The more Christmases I have under my belt, the more puzzled I am by much of the Christmas music. Don’t misunderstand me, I love Christmas Music. We have a rule in our house: No Christmas Music until Thanksgiving Day. Otherwise, we play it so much, we’d get sick of it before Christmas even rolled around. As it is, that month-ish between the holidays is just about the perfect amount of time to squeeze the juice out of the musical Christmas fruit before I’m ready for an eleven-month break. And then, the following year, every year, I’m so excited to start listening again that I definitely sneak in listens while I’m alone in my car, before Thanksgiving.
Round Yon Virgin
I remember in middle school when I finally paid attention to the lyrics of Silent Night. “Round yon virgin”. Wait. What? An adult in my life informed me that it literally meant, “Hey! There’s a round-bellied virgin over yonder.” This struck me as so funny and ridiculous it was hard to take the song seriously again for many years. I mean, it definitely has a poetic ring to it. But if I hadn’t grown up singing this by candlelight in church, the sacred beauty of the song may very well have been lost on me.
Reindeer Paws. Pause?
When I was a kid, our grandparents sang to us all the time. It was the best on car rides. Both my Gram and Grandpa had their favorite Christmas songs into which they would burst. This was always followed by the happy voices of my sisters and me. I remember my Grandpa’s favorite song, “Up on the House Top.”
“Up on the housetop, reindeer paws . . . “ Which is literally how I’ve been singing it for the last nearly 50 years. Reindeer paws. Because they’re up on the house top with Santa all fidgety and bursting with joy. Their reindeer paws going “click, click, click,” right? Nope! I literally just learned that the lyric is different from what I had thought, as I was googling the words for this post.
“Up on the housetop, reindeer pause . . . “ Pahahahahahaha!! Of course, this makes sense because the next line is, “out jumps good old Santa Claus”. He can’t very well jump out if the reindeer don’t slow down. This knowledge is really messing with my memories. All this time I had a mental picture of the scene on the housetop. Raucus, dancey, prancey. According to the official lyrics though, maybe it was a little quieter. A pause . . . .
Either way, it was my Grandpa’s favorite song and the epitome of a happy childhood driving around singing Christmas music at the tops of our voices.
The Sounds Of Joy
In the last few days, a song phrase has really been calling to a deep place in me. From Joy To The World: “ . . . repeat the sounding joy . . .” This is so beautiful to me and I’m not even sure I really understand it. But my mind keeps journeying through that phrase. Joy. Sounding joy. There are so many sounds of joy: My sisters and I singing with our grandparents. Merry gentlemen and ladies laughing and clinking holiday glasses. Reindeer on rooftops. Even the silence of a starry winter night.
Also sounds of joy: The kindness of friends. Laughter. The peaceful calm of all is well.
However you celebrate the holiday season, may the sounds and songs around you be merry and bright. Whether you find humor in unexpected lyrics, or comfort in nostalgia. I hope that the sounds of joy surround you and repeat and repeat and repeat. All the way into the new year and beyond.
If you love humor and nostalgia, or if the holidays are difficult and what you really need is the peaceful calm of all is well, let’s be friends~