Family Connections and Christmas Letters

Family Connections and Christmas Letters

Yesterday, I received a surprise Christmas letter from John and Deidra Doan who had just returned home from his 28th season of Holiday concerts and second year of calling it “Christmas Unplugged – Reclaiming the Holiday Spirit.”John’s timing was uncanny and I feel as though we are both ancestrally and spiritually connected, though separated on west and east coasts.  You see, this year, not aware of John’s concert, or its title, I too, chose to refocus this year’s Christmas on the reason for the season–Jesus–the most amazing gift, the blessed hope of all who believe!  And, like John, I wrote letters of special praise and hope to 20 some family members as my Christmas gifts to them.  Everyone warmly and appreciatively received them, which, in turn, warmed my heart and spirit.

Our Love of Music, History, Blogging, and Dogs

To add to the coincidences and/or family connections, we, too, had a surprise guest of a loving and entertaining bulldog pup (well, close, a bullmastiff).  Here’s John and Deidra’s music video of their bulldog, Lyra:

and below is our family’s 8-week old Christmas visitor, Justice:


Justice literally stole our hearts and stole the show.  A long line of family members formed–those who wanted to steal him away from his dog sitter.  If I could manage to steal away Justice, maybe he and Lyra could continue our connections with yet another branch of little loved ones! (ha-ha)


A Reblog from John Doan’s Page:

And John and my family’s similarities continue–his love of music, history, research, blogging, and dogs.  The following is a reblog from John’s page that I hope you will enjoy.

John Doan

Christmas Unplugged – Reclaiming the Holiday Spirit

John doan Victorian Christmas Concert with harp buitar

“John Doan breathes new life into musty tunes with his pristine, intricate picking, which is laced with the delicacy of a snowflake … that evokes the nostalgic, mystical side of Christmas and leaves the shopping mall sentimentality behind.”

The “Christmas Unplugged – Reclaiming the Holiday Spirit” Concert with John Doan is a much anticipated annual concert tour through North America celebrating its 28th year. The Emmy-Nominated show explores how the Victorians invented many Christmas traditions we remember and quite a few we have forgotten. Click Calendar for a current concert and ticket information.

John Doan VCC Stage1

The concert recaptures the feeling of a time before radio, TV, computer games, DVD, CD and MP3 players provided most of our musical home entertainment. Amateurism was very much alive back then, and people actually entertained themselves, especially at the holidays.

During the concert, Doan plays over a dozen late nineteenth-century instruments such as the harp guitar, classical banjo, chartola, and ukelin, all original American instruments. These instruments were once popular in American parlors, on vaudeville stages, and in mandolin orchestras. John Doan’s imaginative storytelling, paired with physical comedy, takes the audience on a tour through the history and evolution of social interaction through music that is both informative and entertaining.

The multimedia concert is accompanied by a slide show of old catalogs and archival photographs, sharing the origins of many of our American carols and Christmas traditions.

The audience becomes part of the show by singing (or whistling) along to a nineteenth-century accompaniment. Twenty-one arrangements and medleys of favorite carols are performed on dozens of traditional Americana musical instruments along with several arrangements from his Wrapped In White album. After the concert, the audience is invited to come up on stage for a closer look at the fine craftsmanship that produced these vintage instruments.

Zithers Christmas John Doan

Harp Guitar gt mandola Christmas John Doan

“Call him Mr. Christmas.”

“…guitarist and composer John Doan, putting a new twist on the standard Christmas concert, brought that 19th-century tradition of homemade music to life…His low-key approach, in fact, effectively communicated the charmingly casual joys of the popular music of the earlier day. He’s performing important historical work, too, by making his scholarship and respect for those lovingly crafted instruments and the sweet, simple music they were designed for accessible to today’s listeners.”

Tuba Guitar Christmas John Doan

The “Christmas Unplugged – Reclaiming the Holiday Spirit” Concert With John Doan … had large, enthusiastic audiences and earned a substantial profit. A number of the people attending this year’s concert came on the recommendation of people who saw the concert last year… People frequently commented on how entertaining and informative it was and how much they enjoyed John’s humor. Most touching, though, were the people who told me that it made them think about music as something other than a spectator activity–that music can be something personal that brings people together and enriches their lives.”

John Doan Christmas Unplugged Maestro Interview

“Thanks for a great evening of entertainment that was much appreciated by our capacity audience. The Christmas Unplugged – Reclaiming the Holiday Spirit” Concert was the highlight of our “Christmas at the Lincoln” weekend. Your stories, slides, and above all your high level of artistry on an amazing variety of vintage instruments made for a wonderful performance. The antique decorations were also a big hit with the audience as was your willingness to stay afterwards and talk to the many people who came forward to see the instruments.”

“John was literally Mister Christmas as he cast a spell over our rural audience… His offering is more than just a concert. It is an audio-visual treat for the whole Family.”

“John’s music style delighted the audience. His particular gift for storytelling added meaning to each piece that he played… His Christmas concert included fascinating stories of Christmas’ past and beautiful holiday music on many unusual instruments from his collection. It was truly a pleasure to work with John Doan. His press material was well-prepared and delivered in a timely manner. His relaxed style made set-up and preparation for his concerts fun and even educational.”


  1. Pingback: Christmas Unplugged | John Doan | Dec 7 | Center for Spiritual Living | Tacoma
  2. Pingback: Searching for and Documenting Ancestral Gifts and Talents

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