Soaring Holiday Music & ‘Cowboy’ Gifts

Bruce Ewing
Bruce Ewing, soloist, and Ann Grisham, sign language interpreter, appeared with the dancers dressed as angels in the “Mary Did You Know” number, part of The Living Christmas Tree concert.
Photo by Diane Taylor

I remember, in my 20s, pooh-poohing the idea of seeing Niagara Falls. If “everybody” went there, I was certain I could find something more distinctive to do. But then, on a business trip to Canada, I was taken to the Falls. Wow! I was overwhelmed. Stunning, beautiful, spectacular! “Everybody” knew what they were talking about.

I felt the same way prior to last Sunday when I went with friends to the Community Lutheran Church in Las Vegas for a holiday concert called “The Living Christmas Tree”. I attend lots of shows in Las Vegas. Frankly, I wondered just how good a church’s “celebration of Christmas in song” could be. Lots of people I know were talking about the concert, however, so I decided to accompany my friend Alice and two of her friends to the church.

Once again, my reaction was “Wow!” A smooth-voiced Carol Anderson as narrator, a choir of some 90 people perched within a huge lighted holiday tree, a live orchestra featuring Philip Fortenberry on the organ, dancers, a children’s choir, sign-language interpreters, guest soloist Joan Sobel (formerly from Phantom, Las Vegas) and conductor/soloist Bruce Ewing (from several Las Vegas musical shows; as a conductor, music seems to flow from his arms) … all combined efforts to bring the audience music and sign language that soared, made toes tap, amused and inspired.

Joe Eggert
Among the gift items at Cowboy Christmas were a number of bronze sculptures. These faces are part of a Joe Eggert bronze called “Cloudburst”.
Photo by Diane Taylor

The concert was given three times last weekend, it’s fourth year in its latest incarnation. The audience was told that it would not be given in this form next year due to the amount of time and work involved (which must have been considerable). However, if that pledge is broken, I now join the chorus of fans who recommend the show. All that was requested this year was a quick voluntary donation during a short intermission. The attached video gives a brief idea of what “The Living Christmas Tree” was all about.

Changing subjects…completely.

Thursday, another friend and I went Christmas-looking. We might have called it Christmas shopping had we bought lots of stuff, but actually we just looked and drooled. The destination was the Las Vegas Convention Center and the Cowboy Christmas Gift Show. This “granddaddy” of Western-themed holiday gift shows is held in conjunction with the National Finals Rodeo.

Yes, the sellers at Cowboy Christmas were indeed expecting Happy Holidays.
Yes, the sellers at Cowboy Christmas were indeed expecting Happy Holidays.
Photo by Diane Taylor

Last year, for a brief time, Las Vegas was told the rodeo would be re-locating, but ultimately it returned to Las Vegas for the 30th year here. And thank goodness. Looking at the cars in the convention-center parking lot and seeing the bulging shopping bags folks were carrying to their cars, the loss of all this activity and commerce would have been devastating.

I have attended Cowboy Christmas in the past, so I know more activities were at the convention center than those we saw. Nonetheless, if you stayed home in the ranch house instead of venturing out, you can always watch the video. The goods on display at Cowboy Christmas are generally gorgeous.

Yep, this week, two videos!