It really is amazing when you think of it how much energy goes into Christmas in America. The decorations, the concerts, the symbolism, the MUSIC. We are surrounded by it, whether we are practicing Christians or not. No other holiday comes close, and we have a lot of them. Why is this celebration so big? Is it just the commercialism? That’s part of it, surely. I think, though, that the energy behind and underneath Christmas would make anyone want to celebrate something, and celebration is always, ALWAYS accompanied by music and singing.
I am “generically spiritual” in that I believe in something larger being underneath and through everything, and in everyone. I have a problem with the rules and regulations of religious dogma of any kind and I have a really big problem with any negative precepts that are cloaked in righteousness under the name of “God”.
Christmas represents the birth of the man called Jesus. It ought to remind us of ideas in his teachings like peace on earth and good will to men/people, but if you have ever stood on a long slow line of grumpy customers in a crowded department store a couple of days before the holiday, being waited on by exhausted underpaid sales clerks, you may not much encounter those bright feelings, in your own heart or in the hearts of those you see. It takes an act of will to be full of peace on earth in those circumstances, but isn’t that the point?
What good are any kind of teachings if one does not try to live them on an hour to hour, day to day basis? What good are any kind of teachings if they do not guide you to be more accepting, more tolerant, more compassionate? Why would anyone want to participate in anything that pushes you to close up, pass judgement, and regard your fellow beings (both two and four footed, as well as those with no limbs at all) as being “lesser” in any way? Why would anyone want to make the world colder, nastier, and more hostile, when that is the easy way? It is much harder to look at the world with a positive attitude without being foolishly sappy or blind.
Praise of life, praise of all of what life contains — good and bad, ups and downs, suffering and joy — is wrapped up in the bundle that we call Christmas. The child in each of us is born out of the darkness (in the northern hemisphere) or prepares to enter the darkness (in the southern hemisphere) to begin again, with the innocence of a babe, to engage life in its most basic way. The mundane, simple repetitive tasks that we all do every day are the keys to the kingdom. Finding that, and rejoicing in the depth and simplicity of it, the heart bursts with hope and with satisfaction. Surely, this is the message, that each of us is free to find within that which saves us from the pain of life itself. This discovery, which is utterly miraculous, can only burst forth in ecstasy…..in lights, color, and generosity of all kinds and in the most universal expression of all — the sound of the human voice making music.
So, it makes sense to decorate the outside (trees) and the inside (fireplaces) and to share our abundance, joy and commonality and what better way to do that than to sing carols with others, or to attend a concert of music that is familiar and has been heard by millions for many years? What better thing is there for us as singers to do than sing? The holiday itself, representing the birth of Jesus, but also representing the mystical reason for a Jesus (and all the other great spiritual teachers) to live here amongst us, is worth celebrating. The reminder is that the teachings attributed to Jesus admonish us to “love one another” and “treat others as you would be treated”. What better lesson can his life teach us? What better experience can each of us come to comprehend?