Christmas | porchlight - Indiana Public Media

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The S.A. Smith Factory, Brattleboro, Vermont.

Christmas has been a part of my life every year for a long time. It mostly has to do with the way I was brought up: middle class, Catholic, just past the midway point of the 20th Century. Like many young kids, I was joyfully immersed; taking it all in while taking it all for granted. There are moments from those long-gone Decembers that I can recall in great detail, like lying underneath a decorated Christmas tree in the dark watching the bubble lights or trudging down an unplowed street through a foot of fresh fallen snow to Midnight Mass. All those details aside, I wasn’t really present, just very excited to be there. You know, Kid Consciousness.

Over the years, I have developed a gentle appreciation for Christmas that comes from the perspective of passing time. I celebrate the season far less even as I respect it far more. A personal meaning for this holiday has emerged that transcends the gift-giving, the traditions, even the religious significance of it all.

It originates from a place where my reverence lies: from one of the old invented stories that accompany the holiday. So this is the way it got presented at the Holy Cross school pageant: Joseph, Mary, and the Christchild yet to be born were all refugees fleeing persecution. But despite their obvious need and a common awareness of their plight, they were refused help by strangers when they asked for simple shelter.

Eventually, they were allowed to stay in a stable among animals. This is where the child was born.

Personal experience, as well as current circumstances, have deepened this story’s significance for me. I like that the story tells of a miraculous event that involved everyday people that were actually counted in a census taken at the time going to places that could be found on maps of the day. And the steady guidance offered by the light of a distant star. Here and now, it’s the same night sky and a very different world that come together every year right around this time. 

So however you might feel about Christmas, the close of yet another year on this earth remains a very good reason to celebrate.


Song, Artist, Album

Christmastime Is Here (Vocal), Vince Guaraldi, Charlie Brown Christmas

2000 Miles, Pretenders, Learning To Crawl  

Christmastime Is Here (Inst.),  Vince Guaraldi, Charlie Brown Christmas

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, Judy Garland

The Man With All The Toys, Beach Boys, Christmas Album

Santa Claus Is Coming To Town, Bruce Springsteen, Sounds Of Season

Greensleeves, Jeff Beck, Truth

Jingle Bell Rock, Bobby Helms, 101 Christmas Songs

Run Rudolph Run, Chuck Berry, The Chess Box

Child Of Light, John Harman, NPR Jazz Christmas

Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree, Brenda Lee, Christmas Collection

Toyland, Doris Day, Personal Christmas Collection

White Christmas, Bing Crosby, Billboard – Greatest Christmas

Blue Christmas, Elvis Presley, Elvis Christmas Album    

Happy Xmas (War Is Over), John Lennon/Yoko Ono, Imagine