Hymns for Humbuggery
Not just a regular run of the mill Humbug. I mean a big fat, dyed in the wool, born and bred, bonafide, deeply convicted and profoundly committed....Humbug. I dislike Christmas. I know, you Christmas freaks; the ones who put your decorations up before the turkey carcass has even cooled, are gasping in shock and horror. How does this happen, you wonder. How can anybody not like Christmas??
To be fair, I do like Christmas itself. It's the lead in I'm not terribly fond of.
It's a lot of pressure for a Mom. No disrespect to the Dads, but really and truly, the burden of creating Christmas magic usually rests squarely on the shoulders of we women. And there's a LOT that goes into such a feat; baking, decorating, shopping, wrapping; and all that on top of the regular responsibilities of life. Then there are the crowds; never my favorite thing, but even less so this time of year, the greed, the commercialism, it's just all gotten so out of control. I find it throughly disheartening and completely exhausting.
I think the real meaning of Christmas has been lost.
Now before you click your window closed, assuming this is another "Keep the Christ in Christmas" tirade, let me assure you, it's not.
If you're new here, aside from being a Humbug, I'm also an Atheist. Oh yes. I'm a wet blanket of many facets.
So I'm not talking about Jesus. Because whether Christians want to admit it or not, Christmas as we know and celebrate it today is a secular holiday. And frankly, those folks who holler and complain about the reason for the season are big fat hypocrites.
I know, that's a strong word. And I don't mean it unkindly really. I don't think they even realize. But they're putting up trees and wrapping gifts and perpetuating the myth of Santa Clause with all the trimmings; reindeer, elves, magic sleigh and the obiquitous naughty list, (without which, along with the ever present threat of nothing but coal in commodious stockings, those two weeks of school holiday would be simply impossible for any Mom to endure), just like the rest of us heathens.
Because they want us to remember, it's not about all that stuff! It's about the birth of a saviour! The salvation of mankind! Peace on Earth!!
So that irritates me. It comes up every freaking year and I'm just sick to death of it. But that's another post for another day.
Let me just say....Peace on Earth I can get behind.
Yes. Peace. Harmony. Fellowship. Family. That's what it's about.
Not shopping and toys and gluttony and presents and throat punching your fellow man to get the last Baby Wetsalot.
I just hate it all.
Now all that said, there are a few things that can stir my soul and kindle a tiny spark of Christmas spirit amid all the commercialism and chaos.
The sight of my tree, when it's the only source of light in the room. My kids sighing with pleasure at it. The warmth of a crackling fire and the cat playing among the discarded boxes and bows and paper. Pajamas all day, Jimmy Stewart on the t.v. and doing not exactly nothing, but not a whole lot of anything. A look that passes between my husband and me; one of shared satisfaction, of knowing that once again, we achieved the impossible and gave our kids a Christmas to remember.
And then....there are the Christmas Hymns. They invariable raise goosebumps on my arms and a lump in my throat.
I know, I know. They irony is not lost on me folks.
Many of you have taken the opportunity in years past to point out that since Christmas Hymns move me, that proves that there is a tiny morsel of spirituality that wants to blossom and grow into a real live Christian! But I don't really think so. There have been plenty of opportunities for that to happen over the years. It never has.
The fact is, I just like those songs.
It's really not about content for me. It's about the sheer beauty of the music, the emotion in a quavering note. But most of all, it's about the memories those songs evoke.
I grew up in a Christian household. We went to church faithfully and of course, we attended Christmas Eve service. Despite many of the unpleasant memories from my churchgoing past, those memories are never anything but fond. Even now, thirty years later, I can smell the pine in the church sanctuary, feel the chill of winter air as it swirled in on the coattails of parishoners and the warmth of my sisters' arms pressed against me in the pew.
Most clearly of all, I remember the sight of my parents standing at the pulpit, singing. Always arm in arm, my Mom slightly taller than my Dad in her heels, my Dad's tie typically tied too short. Their faces were uplifted, my mother's throat a pale column, my Dad's Adam's apple bobbing above his collar. My Mother's mouth was a wine painted O, my Dad's a mustachioed oval. Their harmony was flawless, their pitch perfect. There are many things I didn't know about those days, but in that moment, they sang as one. They were...one.
That is why Christmas Hymns move me. They take me back to a time that was safe and happy and free of the stress that comes with being an adult and having my own family. A time when I was unaware of anything under the surface, and knew only that our family was strong and solid and at peace. The bliss of childhood ignorance is unlike anything else.
This is one Hymn that never fails to give me goosebumps. They sang it a time or two along with many others. But this one sticks with me for some reason. It's one of the most beautiful, I think. I hope you enjoy it.
Whatever you believe and whomever you choose to place your faith in, we're all in this together. Peace to you and yours this Holiday Season.