Walking on Fresh Grass
“Six white boomers!” I started singing at the top of my voice. Yes, Australia has its own Christmas carols about Santa being pulled by 6 big old man kangaroos called boomers. Christian gave me “a look” and continued to play the introduction on the piano.
“What?” I said.
“You came in early” he whispered, and smiled.
Starting a song early is fine, even when you are leading the singing for 33 people in a small intimate setting. Everybody finds where the beat is, finds the rhythm and gets into harmony somehow automatically.
Each year we sing carols around our piano with old friends and new. It’s our Christmas. We decorate the house. There is a lot of joy, laughter, noise and gingerbread. Red and white wine and our secret recipe punch are obligatory.
I love this day. I love lying under the tree and staring at the lights through the branches. I love baking and icing cookies. I love the laughter that fills the house as we set up the chairs, light the candles and hang the wreath on the door. In 30 degrees Celsius.
Each year we ask guests to recall a memory of Christmas. This year, most people shared beautiful, loving stories. But there were sadder memories. As we went around the group, we heard stories of loved ones that have passed on, tough battles with health issues, separations. Big things. Some only shared a few words, but the weight of pain behind their Christmas-season mask was heartbreaking.
Just as physical pain seems to increase at night, emotional pain is more acute during Christmas. As I listened to the stories, I felt humbled that I am allowed to feel such joy while there is so much anguish. I like getting things perfect and I like entertaining, but here I was, confronted by some Christmas realities. I remembered that two of our regular singers could not join us this year. The tunes evoked too many painful feelings. Music can do that. It can by-pass the brain and overwhelm the heart.
At least a dozen people that night told us how much they miss community singing. They get to do it once a year, only at our carols.
The next song was Oh Holy Night sung beautifully as a solo. I just listened. I let the music wash over me.
Music touches the real self. Music heals wounds. I looked at those around me and watched the transformation on faces as people listened. Listened deeply.
After the song, Christian and I just looked at each other. We were thinking the same thing. He hears so many stories of pain at Christmas. But the true song of Christmas is bittersweet. It contains joy amidst stories of heartache.
I’d like to offer you another gift that doesn’t cost anything.
Take a moment away from the ads that command your attention and to-do lists that scream at you, and listen to the words and music of your favourite Christmas carol.
If you listen closely, you just might hear the angels sing.
We would love to hear why a Christmas song is special to you.
Please share this with us by leaving a comment.
Welcome to our blog. Each blog contains a little story of our journey and an insight drawn from Christian's 18 years of clinical experience as a psychiatrist. The central ideas are in bold. We post every fortnight and would love to hear your comments. Looking forward to travelling with you in this amazing journey called life.