Christmas on the Beach ~ Sunshine For Rainy Days 

Victoria Falls, Zambia  |  Lisnabreeny, Belfast


She: Why are all your songs so serious? Couldn’t you just write something fun for a change? (If you’re happily married after 25 years, you can have a level of candour that would have caused a major domestic in the first decade!)

Me: All serious! I think that unfair! What about all the kids songs, and youth songs, they’re fun?

She: Well ok, but do they ALL have to be about church? Why can’t you write a hit that we can retire on – something just for fun, please!!! (For the record this woman is WAY holier than me, but she has zero tolerance for dreary, self serious worship songs with no zip in them. It’s a personality thing. Can’t sit still. Can’t stop running. Always changing things. Drives me mad. Can’t get enough of her!)

Out of the blue…

We got an invite to cousin Patricia’s wedding in Zambia, her mum Anne was wondering if I could play at it. It was going to be down at Victoria Falls at the end of August. It was a big journey that involved leaving our eldest (20) in charge of our youngest(7) while the middle kid was in Canada. We would be spread over 3 continents if anything went wrong. But it was just the right thing to do. We’ve a particular friendship with our Zambian/Irish cousins the Kapolyos, Anne & Joe were particularly supportive at some key moments, and I look up to them a lot.

Also from a selfish point of view, what an adventure, we could use the trip to celebrate our 25th anniversary. so we went, a bit anxious about leaving the ‘kids’, but really excited about meeting everyone and seeing the falls.

It was the most magical trip. Being there with friends and family we hadn’t seen in ages, meeting Yabs’ family, being part of the pre-wedding outdoor Boma meal they arranged and the wedding day itself. The sense of occasion was just unbeatable.

Playing for Patricia's wedding on the banks of the Zambezi

Mose O Tunya (Victoria Falls) from Zimbabwe

Mose O Tunya (Victoria Falls) from Zambia

On Board ~ our 'African Queen' moment!

The wedding venue was a beautiful hotel right on the Zambezi, above the falls within view of the mist beyond the falls edge. You could sit and watch the sun set over the river under a huge amber sky. Words do not come close. I was so moved by the beauty of the sunset. People hushed in reverence at it.

The wedding itself was conducted outside on the hotel lawn at the river bank. A gospel choir from a local church sang, and three of us played – flute, acoustic, and jazz guitar. Patricia & Yabs had their wedding photos down at the falls, and the reception inside the hotel was great fun. It was such an honour to share in everyone’s happiness, and we were able to ‘borrow’ the celebrations for our anniversary.

An epic journey

My younger cousin Simon and his wife Olivia had arrived at the falls by bike. They had decided to build an expedition around the wedding, cycling through 7 countries over 4 months to make the beach in CapeTown in time for Christmas. It was causing quite a stir, one or two thought it was a bit rash. But they were seasoned travellers, and had prepared their kit meticulously. As we followed their trip by blog, it dawned on me that the seasons were upside down and they’d be hitting that CapeTown beach in high summer. Anne & Patricia rightly pointed out that most of the world’s population celebrate Christmas at the height of summer, no pine trees or snow in sight.

So, we had our subject matter for a fun Christmas Song. It’s not entirely brain dead! It makes the simple point that HOW we celebrate Christmas is cultural, but what it’s about is love, joy & peace. It’s finishes with a riff from the traditional carol -Joy to the world.

The video is probably more captivating than the song, although it has a lovely gentle relaxed groove like you’d expect for a beach song. It follows their 4 month cycle expedition and their overwhelmingly positive encounters along the way.

It hasn’t made that fortune Lisa jokingly hoped for from a less churchy song, but there’s always next Christmas!

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