Guest Author - Michelle Anne Cope
Take it to Heart
Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.
The real reason of the season can easily become shuffled under midnight sales, cards, wrapping paper, parties and last minute presents. But, if we stop and look, we can find our true Christmas spirit in times spent with family and friends. And, if we stop and listen, we can hear our true Christmas spirit in melodic messages of hope, salvation and praise. This year, I had a chance to hear that Christmas spirit performed live by Clay Aiken at the Warner Theatre in Washington, D.C. I went with my best friend, Kelly.
photo by Judy Covington
As part of Clay’s holiday tradition, he uses his God given gift of voice to share the Good News with his audiences. This year, he also shared the stage with his fans. Clay invited fans to send in personal stories about Christmas. He read, he laughed, he cried, and then he chose the best ones to be read on stage. Some stories were read by their original writers, others were read by friends or family. In Washington, D.C., we laughed about fruit cakes, shared the loss of a child, and marveled over the everlasting romance of a young couple separated by war. In between the fan stories, we heard stories told in song. Dressed simply and majestically in black, Clay Aiken, Angela Fisher, and Quiana Parler filled the theatre with music, song, and spirit. There were times I felt goose bumps because the message was so clear; the promise of God, the birth, and the Good News filled my heart.
photo by Judy Covington
I’m always very careful when I write about my trips to see Clay. I don’t feel right trying to fill the role of a professional reviewer. I’m a fan and have been since the beginning. My life has changed because of it. It’s not all about Clay. I’m sure he could never pick me out of a crowd or even remember my name, but the fans, Clay’s fans, they remember me. See, we all remember each other and at each concert, during each tour, we meet old and new friends. This year, I met Judy and Roger Covington. I have Judy to thank for the pictures throughout this article; as well as something else. Something she has no idea about.
This December, I celebrated ten years of marriage with my husband, Jeff. His anniversary gift to me was a plane ticket so I could go see Clay Aiken in Washington, DC. I sat in the semi-darkened Warner Theatre feeling a little guilty. Jeff has been wonderful during my fandom, never once questioning travel expenses, posters purchased, or key chains acquired. He says he understands and that he loves me. I believe it.
That night in Washington, D.C., Judy and Roger Covington made their way down the aisle and worked to avoid purses and feet as they found their seats next to me. While I admired the beautiful scarf Judy had purchased, I noticed how Roger tenderly kept a hand on Judy’s elbow. I introduced myself and found out that the couple from New York has been married for 36 years.
“Wow!” Was my exact reaction. I asked Roger, “So, you have to come to the concerts?”
“No,” he said. “I want to come to the concerts. I like being with Judy and I also like Clay. Judy and I have a lot of fun together, we travel, meet people. I really enjoy it."
I believe it. I watched Roger and Judy as much as I watched Clay and the story tellers. Roger would glance at Judy and smile when he saw how enthralled she was with the music and readings. I would see him smile, and I saw not only contentment to be where he was, but his love of being there with Judy. I remember wondering if Jeff ever looked at me like that.
The day following the Christmas concert, the first winter storms of the season crossed the country. My flights were changed, delayed and eventually cancelled. Kelly kindly retrieved me from the airport and took me back to her house. Jeff is a truck driver and was able to be rerouted to Virginia to pick me up – late. Kelly sacrificed her sleep and at 2 A.M. drove me to meet up with Jeff. Thank you, Kelly.
When we pulled up, Jeff jumped out of his truck. It was like a story, he hugged me tight, and then, he held me away from him and he looked at me, and at that moment, I saw it. It was that “look”, the same look that I’d seen when Roger looked at Judy.
The look is not a secret; it’s the look of love, and it’s one that friends, couples, husbands, wives, siblings, children and parents share everyday. I think there are times we can miss it if we don't watch close. I can’t help but wonder if it’s the same look that God gives us as well. I'm going to start watching.
*You can still catch up with Clay. Check out the website listed below for the remaining tour dates. Take someone you love.