A Childrens’ Winter
by Dermot O’Reilly
Though not necessarily a Christmas song, it’s not unusual to hear it performed in clubs and at concerts this time of the year. The easy D-A-G arrangement makes this ideal as something to loosen up the fingers while also loosening up a gathering of people who may, or may not know the words, and who may or may not know exactly what it is they have in common. At times like those safe-bets are always a good idea. After all, who does not have memories of being outdoors, playing with childhood friends in new fallen-snow. Those can be shared.
Just stop and think for a moment. Can you see some children sledding, others making a snowman, and still others throwing snowballs? Can you recall the sound of childrens’ laughter, softly muted by the falling snow?
Christmas Eve in St. Johns
by Gary O’Driscol, performed by D’arcy Broderick
Look around you at the images most people associate with Christmas. Notice the smiling faces and the stuff; the plenitude of material goods, whether they be the gifts exchanged or the food and drink consumed. In so many ways Christmas is portrayed as a time of joyful excess, a time when we party more than we should, laugh just as we should and don’t get too stressed when we notice that the belts around our waists need to be let out an extra notch or two.
Not only are those images everywhere but other aspects of our culture encourage us to only see them. The happy songs, the ads for stuff from the stores, even the, “here b’y have a drop of the Christmas cheer,” all of it serves to turn our eyes towards excess, towards merriment.
And to not look at the others.
Who? You know—the ones who, for whatever reason, don’t feel joyful right now: the lonely, the ones who grieve, whether it be for lost health (their own or that of someone they love), lost employment, or even the loss of a loved one. Them.
Just the other day, while talking to a friend at work about what gifts we were purchasing this year she noted that this year her family had ‘adopted’ another one and were all—adults and kids—purchasing gifts for their less fortunate counterparts. The giving would be anonymous, of course, the way it should be. Funny, though, I could see by her eyes that she was getting so much more joy from planning and handling that project than she was getting from handling the giving at home.
My friend generally has it together, I figure.
Little Drummer Boy
by Katherine Kennicott Davis, performed by Bob Seger
You know how it is with some songs—you can hear them time after time and barely take notice. On one single occasion, though, for whatever reason they just strike your fancy, becoming, at first, a welcome ear worm and then, over time, a song you look forward to with anticipation. For me, this is one of those.
In the version below the focus is clearly on Bob. He’s in charge and the camera loves him. He’s got the kind of voice that can add interest to any type of music and his take on the song it at once passionate, unique yet still accessible.
It looks like an acoustic set but don’t let that fool you. Listen for the horns, out of sight but nonetheless powerful. Now the guitars—played with the apparent effortlessness that only comes from decades of practice. And the backup singers—you can hardly notice them tucked away in the background. The harmonies they layer on top of Bob’s vocals elevate the song.
In the end, it’s Bob’s skill and charisma that bring it to us. But, by themselves neither Bob nor the Silver Bullet Band would be remarkable. But together? Pure passion and magic!
So much of what happens at Christmas is like that, too. The director of the food sharing association is the visible front for hundreds of volunteers and tens of thousands of donors. So too with the kind gentle faces of the SA workers who smile when you put a donation in the kettle and who also don’t judge when your pockets are empty—they are the front for thousands more who work behind the scenes day after day.
And so it goes. Some of the heroes are visible and many, many more are not.
Next, the top three, coming tomorrow or the day after.