December 7, 2011
Christmas music. Nobody seems to be on the fence about it; people either become easily annoyed by it, or they canít get enough of it.
I am one included in the latter. From the time Thanksgiving comes around, if not slightly before, I have already pressed play numerous times on my ďChristmas TunesĒ playlist in my iTunes library. I canít help it. In almost every area of my life in general, music is the one thing that can completely change the way I feel and act, which may or may not be a disadvantage.
The music of Christmas amplifies this about my personality in a way that is unsurpassable. Itís just something about the way this set of songs, known by a vast number the people in the world, can bring us all together. Call me naÔve and overly-optimistic, but I believe that upon hearing these Christmas songs, most people in the world feel even the slightest ounce of holiday spirit.
Every Christmas season, when I hear the first sweet notes of Silent Night, and the first few exuberant beats of Sleigh Ride, I am instantly taken back to every Christmas of my life thus far. Each song holds a special place in my heart that I feel the need to share.
First, Iíd like to start with an upbeat jolly Christmas song, Sleigh Ride. The moment I hear the opening to this song, I remember my early childhood. During my elementary and middle school years, both of my sisters played in the high school wind ensemble, and they both played clarinet. Because of that, I am instantly reminded that each holiday season, my family and I would get dressed up and attend the band concert to hear my sisters play. I remember being filled with excitement and joy, sitting in that auditorium listening to Sleigh Ride being performed and day-dreaming of my childlike version of Santa Claus, Christmas parties at school and spending time at home with my family. And to this day, I canít help but think of my sisters playing this song and be reminded of family time during the Christmas season.
Another iconic Christmas song filled with meaning is Joy to the World. As frequently, and sometimes overdone it may seem, this song is popular for a reason. With a jubilant balance of short staccato notes and beautifully magnificent chords, Joy to the World is indeed joyous. Every time I hear this song, I think of yet another band-related memory, participating in the Downtown Fredericksburg parade in Virginia every year, watching the smiles and excitement appear on each face I passed by.
Silent Night is just another of many songs, that can change my mood and spirit completely. I am aware that, as iconic as it is, Silent Night surely has meaning for most everyone. However, to me, it feels so special. Hearing Silent Night, I am reminded of all the Christmas Eve services I have attended. As a music pastorís kid growing up, the Christmas Eve services meant different things to us. Instead of all getting dressed and ready together, and all piling in the same car at the same time, our family was sporadic.
My dad usually had to be at the church by early afternoon preparing for the multiple services, and would be there until 11 or so that night. While he was gone, my sisters and I were usually doing last minute shopping/wrapping, my mom would be getting things in order for the next day, including taking my dad dinner at the church. For our family, we didnít have quite the same experience as most families. And while it may seem disappointing to not be together at first, we had other things special to us.
Every time I hear Silent Night, I remember how it always felt at the service, standing with my family, holding a beautifully lit candle, singing the words to such a heartfelt and beautiful song and being reminded of how special the gift we all received was that night so many years ago; the incredible miraculous birth of my Savior who would one day pay for our horrible sins. I am reminded of the feeling of unity and togetherness, as well as the happiness of taking a moment to reflect and be thankful.
Every year, no matter how late it was when we finally left the church, our family would take one car, and drive around to see Christmas lights. Although I have to admit sometimes I wasnít so excited about it, I am thankful that my parents insisted. Having grown up a bit since then, I realize now that they knew it would mean something to my sisters and I, and I am beyond thankful for that. It may seem like a lot of memories and thoughts to get from one Christmas song, but itís true, Silent Night does it for me.
The last of my truly favorite Christmas songs is ďIíll Be Home for Christmas,Ē which is a new favorite. Before coming to college, , this song didnít mean much to me. But as these last three years have past, the words of this song have become near and dear to my heart. Growing up has been a whirlwind. With all the ups and downs Iíve experienced in the past three years, including the deaths of a few very important people and the pains of learning from mistakes after Iíd made them, there have always been two constant things: the love of Christ and the love of my family.
Throughout my life, I have always been reminded that no matter what I do, the doors of my home are always open. And over the past few years, I have begun to realize how special that is. Knowing that no matter how hard life gets, my family has my back, is unbelievably comforting. The words to ďIíll Be Home for ChristmasĒ are a beautiful reminder of the importance of family and loved ones. And know, as I am nearing the end of my last fall semester in college, this song is on repeat, constantly reminding me that soon this stress will be done, even for just a few weeks, and I will be home. And although this year is different, as a few in the past have been, with my family spread throughout the world, I am still thankful.
While some of you may not view Christmas songs quite the same way I do, I hope that you can still be reminded that there is a reason these songs are played so often; they can remind us of whatís important in life, our loved ones and the birth of our Savior.