Archived Story

Hark! The Christmas compromises sing

Published 10:48am Friday, December 6, 2013

Column: Things I Tell My Wife, by Matthew Knutson

“I forgot to tell you about my choir rehearsal tomorrow,” I told my wife, knowing she wouldn’t be thrilled.

’Tis the season of compromising. I didn’t intend to tell my wife about my choir rehearsal at the last minute, but that’s what happened. The special Sunday night rehearsal marked the beginning of a busy week where nearly every evening would require us to be going in different directions.

I’m a member of the local community choir that Waldorf College organizes, and we have our big Christmas with Waldorf concert on Saturday and Sunday.

My wife likes music, but doesn’t like that it keeps me from spending more time with her. We’ve been meeting for the past semester once a week for a little more than an hour each time in preparation for the concert, and each week my wife is a little more agitated about the time I’m spending away from home. This particular rehearsal was an extra one for the selections we sing with the college’s combined choirs, meaning it was not on the regular day and was extra long.

I’ve invited her to join the community choir here in Forest City, but she simply isn’t interested in it. It’s a shame really because she’s definitely the better singer between the two of us. I wouldn’t make her join though, just like she wouldn’t make me quit. I think this time of year is about compromise, especially for couples in their first year of marriage,.

A great example would be when we celebrated Thanksgiving last week. Figuring holiday schedules can certainly be touchy when you have no precedent set. As a new household, we don’t have any traditions, so this first year comes with discoveries that spouses don’t think of when they are standing at the altar proclaiming their eternal love for each other.

Last week we spent a few days at my parents’ place in Owatonna, which meant Sera spent her Thanksgiving away from her siblings and a gathering in the Twin Cities with several families from Madagascar.

When we established our holiday plan, we didn’t know her entire family would be getting together in Minneapolis, which is a much easier drive than where her parents live in Topeka, Kan. Sera compromised, and we ended up seeing my in-laws on Black Friday when they spent the night at our house on their way back to Topeka. For Christmas we’ll be driving to her parent’s home to celebrate at the church where Sera’s father is the pastor.

This holiday season in particular has our calendar packed. In addition to Christmas with Waldorf, we have a trip to the Twin Cities for my wife’s graduate school classes, extended family gatherings and church Christmas programs. I’m beginning to wonder how married couples with children handle it all. Figuring out how we’re bringing the dog with us is overwhelming enough. At some point, people must reach a point of exhaustion, which is likely the opposite of what we should be feeling at this time of year.

That’s why I’m thankful for these choir rehearsals even though they mean spending less time with my wife. They’re leading up to something worthwhile. There’s something simply magical when a group of talented singers gather in a church to sing songs of worship. I particularly enjoy the classic Christmas songs when the entire audience joins in singing songs like “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” and “Angels We Have Heard on High.” These will be the moments that stand out to me when I reflect back on the busyness of the holiday season. I love hearing the voices of a church filled with people singing with one voice.

When people compromise this season, whether it be spending a little more time away from your spouse for a choir rehearsal or not being with your family on a certain holiday, it all seems worthwhile when it takes you beyond focusing on yourself. Perhaps we can all find a little bit of the meaning of Christmas when that happens.


Matthew Knutson is a marketing specialist at Waldorf College in Forest City, Iowa. Find him online at