Tag Archives: Christmas

The Christmas Hit Parade

So like most people, my favorite Christmas carol is Little Drummer Boy. (Go ahead, ask your friends; it’s usually a tie between that and O Come All Ye Faithful, with a small but steadfast minority holding out for Joy to the World.)

I’ve become a big fan of Lindsey Stirling’s Little Drummer Boy but I love Bob Seger’s sweet rock version now and for all time.

You can also reduce me to rubble by getting a boy’s choir to sing Once in Royal David’s City. They hit that line “Jesus is our childhood pattern” and people in the next pew hand me tissues.

Still, we all have carols that aren’t our favorites but have lines or verses that stick out to us, y’know?

We Three Kings isn’t my favorite carol. In fact, as a child, its somber tone and minor chords used to scare me, along with In the Bleak Midwinter. I remember shrinking behind my mother in a church pew until she hauled me out from behind her with a “what on earth” look. The one just before you get taken out to the bathroom and corrected, so I quit. But those songs were just outright creepy as a kid.

Now, my favorite verse from a carol overall is in Kings. It might be verse three depending on your source, and it says Glorious now behold him arise, King and God and Sacrifice.

As children we have no idea how our lives are going to shape and form, but now as a trained folklorist I recognize in this line the echoes of Christianity co-opting and overcoming some very old gods with a small g. The Celtic bog bodies, the Easter deity sacrifices, all the echoes that Ecclesiastes 3:11 told us were there. (That’s the verse that says God put eternity in our hearts so someday like would call to like, in a paraphrased version.)

Christians can get really pissy about how symbolism is borrowed from pre-Christian belief, as if this were a bad thing, and pagans can get right pissy back about the moral high ground tone on the co-opting. But I admit this back-and-forth of old, new, and repurposed has always been one of the things I love about studying Christian theology: the power of the sacrifice the strength of the removal of sacrifices, the whole FULFILLMENT of a system, not its dismantling. The legend that when Jesus was born a yew tree cracked and a voice yelled down from the mountain, “The Great God Pan is dead” gave me chills. (He died in a battle; you can look up what GK Chesterton wrote about this if you’re interested.)

The joy of renewals, celebrating seasons, seeing patterns, enjoying the turning circle that turns through eternity: we were supposed to be eternally enjoying these things, and when that got messed up, a very ugly fulfillment was set in place to put us back in the circle. Christian Easter is a terrible, bloody holiday with a highly significant and glorious plot twist.

I think that is the coolest thing ever. Not many pagans and Christians want to dance together at Solstice, at Christmas, when the Day Star turns in our hearts as it does in the sky (that’s 2 Peter 1:19 plus a whole lot of pagan poetry) and the days get longer and we know resurrection takes many forms. Glorious now behold him arise, king and God and sacrifice, hallelujah, hallelujah, worship him God most high.

What’s your favorite carol this time of year?

2 Comments

Filed under Life reflections, small town USA, Wendy Welch

A Shopsitter’s Christmas

IMG_20141224_135232

Henry

As I’m spending Christmas in a bookstore this year, I thought I might share a few of my favorite Christmas tales with all of you. What’s more festive that curling up in front of a roaring Fireplace for your Home, popping open a box of wine, and diving in to a jolly holiday classic? Nothing as far as I know. While there are dozens, I’ve selected a few that have special meaning for me. Here goes.

The Cat Who Came for Christmas, by Cleveland Amory. My grandmother introduced me to this wonderful memoir many years ago. A self-described curmudgeon finds an abandoned cat on Christmas eve. Heartwarming human/feline bonding ensues. Especially poignant for me this year, because I’ve found my very own Christmas kitty. See photo.

A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens. The quintessential Christmas classic. A story of faith, forgiveness, and redemption. All the biggies. Ebenezer Scrooge mends his evil ways with the help of three Christmas spirits. Little ghoul that I am, I probably liked this story most because of the ghosties.

Hercule Poirot’s Christmas, by Agatha Christie. For those that might enjoy a little murder with their mistletoe. The eccentric Belgium detective finds himself spending Christmas at a country estate, where one of the guest proves to be a cold blooded killer. It’s festive. Honest. 

The Christmas Day Kitten, by James Herriot. Another kitty arriving just in time for the holidays. I have a vague, but persistent notion that this one made me cry. You’ve been warned.

The Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming: A Christmas Story, by Lemony Snicket. While my own Jewish heritage provided me little more than the ability to kvetch in Yiddish, I do love a good latke. This story is about a potato latke that, well, can’t stop screaming, but it’s also about being true to yourself and your beliefs. A good message for whatever holiday you celebrate.

Not a comprehensive list, but a fun exercise nonetheless. I must now go finish putting coal in the kitten’s stockings. They’ve been naughty, as all proper kittens are wont to be.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1 Comment

Filed under reading, shopsitting