‘Tis the season. While I love this time of year, usually the sound of round-the-clock Christmas songs makes me scratch. However, for 2015, due to an overload of Disney Junior tunes that have been lodged in my inner ear on repeat shuffle for months, cheery carols and gospel medleys have been a welcome treat thus far. Perhaps due to this new open-minded approach to Christmas music, here's a few thoughts on the subject....
#1 – The holiday season does not begin until I hear Elvis Prestley’s “O’ Come, All Ye Faithful.” I don’t care how soon the local supermarket begins marketing stocking stuffers or how soon the neighbors string their homes/lawns with enough Christmas lights to rival Disney’s Epcot Center. If it’s December 24th and I’ve yet to hear The King, no big, jolly guy in a red suit can convince me Christmas is tomorrow night.
#2 – For most of my life, “The Christmas Song” (or “Chestnuts”), has held the top spot on my list of holiday favorites. Around Christmastime, my mother’s family would gather at my grandmother’s house. Before bedtime, we would sprawl around the piano in the great-room, huddle close with popcorn (for the kids) and cocktails (for the adults) while my grandmother played Christmas songs. Toward the end (after a few tonics), my great-grandmother—despite having lost her sight years ago—would give my grandmother’s fingers a rest by taking her place on the bench and playing by memory songs she once played on a Mississippi River steamboat. “Chestnuts” was always first on the set list and it never fails to remind me of those nights we stayed up late to hear Memaw and GG play.
#3 - The movie Home Alone was released the same year my sister was born—twenty-five years down the road, Brenda Lee’s “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” still brings to mind Kevin McCallister’s wide, troublemaking grin and instantly makes me want to strap on some elf shoes and boogie down.
#5 – I spent four years in my public school’s girls’ choral group. We crooned “Silent Night” during the holidays enough times to make me gag. The song now gives me warm fuzzies. In 1914, during the Christmas truce of World War I, it was sung simultaneously by German and English troops on both sides of the trenches. For me personally, maybe it's that touching image of mother and child. Those lyrics, too, the phrase “sleep in heavenly peace.” Several years ago, I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder. For a long time, I struggled with panic attacks on a daily basis. It’s easy to take for granted those moments that we feel completely at peace with life, with the world. My greatest wish during this period was simply to feel those little moments of peace again, those perfect intersections between heaven and earth.
I’m happy to report that I did slowly calm the storm inside my head. It didn’t come easily, and the idea of reawakening my daily anxiety and losing these hard-won, peaceful interludes haunts me every day. But if those months and months of panic taught me anything, it was to stop, breathe, and let these small snatches of serenity soak in.
|Fairhope, Alabama, March 2011|
|Ferris Wheel, May 2015|
|A sweet smooch on the Christmas Tree Farm, December 2015|
In many ways, it’s been a turbulent year worldwide. My greatest wish for you, readers, wherever you are this holiday season is plenty of peace and serenity for you and your loved ones! Peace on Earth and let's be jolly. Deck the halls and...if it's cold outside, it's probably a white Christmas so grab a blanket and some hot cocoa, stay inside and sing carols.
Just for fun—what’s your favorite holiday tune?