In opposition to the Christmas dirge

I’ve given up railing against the Christmas music overdose. I’ve lost that battle: they will start the holiday music at Halloween and they will switch to constant carols at Thanksgiving, and some of us will be all caroled out 2 weeks before the holiday arrives.

Fine. Whatever. I’m not going to change that and what’s more it’s bothered me less this year so let’s move past that, eh?

How about this, though? In order to fill the gap of all that holiday-fixated airtime, there are more holiday and seasonal songs all the time. New creations, remakes, and so on.

And that’s good. New generations, new artists.

I won’t fuss, just for the moment, about the grating songs, the greedy songs, the gruesome songs…

But seriously, could we at least try to match the song with the sentiment it’s meant to convey?

I’m not saying there’s only one emotion that’s acceptable at this season. There are as many emotions as there are people experiencing the holiday. Joyful excitement, giddy happiness, holy wonder, loneliness and longing and heartbreak and everything in between. There’s room for all of the range…

But a song like I’ll Be Home for Christmas that captures the longing for home and loved ones – one remembers our military families, separated in service to our nation and communities – simply shouldn’t be too bubbly, if it’s going to capture its own sensibility.

I’m irked by versions of The Little Drummer Boy that don’t capture the sentiment of the song… the essential humility bound up in coming – as we all do – essentially empty handed and unworthy before the King of Kings, the quiet wonder and pleasure in finding that our simple and humble desire to honor Him is found acceptable to Him. The song loses something when you strip that away.

And Holly Jolly Christmas should sound jolly. Walking in a Winter Wonderland shouldn’t sound like a funeral march.

Yes, there’s heartache and depression for many in this season. It has its place. There’s room for songs that acknowledge that. But a carol – a song of joy – has a different sensibility.

And there’s no need for a song about sleigh riding to sound like the passengers are tying nooses as they go along.

A song of joy can be serious and even somber (Silent Night anyone?) but a song of joy like Hark the Herald Angels Sing shouldn’t sound like a dirge.

Dear artists reinventing holiday music for today: I want to hear your unique take and talent. Just please pause to consider the sensibility and the sentiment you’re sharing. It won’t have staying power, when there’s such a mismatch that it doesn’t ring true.

1 thought on “In opposition to the Christmas dirge”

  1. Ever hear “Christmas Bells”? The one with these cheery lyrics:

    And in despair I bowed my head;
    “There is no peace on earth,” I said;
    “For hate is strong,
    And mocks the song
    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

    I’d love to see The Chipmunks do a version of that carol, just to lighten things up a little. I mean, if you weren’t suicidal already when the holidays began, you very well might be after listening to that little ditty.


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