This is a “rerun” from last year; some events of the last month have convinced me to share it anew:
We’re just a couple weeks from the Winter Solstice, the shortest darkest day of the year. A contrast to the holiday season, it can exacerbate hidden internal sadness in those around us.
I love Christmas music. But not all of it at the same level of love. I prefer minor keys, obscure pieces, and bleak moods that reflect peace and/or sadness. “God Rest Ye Merry” is a good one, as is “‘Twas in the Moon of Wintertime.” There’s a lot of good stuff in the French, Celtic, and British choir traditions traditions that are haunting.
Two favorite Christmas music albums are “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and “If on a Winter’s Night…” The latter comes from Sting, who hits on a major theme of this time of year in the liner notes:
…I have an ambivalent attitude towards the celebration of Christmas. For many, it is a period of intense loneliness and alienation… Winter is a time of darkness and introspection… [and] the gravitational pull of home that Christmas exerts on the traveller.
Walking amid the snows of Winter, or sitting entranced in a darkened room gazing at the firelight, usually evokes in me a mood of reflection, a mood that can be at times philosophical, at other wildly irrational; I find myself haunted by memories.
This can be a joyful and jolly time of year; so many lights and happy music and gatherings. But many folks are like Sting; haunted by memories of sadness exacerbated by the short dark days and the contrast with the flaunting of joy.
Enjoy the season – the lights, music, gatherings, festivities – but please stay sensitive. And allow yourself to feel the melancholy, too. That can add to the beauty.
Happy New Year.