January 2, 2019 (First published Jan, 2016)
Amazon Prime Music has some interesting playlists.
While I was doing a humdrum* project today (cleaning out bathtub caulk in preparation for resealing), I happened on a playlist entitled “Underrated Christmas Songs”. The songs were at least unusual. Some were overrated, in my opinion.
The bonus is I discovered a singer new to me – Aimee Mann. The first song on her album arrested my attention.
Whatever happened to Christmas?
Its gone and left no traces
Whatever happened to the faces or the glow?
Whatever happened to Christmas, to Christmas way of living?
Can you see why this connects to the 12 Days of Christmas theme I’ve been developing these last – let’s see – eight days? It’s a bonus that I like the singer and plan to hear more of her music. (If your browser won’t show the video below, go here.)
“Whatever Happened to Christmas?”
Many of us ask that question in the context of “How did the holiday come and go so fast?” (Well, it’s because we were at breakneck speed the four weeks leading up to the First Day of Christmas.)
Aimee’s question goes much deeper. I don’t know her spiritual state, but she’s expressing a longing for the eternal. Well, and at the end, a longing for her lover. I think. Or someone she hoped would be.
Unless I’m way out of touch, many of you ask that question too. Whatever happened to Christmas-the-way-it-used-to-be? Thus, the ubiquity of Victorian-style art and decorations. Thus the new popularity of bubble lights.
Thus the cozy viewing of old movies and the expressed desire for snow to make it really really complete. And, the ultimate – that we experience that “Christmasy feeling”. I cringe to think in the past the word “Christmasy” has passed my own lips.
What. Does. It. Mean?
More than these examples, we long for reality. We long for depth. We long for the eternal – the transcendent. The central event and Person of Christmas – the Incarnation of the Son of Man – is the rich fulfillment of these longings. The phrase in the song – “Christmas way of living” – deeply connects in that regard.
What is the “Christmas way of living”?
It is life-surrender to the Messiah.
But most people glide right over that and head on out to the trivial, sentimental, party-on, commerce-driven, way-too-many gifts, three-months-of-hype-then-it’s-over, ultimately unsatifsying way of celebration.
This slowed-down way of observing the Christmas season (following the observation of the four weeks of Advent) is bringing much joy and rest.
I hope you consider entering the waters with me next year. Prepare for a scenic river float, not a crashing, splashing whitewater rush.
If not, then remember there are only 355 Shopping Days ’til Christmas
If you want to know more how the liturgical Church observes the Ninth Day of Christmas, you can read it here. By the way, the suggested meanings of the 12 verses of the annoying song, from many sources I have reviewed, are probably legendary and not real. But it’s not a bad thing to consider the nine-fold fruit of the Spirit on this, the Ninth Day of Christmas.
You could do so much worse.
The short explanation of the Ninth Day is this: It honors St Basil the Great and St Gregory Nazianzen, who were two important 4th century Christians. You just may have heard of them.
PS: On the “Underrated Christmas Songs” playlist, I could go for this one.
* Just so you know, the job turned out not to be so humdrum. I relaxed, was fine with the extended time it was taking, and willing to go slow and do it well. I believe this was helped by my new focus on the 12 Days of Christmas. This season doesn’t have to scramble to a giant peak and drop off the cliff the very next day, with the vague letdown feelings that often show up. We are in the Ninth Day of Christmas – the day the Messiah reached His ninth day of life, still fresh and new.
This is the ninth in a series of 12 consecutive articles on the 12 Days of Christmas. Here are links to the rest of the series:
The 12 Days Have Begun!: First Day of Christmas
What Did You Get for Christmas?: Second Day of Christmas
Most People Missed the Good News: Third Day of Christmas
An Event, But So Much More: Fourth Day of Christmas
Are You Still Playing Carols?: Fifth Day of Christmas
Slow It Down: Sixth Day of Christmas
Silvesterpunsch: Seventh Day of Christmas
Let It Snow (Or Not): Eighth Day of Christmas
We Long for Transcendence, but Look in the Wrong Places: Tenth Day of Christmas
So Done with the Holiday: Eleventh Day of Christmas
Those Who Are Wise Still Seek Him: Twelve Day of Christmas