‘Tis the season for Christmas music. Actually some stations and stores started playing it weeks ago, but my family holds to a strict no Christmas until after Thanksgiving rule. It is actually pretty funny to see the self-righteous anger my son can work up about pre-December Christmas music. He’ll fume about one holiday at a time and how somewhere reindeer are dying.
In fact, in our Episcopal tradition asks that we wait until Christmas Eve to sing true Christmas carols. Up until then we are supposed to sing such popular Advent tunes as “O Come O Come Emmanuel” and “Come Though Long Expected Jesus.” Yeah, I hear those on the radio all the time during December.
Now the Episcopalians are not so strict they will send Grumpy cat after me or kill baby reindeer, but part of me sees the point in waiting for Christmas songs.
One reason is I don’t want to get so tired of hearing them that I won’t still tear up with emotion when I listen to Josh Groban sing “O Holy Night” on the 24th or keep Shawn Colvins’ rendition of “Love Came Down at Christmas” on repeat for half an hour on the 27th (I mean come on, you can sing it as a round, the fun just goes on and on!)
But more importantly, I’d like to keep some sense of waiting and anticipation going during Advent. I think there is some merit to the premise that the more you look forward to and prepare for something, the more meaningful it will be when it comes.
But it is hard. We’ve actually been listening to carols for weeks as my kids prepare for their Christmas piano concert (Ah, maybe that’s why my son didn’t want to practice over the break, he was just trying to save the baby reindeer) And my daughter has been walking around singing the songs her school chorus is preparing.
Last night we even got a sneak peek of the songs at our town’s Christmas tree lighting. And I’ve got to tell you, it was so much fun. The sang along with the old crooner carols they played over speakers as people gathered. We smiles as we listened to the kids singing their hearts out on their songs. And don’t get me started on the little kid choir that plated “Ave Maria” on color coded handbells. I could have died from the sweetness and joy.
I was on such a Christmas music high that I went out an bought my MIL a Christmas Crooners CD so she could enjoy all the old versions of the songs she loves so much.
So I find myself in a bit of a quandary. Do I let my inner grumpy cat that only listened to Advent carols in minor keys for the past few years fade away and embrace the joyful sounds of Christmas? Do I chalk it up to the good work of my new antidepressants and just let myself be happy?
Or do I try to delay gratification for a while and keep a bit of a quiet spirit? Not out of anger or protest, but as a way to make room for the silence that speaks louder than even joyful song?
I am not sure there is one right answer. In fact, the answer will probably be all of the above. Trying to keep the quiet most of the time while sneaking in some joyful sounds every once in a while.
Because we know what’s coming. And how good the news really is that the songs share. And something that joyful just tends to break through even the quiet sharing hope and light for all.
How do you weigh in on the great Christmas song debate? What do you like to listen to and when?