• 73°

Are Santa’s helpers subordinate Clauses?

Since Thanksgiving, we’ve all been surrounded by Christmas carols, full of jing-jing-jingle-ing, rum-pum-pumming, and ho-ho-ho-ing. It ranges from the reverent and spiritually uplifting — think “The Hallelujah Chorus” — to the politically incorrect (“Baby It’s Cold Outside” has not aged well in the last 70 years). The fact that such a wide range of music can be played 24/7 for 30 straight days is a testament to the power and beauty of the Christmas message. 

It also is a compliment to our flexibility that we appreciate all of these traditional songs. After all, who here in LaGrange has actually ridden in a one-horse open sleigh? Also, while I know there is always a statistical possibility of a white Christmas in mid-Georgia, it is about the same probability as me winning an Olympic gold medal in the high hurdles. And let’s face it, if there were any flying reindeer wandering the woods, come hunting season, they would rapidly become freezer meat and a wall trophy. 

Not everyone reacts to all of the music the same. For instance, because of Christmas carols, my sister has really ambivalent feelings about Santa. On the one hand, she understands his critical role in gift-giving and visiting all the children in the world on Christmas Eve. On the other hand, she finds him a little bit stalker-creepy. After all, he watches her when she’s sleeping and when she’s awake, and knows whether she’s been bad or good. She also questions how his “down-through-the-chimney” routine would shake out in a court of law if he were ever arrested for breaking and entering. 

When I was young, I was sensitive to baby Jesus songs. As a child, I couldn’t grasp the big picture — that Christmas is about birth and hope. Instead, I always focused on some of the distressing details that emerge in Christmas hymns. For instance, “Away in the Manger” always saddened me. The thought of the son of God being refused proper shelter, sleeping in a stable, without a crib was horrifying. The same went for the little drummer boy. Here was a little boy who – like me — didn’t have a nickel to his name, and no gift for the Little Lord Jesus. Instead, he played his drum, which, if you haven’t had infants lately, is not the instrument you would choose for a lullaby. 

Still, Christmas is a season of joy and generosity, and those feelings are reflected in its music. It is impossible for me to hear “O Holy Night” without getting cold chills. 

And no carol captures the spirit of the holiday more succinctly than the opening lines, “Joy to the world! The Lord is come!” God gave us a gift at Christmas, and our music reflects that.