I’ve had a thoroughly delightful Christmas season including three performances of the Messiah, lots of lights, Festival of Trees, and the Christmas Carol last night. Tonight I will be singing in our semi-annual recital for my voice lessons. I usually do a traditional Christian carol but decided to switch it up this year with ‘I’ll Be Home for Christmas’ because I felt it was ironic for 2 reasons-
1. I’m not going home for Christmas and at the end it says ‘if only in my dreams’ (like many of the songs from the 40’s and 50’s there is a hint of melancholy in the depth of what is otherwise a cheerful song. ie Somewhere Over the Rainbow “If happy little blue birds fly beyond the rainbow why, oh why can’t I?”).
2. I will be getting a new home, my first home, right after Christmas so the song works on that level as well.
Here it is. As I’ve said before I’m no American Idol winner but I was happy with it. The video isn’t great because I forgot my camera so I just had my phone, but I hope you all enjoy!
Anyway, as I’ve been preparing I have noticed a troubling trend- almost none of the stores or restaurants I have frequented this season have been playing Christmas music. I’m not just talking about the ‘O Holy Night’ Christian variety. They aren’t even playing the Santa, Rudolph variety. I have never noticed this before and it makes me very sad.
For hundreds of years singing has been an integral part of the Christmas experience. According to my old friend Wikipedia the first carols were sung in 1426 by “groups of ‘wassailers‘, who went from house to house”. Then in the 1700’s Protestant churches wrote many of the popular carols we know today such ‘O Come All Ye Faithful’, ‘I Saw 3 Ships’ and ‘Hark the Herald Angels Sing’.
Think about what this means- that for 500+ years western civilization has sung the carols at Christmas as part of our tradition and now it is not heard much (and this was not just an isolated incident Walmart, Postnet, Kohls, Scheels, Zupas, Wells Fargo, Dollar Tree…I could go on. None had Christmas music playing). That is a radical shift! Not even Republics have been around that long!
And why? Because everyone is so afraid of offending a tiny minority of extremists who will make a fuss. I realize that non-Christians are not a tiny minority but most of them participate in the cultural traditions of Christmas and ignore the religious connotations. Most Jewish, Atheist, or agnostics that I have met still put up a Christmas tree and sing the Christmas songs without any problem at all. It’s part of our community, our traditions, as Hanukkah and Ramadan are starting to become.
But again they are not turning off Christmas music because of these good people celebrating other traditions, they are doing it out of fear of the one squeaky voice who makes a scene. Well, maybe I can be that squeaky voice. I love Christmas music. It’s positive, hopeful, peaceful, happy, and as a Christian I miss having one season of the year where I could hear uplifting music wherever I went. Is that so wrong?
If it was good enough for civilization for 500+ years surely it is still needed today? I do believe the further our nation gets away from God and Jesus Christ, the further we move from freedom. However, I also recognize that not everyone shares this view. Why can’t we find a common ground of traditions and community bonding in shared space? Why do we seem to only listen to one side of this argument? It’s like a separation of church and state (not in the constitution btw) has come to mean a separation between all culture, business, community, and church; and I don’t think that’s what the founding father’s had in mind.
Here’s my plea to businesses out there- Please play Christmas music! Especially after the events of last Friday we could all use a little peace on earth, good will towards men. A little joy and fa,la,la,la, la never hurt anyone. The number of people who will be uplifted by it will far outweigh the complainers.
You are a business you do not have to restrain yourself like government. Be bold! Play some White Christmas, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, Frosty, whatever (sad that such songs are considered bold. Sigh…). It may seem like a small thing but I believe these types of shared experiences and cultural routines have value and help us to relate to one another; otherwise, our spheres of common experience become more and more scattered each day and it should be no surprise that we are increasingly polarized with each passing year.
To Christmas carols! Now on to my recital. Wish me luck!