I've heard quite a few people saying it just doesn't feel like Christmas. There's no motivation or time. Little joy or anticipation... "Christmas" is just another day this year. I was stubbornly refusing to admit it, but I felt the same. I was going about my daily routine, trying to make myself feel more, "in the Christmas spirit." It just wasn't really happening.
Music has always played a huge role in my Christmas. As a girl, we'd listen to Christmas albums on the record player, or on cassette in our minivan. Middle school through my senior year I played trumpet, and memorized all my favorite Christmas songs. For years, I played Christmas CD's starting in the fall as a backdrop for making homemade Christmas cards. This year, the same music I usually enjoyed just wasn't making me feel much different... why? Then in the beginning of December, my sister-in-law and I went on a Christmas tour of churches. It's a candlelit, evening event in downtown Lancaster. It was also my second time going, so I was expecting a beautiful evening... there was even a little snow. If anything would boost my spirits, it'd be this. We walked together on the slippery sidewalks, arm in arm, marveling at homes lit up for the holidays. Every church and it's music was different. Some felt very solemn and others very cheerful. We enjoyed it all, really. It's a tradition that I hope continues in this community and in our family for a very long time. In one of the churches, there was a folk/bluegrass group that played a cheerful song I hadn't heard for years. I didn't know who sang it, or exactly where I'd heard it... but knew it nearly by heart. It made an impression on me, and I felt uplifted. We went to other churches, and heard many more songs. The next day, I told my mom there was a song played that was familiar, but by then couldn't remember the name. So, everything got busy. That song was forgotten... but only until I began humming it while washing dishes. "Christmas time's a comin'!" One of those songs played on our record player more than 25 years ago. My mom said we'd listened to Emmylou Harris' version. I pulled up the song on YouTube... and there was a playlist. Childhood memories flooded in. It felt so different than when I'd heard the usual songs on the radio. These songs meant more to me. I couldn't listen to this music without hearing a crackle and occasional skip of the record (my brother and I... sometimes my dad... wound up dancing or doing somersaults). Memories so far away, yet still so real. Tears of joy welled up... my heart was changed, and then: "It just doesn't feel like Christmas at all this year, I'm sorry." Through the years, I haven't done a whole lot of baking. One reason being, our neighbor lady has always given us a tray loaded with cookies and fudge. This week, she called and said she didn't get around to baking, what with her and her husband's health issues. Today the kids and I will be baking Christmas cookies... probably while listening to Emmylou Harris' Christmas songs (they love them too, by the way). Of course, today I hope we make happy memories, and maybe even start a tradition. Really though, I hope we help one or two more hearts "feel like Christmas." Merry Christmas to you and yours!