The Music of Christmas
by Evelyn Pyburn
Given the seasonal cynical comments, of all the ba-humbuggers, I suppose I should be embarrassed to admit that I like Christmas music. But I do. It’s joyful.
I have always liked Christmas music, especially when it is wafting through the corridors of a department store or mall. I also enjoy the lights and all the corny gift ideas. Even the crowds. Without all those people bustling about, the celebration that is Christmas, would lack much of its excitement.
Part of my joy goes back to those rare events when, as a child, our family would allot one evening, in downtown Bozeman, to shop for Christmas. Shopping was a much bigger deal for my brothers and I, than it probably is for kids, now- a -days. We never “shopped”. Especially, not as a family event.
It was usually cold and snowy. The ice and snow reflected all the brilliance of the Christmas decorations that adorned Main Street, scattering the lights into a zillion little pieces. There was Christmas music seeping through every doorway, lights and displays sparkled from every window. And for kids from the country, the hustle and bustle of lots of people was nothing but heady excitement.
Mom and Dad would dole out a sum, to be spent on one another, and then set us free to explore the shops and stores to our heart’s content. (Believe it or not, no one worried a whit about us being safe. There was no reason to worry.)
It was great fun prowling the store aisles; sharing a significant find that was just right for one of us; sneaking about in making the purchase; keeping each other’s secrets; and wondering what gifts Mom and Dad were finding for us.
The highlight of the evening was eating dinner at the counter in Woolworth’s! Eating out was a big, big deal. Eating out was even more rare than being able to go shopping. (Those who know what Woolworth’s was are showing their age; for those who don’t— it was a department store.) I can still smell all the wonderful smells, and I knew that Dad was going to order the turkey dinner plate. Can you imagine kids considering eating at the counter in a dime store as exciting, today?
Shopping has never been as much fun as it was then, but there’s still a joy and excitement of it that is part and parcel of the joy of the season -– I know that that’s true because people just wouldn’t do it, if there wasn’t fun in it, no matter what all the bah-humbuggers say.
When I look around a Christmas, I don’t see angry, frustrated people, I see busy, happy people. And joy is all about, if you but look for it. There’s the joy of children peering at store displays, as I once did, or the intent faces of those imagining the look of joy they hope to bring to someone’s face on Christmas morning.
One of the most wonderful Christmas experiences I’ve ever had wasn’t that long ago. It was the first time I ever saw a house decorated with brilliant lights, blinking in sync with Christmas music. I laughed out loud with the sheer delight of it. It was totally wonderful to see that someone worked so hard to create something, for no other purpose, than to make someone laugh out loud in appreciation of the joy that was dancing around with all those crazy lights and the beautiful music. It was one huge exuberant expression of joy.
That’s what I see when I see the lights of Christmas trees peering from windows along a street. Or even if it’s just one skinny string of lights along a porch railing. It is someone’s expression of joy. No matter how modest the decorations, they took some effort. If the decorations didn’t reflect some level of joy and good will, they wouldn’t be there. I see that joy, and revel in the fact that so many people can find joy and want to share it.
May your Christmas be merry and joyful.