The hardest part of writing a Xmas letter is starting it. What to say ? Highlights of our year ? The good things and the bad things about this world ? Something happy, Something sad ? Getting older ? My wonderful dog ? Reflections and what’s next ? Maybe a bit of bragging would help to make you all envious. Irene never brags so this is a problem. I’ll just start and see where it goes.
I’ll start with the big highlight. Sixty five years after Irene’s father’s deportation to Germany his yellowing manuscripts are coming to life with a CD made of his music from these manuscripts and an additional piece since found in Germany. The process was started last year by Cathy and Peter who met up with three very fine and well known Canadian musicians, Norman Hathaway, violinist, Catherine Wilson, pianist and Leslie Fagan, soprano who gathered some other musicians and put together a concert in Toronto of several pieces. This concert represented the first hearing of this lovely music, and for us, and I know for many in the hall, it was a moving experience.
In the meantime in France a concert pianist, Bertrand Giraud, who was giving a concert in our town met with Irene and took copies of the manuscripts back to Paris, was impressed and in collaboration with Amaury du Closel, conductor of the Bucharest Symphony Orchestra and with a bit of help from the French Government prepared a CD of about twenty pieces. This has kept Irene busy throughout the year researching libraries in England, France, Morocco and Germany about her father’s past and including uncovering another manuscript and copyright evidence of other pieces as yet unfound. In addition she has been busy editing and carrying on an active correspondence with the musicians. Against her will she has become an overnight expert using email, search engines and word processing. In May we will be going up to Paris to hear some pieces of Alfred Tokayer’s music in concert. Amaury du Closel has written a book entitled ‘The Voices Stifled by the Third Reich’ It provides the basis for a week of music by this lost generation of musicians from this era and her father’s music will be included. Alfred Tokayer’s disc will be launched at the same time. We have now received additional requests for concerts in France and Germany.
Irene was hoping that someday she would just hear his music and what has occurred has exceeded her wildest dreams.
Another highlight this year is that Cathy decided to bring her two boys to France for the school year. She has a house nearby so we see them almost daily. The boys are now totally bilingual and I think enjoying it here very much. Jack, now 12 and growing rapidly, is building friendships and has taken up fishing and swimming with a vengeance. Ben, age 8, stays closer to home but is proving to be a scholar. They talk our ears off so it’s keeping us young, if we don’t die in the process.
We see more of our friends here than when we were in Canada with many passing through during the year including our sons David and Peter. Add the friends, both French and expats, we have here and we are never lonely.
These are happy years here. Comparatively inexpensive and generally healthier in comparison with living in a big city ; wonderful food - mostly local and fresh, magnificent scenery around us that we never tire of, regular exercise, and music – both jazz and classical – everywhere. Add civilized cities nearby like Montpellier, Toulouse and Barcelone to escape to and the high speed TGV to get us anywhere in Europe. As for French and European politics in a newly formed and still chaotic European Union, it’s wild and filled with endless debates and keeps us awake.
About the world; you follow the news too, so there isn’t much I can add. (I do write a blog http://justtryingtosortitout.blogspot.com/ if you are interested in my ramblings) I guess my big concern is that the twentieth century was all about the ME society, consumerism, globalization and GNP growth. If Gore is right and the world is running out of time then we will have to switch quickly to becoming a WE instead of a ME society to pull us out of our gluttonous and destructive habits. Forget the scientific magic pills to save us ; it’s up to us and I have my doubts.
And, oh yes, my dog ! She is a beautiful, lively but gentle and a loveable animal. Shares our walks and because of her good manners, our frequent restaurant meals. She is our good friend. You might accuse us, like all dog owners, of being biased but we can say that of owners of cats, budgies, and even some foolish gold fish owners, not to mention mothers of small children.
Irene celebrated her 80th birthday this October and her young husband passed his 78th birthday in December. We are still in good health although our joints are getting creaky and etc, etc, etc. The sad thing about getting older is that in the past three years we have lost some wonderful friends, still loving life, and full of warmth, generosity and humour until the end. Linda Truckel Smith, Gigi MacDonald, Connie Morgan, Boris Kaufman, Bob Barrow, and John Dentay are still in our thoughts and will be missed.
As for Santa I hear he will soon need a boat instead of a sleigh.
Merry Xmas to all
Don and Irene Currie