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10. Monotone Angel

Reseda High School Vocal Ensemble performance of "Monotone Angel" in December 1976.

During December, I’m posting my Top 10 favorite holiday songs. Each song has a special story or meaning behind it for me. What stories or meanings do you have for your favorite holiday songs?

As a testament to my singing ability, I only had one solo in my first holiday concert at Reseda High School in December 1976. I was the Monotone Angel.

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My Top 10 Holiday Songs

Reseda High School Vocal Ensemble 1977

I was in choirs from elementary school through high school. Some of my favorite songs were the ones we sang at holiday concerts. By “holiday,” I’m not being “War on Christmas-y.” Most of the songs are Christmas ones, but some are not. All of them have some sort of story or meaning for me — including songs that came out after I limited my singing to the shower.

So, for December, I’m doing the “Top 10″ thing and listing my Top 10 favorite holiday songs. My ranking is based on what the song means to me and the story behind it. As I share my stories, you might think about what the song’s meaning is to you.

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The other side of gratitude

Sometimes, finger-pointing is necessary.At U.S. Thanksgiving, I usually write about the importance of gratitude. This year, I’m writing about the importance of the other side of gratitude: guilt.

Guilt has negative connotations, which is understandable because it can be destructive when used improperly or manipulatively. However, the right kind of guilt can be beneficial for us and the people we care about. Just like gratitude, guilt reminds us of our responsibility to others.

To explain, let’s look at why guilt has been so maligned these days.

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Reading other people’s manuals

Manuals for a Samsung washer and dryerI’ve been a technical writer for over 30 years, and I admit that I don’t always read the manual. If a product is well-designed, I can figure out how to use it on my own. When I get stuck, or if it requires complicated assembly or setup, I definitely read the manual.

When I do read the manual, I look at it with a critical eye. How well does it tell me what to do? Is it easy to understand? Can I trust that what it says is correct?

We recently bought a new Samsung washing machine and dryer. Since I had to show other members of our family how to use these devices, I decided to read the manuals first. Here are my impressions about them.

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Poem: Motherland

View from the Firehouse Restaurant, ResedaI was in the Valley to do research when I stopped at the Firehouse Restaurant for lunch. It is near the corner of Victory and Reseda, close to where I used to live. As I looked out the large windows, I thought about what Reseda means to me and why I’m still drawn to it years after I moved away. I often joke on Facebook about Reseda being the “Glorious Motherland.” I then started thinking about my mom and what she meant to me. That was when “Motherland” gained a whole other meaning and inspired this poem.

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