The holidays aren’t what they used to be. For some, that leaves us awash with nostalgia for the magic of Christmas past, the guarantee of checking all the season’s traditions off the list, and peaceful time with loved ones. For others, maybe Christmas past never involved such things, and Christmas present is actually preferable––free in one way or another from the former sources of stress and conflict––though even that is bittersweet. And finally, for many it’s likely some combination of all this: a truly complex, mixed-emotion sort of occasion. The most wonderful and the most difficult time of year all at once.
As I look around approaching the holidays this year I’m hard pressed to find anyone, anywhere who is not wearied by the general holiday complexities and the state of our society at large. It has been a difficult year to say the least, and we’re feeling it. Yet even amid all the weariness, we can find things to celebrate. For me though, it’s been confusing when many of my past reasons to rejoice have become the sources of great present grief. Furthermore, in 2017 it’s clear––as I sing in, “I Heard the Bells”––that “hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth and goodwill to [wo]men.” If it is also to be true that “the wrong shall fail and the right prevail” we have much work to do ahead of us…daunting as it may be to us, this weary world.
I needed to spend time with these songs in preparation for Christmas. I needed to immerse myself in the melodies, the words, the memories, the current events, and make something out of it all. Making this record was a fairly spontaneous process, and what you hear is the product of 2 obsessive weeks of work that I could carve out for this sort of reflection. This is no statement of belief…I wouldn’t know how to make one of those right now. It’s a sitting with the questions…wondering if old stories can take on new nuance and come to life again somehow. I’m not sure this is even a project about hope…but more a brief document of sitting with the struggle of being a human in the world right now. However, if Brene Brown is right, and “hope is a function of struggle,” then I suppose we’re all due a dose of hope soon enough in the days ahead.
On the chance any of you might be looking for a similar sort of meditation right now, I’ve decided to share these songs. Wherever this finds you, I do wish that it might bring some small measure of comfort and solidarity, even joy and peace, to you in this holiday season. May we the weary world, even for just a few moments, rejoice together.
Happy holidays to you and yours.