

So, this Thanksgiving, I thank God for the choices I've faced throughout my life, and the blessings that God had given to me. But many of these same blessings were the result of hard, crazy choices that, had I refused, would never had come again. I've since learned that I have to trust Him, even when presented with a crazy opportunity, knowing that He would be there to bring more blessings from it. Most of my wonderful blessings in life came as a result of trusting God in uncharted territory for me--including converting to the Catholic Church.

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody. Give Thanks to our wonderful Lord, who always has a tremendous plan for your lives, a tremendous crazy opportunity that would mix the best of your talents, the uniqueness of your character, with the needs of the community that you live in. Who raises up incredible saints.

And be sure to check out the Thanksgiving related posts on this board.

What is TopCatholicSongs?

What is "TopCatholicSongs"? TopCatholicSongs is a service to all Catholics, to provide a way to share the best that Catholic Music has to offer. This is a site to keep coming back to, to discover new artists, new songs, new styles, that speak to who you are as a dynamic Catholic Christian. To speak to issues that you are dealing with. To communicate our awesome beliefs about our faith, our love for Jesus Christ, our commitment to church teaching. It will be consistent with the myriad apsects of Catholic faith. It will reinforce themes on the liturgical calendar. It will speak to you, encourage you, bless you. If you have very little knowledge about the Catholic music "scene", this is the perfect place to start. It will open your doors to the incredible variety there is within Catholic artists, whether from contemporary flavors or from our ancient heritage. It will also cut to the chase, providing the best Catholic music can offer. The songs are chosen from a committed private group of lovers of Catholic music, whether from musicians themselves, to A&R reps, to radio/podcast djs, to the fans. The songs need to be nominated to be chosen, and the artists themselves nominate their own songs. Bookmark this page as it will continue to change over the next few months, as more lists come up. As artists share their story, or their influences, or their favorite songs, or insightful commentary. And if you are a Catholic musician that wants their music to be counted, the you have to join the forums. There is no initiation fee. There is no paperwork. But what you get out of it is a greater publicity for your music. It is the goal of this board that both the major Catholic labels and the indie Catholic musicians get to both benefit from the spirit of healthy competition, and that those interested in discovering Catholic music would benefit the most. Catholic music has lied dormant for too long now, and here is a tremendous opportunity to change things around. If you have any questions, feel free to email me, or to ask on the comment page.

A Wretch Like Me, Who Saved And Set Me Free

This morning at liturgy, the cantor directed us to sing "Amazing Grace." (There was no other instruction). As the entire congregation began, there was a definite derailment of the community-building that happened in the song: The entire congregation, sang: Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me... The cantor, however, went with the alternate version (printed in footnoted text): Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved and set me free... The result was cacophonious to the worst extent. People felt like they were competing with the cantor, not being led by him. And while I can understand some people's reservations to the term "wretch like me", these very words were most appropos for the reading today, about Zacheus, a scandalous tax collector being forgiven of His sins. Still, there is a cardinal rule: try to stick to the words on the page--it's what we're all singing from. To be set free does not mean we are to be set free from the constraints of the parish hymnal.
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