Support the Arts and Shop Local and Independent by Mary Aalgaard | | Brainerd, Minnesota

Support the Arts and Shop Local and Independent by Mary Aalgaard

If you want to stop the madness of the shopping season and fight back against commercialism, I recommend attending a holiday concert, supporting the arts, and when you do shop, make it a locally owned store. You can keep the sense of community alive as you spread your holiday cheer and buy meaningful gifts for friends and family. You can share in the reason for the season by attending concerts together, supporting your friends and neighbors as they share their gifts and talents. I've bought CDs by resident musicians. I picked up some handmade items at shops around town. I purchased my books at Turtle Town books in Nisswa where I had a lovely conversation with the owners.

This weekend, a friend and I will attend a concert by From Age to Age. I've been a huge fan of this regional choir from the first beat of music I heard from them. Their director, Andy Miller, a graduate of Brainerd high school, has assembled professional musicians from around the tri-state area who love to sing and bring their music to the people, from small rural communities to nursing homes, as well as larger venues. Andy's gift is to connect people - from age to age. Their tagline is "Transcending Time Through Song." I have felt that. As I listen to their voices filling the room, filling my spirit, I am both in the moment and remembering other songs, other times, and dreaming of the future.

From Age to Age is a choir without barriers. There is no invisible wall separating the musicians from the audience. They engage with us. Andy turns and invites us into the song. Their holiday concert last year was the best gift I could have given myself, a few moments to relax and receive a sense of peace, hope, and joy. This year the choir will sing locally in Onamia on Thursday evening, Little Falls on Friday, and at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Brainerd on Saturday night. All starting at 7:30. The Saturday performance will include the 9th grade and high school choirs, directed by Marcus Aulie.

Your spirit will be lifted by these performances and other local entertainment and church programs that you are able to attend. Find ways to bring meaning to the holidays, and it will help to keep the Grinch away.

For a glimpse at my trip up to Turtle Town and ways to support locals and independents, click over to my personal blog

Peace to you as you gather with family and friends.