I got a kick out of Quinn Caldwell talking on Darkwood Brew this week about people who don’t sing in church, until the Christmas carols start.
I’m the jackwagon in the cubicle farm at work who dares to blare her jolly Christmas music before Thanksgiving. If I’m keeping it real, it’s probably best to note that I have to try super hard to not play it right after Halloween, quite frankly. It’s just I love the jingle and jolly of the songs. I love to share it with my kids. We discuss our favorite picks, and our favorite versions. For example, they both like Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer. However, Max prefers the classic Burl Ives version. While Lucy prefers the Jack Johnson version.
Maybe it has something to do with my repressed childhood memories. I don’t know. But Christmas songs are synonymous in my brain with just about the only fun and happy times at my home when I was a kid. My fondest memories of my usually bitter parents were when we sang along to the Christmas carols. We’d even catch my grumpy non-church-attending dad tapping the steering wheel and mouthing the words. He insisted he wasn’t actually singing. If we caught him mouthing the words and made a big deal of it, he’d quit
singing mouthing. We learned to not fuss over it and just enjoy the moment. For one month out of the year, my broken family fa-la-la-la-la ed all over town singing about joy and merriment and Jesus.
Oh sure, there was all that secular crazy what with Santa and reindeer bullying and egg nog and all that whimsy fun nonsense. I will never forget the day, my dad (think Walter Mattheau meets JR Ewing) heard a song come on the radio, turned it up and said, “You gotta hear this one, it’s great!” Grandma Got Runover By A Reindeer blared as I stared in awe that my dad thought that was funny.
On Christmas Eve, I’d go with my friend Becky and her family to the Candlelight Midnight Service at our church. Every year I looked forward to Judy Edmonson singing O Holy Night by candlelight. It might have been the most beautiful sound and sight I’ve ever been a part of. I wish just once I could have shared that with my parents. But then again, maybe asking them to get along, come to church, and involving fire was too much to ask.
I’m all grown up now with a family of my own. We get along and seem to like each other all 12 months out of the year. We have our own song. We go to church year round (mostly) and we pretty much all sing at church (I make sure my kids sing. I’m not sure my husband, Chris is committing to singing. Peripherally it seems he’s not joining in on the vocal fun. Maybe Dr. Elnes can give him the stink eye next time we sing in church…) I smile immediately with fond memories when I hear Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer. But then it makes me cringe a little bit, so my kids don’t know that one too well. We’ve carried on the tradition of Christmas tunes fa-la-la-ing all over the place: in the car, on our ipods, in the kitchen, and with cds.
We carry on our tradition of making music mixes of our ever-growing Christmas music with our friends, co-workers and teachers. More fun than wrapping presents together, we have a blast selecting tunes personal to the recipients and sharing the sing-a-longs.
It’s all because of that bitter broken family, and that one month out of the year when we sang along together. With sincere joy and smiles on our faces.
Christmas and holiday music has the same underlying theme – we’re all broken. It’s just a time to set aside our differences, our brokenness, our mistakes, and come together…joyfully. The songs we sing, although we sing them in unison, mean something special to each of us. And that’s what makes Christmas songs so special – even when blaring from a cubicle.
Leslie is a blogger for Darkwood Brew. She’s had her own blog for 8 years – momontherocks.com, chronicling the crazy moments of mommyhood. She also has a column in HerLiving, a local Omaha Magazine. When she’s not writing, she’s laughing and/or eating with her very tall family: husband, Chris, and twins, Max and Lucy.