With Christmas coming up later this month, shopping and gift-giving (a tradition that for some people seems to preempt the holiday’s Christian significance) are probably on everyone’s minds. I’m not a kid anymore and in any case I view giving and receiving material objects as hardly the real reason for the season. But I do like to see people happy when they get a token of personal affection, especially from family members and it’s nice to hum Christmas songs as I go through the store, surrounded by tins of caramel popcorn and displays of fudge brownie mix. Yes, I do like Christmas carols!
In fact, I have been collecting old CDs of Christmas music that I found very, very cheap at resale stores. Most are 10-25 years old, but Christmas is a lot older than that. And every so often I find a lovely recording. We’ve had traditional Christmas music in our home for decades—songs we plug into the TV or computer’s USB port and listen to every year. But after so long I felt some refreshing would be good. Some new arrangements. So I’ve been working on getting some new renditions to join the ones we always listen to. Most likely many people have a favorite version of a Christmas carol, by a particular artist or orchestra, that they feel just really captures the mood of that song. The Christmas emotions.
There are so many Christmas songs written through over a millennium of Christmases and they are much more than just different variations on the same thing—different flavors of holiday popcorn. I will add that I love holiday popcorn. But as I listened to so much Christmas music recently, I’ve noticed how different ones speak to different people. Almost all of them are reiterations of the same idea: Jesus was a baby in a manger, angels praised his birth, all should rejoice, the holidays are here, Christmas is a meaningful season, bells and other religious emblems are important, etc. But every one holds different emotions about this event. Some express people to whom Christmas is a cultural winter holiday, a time of peace, while others celebrate the religious theology or reflect on bittersweet personal feelings. Many tunes with far from spiritual origins, such as Greensleeves, are recycled to include Christmas messages, while some carols seem to have little point at all. (We Wish You a Merry Christmas was the original carol for those people who were just showing up for the holiday food!) 😊
At Christmas people sing. Churchgoing or not—Christian or not. People sing. And in their songs, they are shown quite as much as God is.
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