This is the third post in the “I Love That Line!” series that features writers’ reflections on their favorite Christmas carols. Here I reflect on a line from “The Christmas Waltz.”
Christmas is a season of slowing. In spiritual formation, slowing is the habit of literally slowing ourselves down and resisting haste (Selah). I’m happy that Christmas, specifically, is that rest, like a musical interval, the world uses to breathe and regroup. Holidays of national identity and other observances just aren’t capable of offering the repose we desperately seek.
Instead, it is themes of thankfulness, giving, and spiritual reflection that best express who we are as humans and how we are supposed to function in an essential way. The Christmas season, more than any, helps us rediscover ourselves. I consider it a remarkable work of God and human custom, so good for the soul.
The Christmas Complex
It is why I especially love a line from “The Christmas Waltz”:
“It’s that time of year when the world falls in love,
Every song you hear seems to say
‘Merry Christmas! May your New Year dreams come true.’”
And no one sings it better than Frank Sinatra, for whom it was written. His robust yet silky-smooth voice seems to slice through the apathy and rigor of a year almost done, holding forth something in our faces almost too wonderful to behold, maybe even an invitation—This is what you’ve been seeking.
Why we fall in love with this time of year is something I don’t fully comprehend. It’s so nuanced…and I like it that way. Of course, hardliners will preach, “Jesus is everything about Christmas!” Obviously, the birth story is central to it all. Jesus’s advent is significant for Christians and the unreligious who identify with Christianity. Yet those who understand the role of lore in human culture appreciate the narrative, also.
Simply put, with or without a religious attachment to the season, we still find ways to participate in its wonder.
Christmas transports many of us back to our childhood and the days before we lost our innocence to a life of making a life and the woes that attend it. For others of us, Christmas is a celebration of family and the only time we ever see our families. And who doesn’t love gift-giving, surprises, and festivity with loved-ones?
Christmas is cheerful because we make decisions to set aside grievances, forgive, and show grace (think Snoopy and the Red Baron). Some go even further and find in the season a perfect opportunity for acts of service and humanity to others.
Wonder in a Tune
If there is one expression inclusive of all these significations and the many more we don’t see, it is surely Christmas music—“Every song you hear seems to say, ‘Merry Christmas! May your New Year dreams come true.’”—isn’t that so true?
Christmas music, I think, is one of the quickest ways to get in the Christmas spirit. It gladdens me up instantly, and I think it does the same for many of us. The implication resounds: we seem to derive our greatest joy from motifs of fellowship, love, giving, faith, and family. Undoubtedly, these humanize us and enliven cold hearts that have often calcified with indifference and distress throughout the year.
You see, Christmas may be a single day on the calendar, but the spirit of Christmas can and should be a yearlong reality. “Oh, that we could always see such spirit through the year.” Well that’s a personal choice, and it should wait no longer.
A Christmas done right adequately prepares us for a new year. Our focus has hopefully fixated on substantive things. And for all the rest we’ve desired and forsaken and loved yet lost earlier in the year, we can now set real goals, not mere resolutions, and hopefully fill the new year with more Christmas as we attain them.