Sunday, November 29, 2009
Don't think about the words
Don't think about the words. That's the only way I can make it through most Christmas carols without choking up. It's like singing at a funeral or a wedding. The emotion has to be kept at a safe distance, with just enough creeping through to convey the credible, heartfelt warmth for which those situations call. Perhaps it sounds cold, but the alternative is rafts of sniffling singers with tear-stained cheeks blubbering their way through every sad or joyous occasion imaginable. But Christmas? Holiday songs did not always make me cry. Actually, I'm not quite sure when the phenomenon began. One year, I picked up my guitar, started to sing Silent Night, and before the end of the second verse, I had begun to turn into a puddle. Silver Bells, an innocuous ditty about shopping, lights and bells, same thing. O Holy Night was like a burst levee, as was It Came Upon A Midnight Clear. What changed? Why was Christmas twisting a knife into my heart? So I worked on the distance. Now I can sing and play carols for hours on end with hardly a tear. Unless I think about the words. Because sometimes, especially at Christmastime, you just have to cry.