Each year you probably become inundated with Christmas songs. I understand completely. Yet, with the unavoidable on its way, I got reminiscing recently and it seemed like someone or something was opening up my heart– like opening up the front of my upright piano and plucking the strings inside. This was from a far away time yet I’m feeling it now– connected to the future by a magical hand sweeping across all my heart strings, from low to high, giving me hope.
Certain seasonal songs take me there.
I can still see my Mom now, as she danced around the living room singing this 1950s Christmas gem. “Come on Freddie, get up and dance, its Christmas time!” as she laughed at my preteen shyness. But before long, we were singing and decorating the Christmas tree, getting into the holiday spirit and having fun.
And, my mom took great pride in doing the tree up just right … tinsel icicles had to hang straight and singularly with swirls of colourful garland and beads and all sorts of baubles hanging just so.
Now my Dad, on the other hand, had a very unique style of decorating the tree. He considered it a success if he hit the tree with tinsel from ten feet away. My mom was never impressed with this, but her zest for life could never be dampened or, after all this time, forgotten.
— Blue Christmas by Elvis Presley
Elvis is Elvis! I mean, really, I’m not going to include something from “The King”?
Being slightly ahead of my generation I didn’t know Elvis well, but John Lennon declared, “Nothing really affected me until I heard Elvis. If there hadn’t been an Elvis, there wouldn’t have been the Beatles.”
Elvis started out as someone from nowhere and ended up as someone everyone knew, everywhere.
It’s only on looking back (check out YouTube) that we see how great he really was– the real deal– with non-manufactured moves all his own. He did it his way. In later years, even as the pressures of stardom weighed heavily on him, his vocals were still as pure as they were genuine.
Those who could see past the tassels and rhinestones of the ‘superstar’ saw a sincere individual who loved people and who had an immense talent for interpreting and transferring the feeling of a great song. His ending was a sad parody of himself– the good, the bad and the ugly of a life of fame– but his personal, larger-than-life magnetism, lives on.
— Happy Xmas (War is Over) by John Lennon
This hauntingly beautiful modern day Christmas classic is another personal favourite because it asks a telling question:
“And so this is Christmas / And what have you done?
Another year over/ A new one just begun.”
It challenges us to realize that leaving it up to others costs a lot. At my worst, it’s hard for me to voluntarily think of other’s problems– even for five minutes– because my own needs and concerns get in the way. The truth is we all have a capacity for service to others; it’s just that some value it much more than others.
The holiday season shows that I’m doubly blessed: enveloped in the love of family and friends, seeing the excitement of children growing, the tradition of great meals, fun, laughter and scores of seasonal music so sweet for the soul. I am also blessed by the undeserving presence of divine love– without which, all the rest would be noise.
‘Peace on Earth?’ I’m thinking that starts with me. But, saying it and doing it are two different things. According to Lennon’s, Whatever Gets You Thru the Night,
“Do it wrong or do it right, whatever gets you to the light. It’s alright.”
Whatever we do let’s be thankful for the season and for a more hopeful, happier new year.
Merry Christmas to all!