When you live with Missy, the holidays start early.
Like, say, April.
You see, Missy has her own particular music tastes. Sometimes they incline to country, sometimes to classic rock, and a great many times, it runs to the Face Vocal Band. But it’s a rare trip with Missy The Great that doesn’t result in her reaching for a Christmas disc at least once.
Adeste fidelis, laeti triumphantes, the Robert Shaw Chorus will belt, just in time for Easter.
Have yourself a merry little Christmas, Rowlf the Dog and John Denver will croon as school children get out for the summer.
“Gee, I don’t know where I put that Dillard’s Christmas disc,” my wife Heather will tell her right around Independence Day. (Funny how we found it in time for Advent.)
Please don’t get me wrong. My wife and I are huge fans of holiday music. Well, most holiday music. I do agree with Mom that – except for the Muppet version – “The 12 Days of Christmas” is the December equivalent of “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall.” Heather will search for earplugs at the first pa-rup-pa-pum-pum of “The Little Drummer Boy.” And while I enjoy playing it, I sympathize with a friend who has heard “The Carol of the Bells” one too many times, to the point where I wrote her an alternative version:
Can’t stand the song,
Playing so long,
Gone round the bend,
When will it end?
What once was sweet,
Now just repeats,
Hearing it tolled,
Gets pretty old …
But for every quickly-dodged “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer,” there’s a much loved “Silent Night” or “Peace Carol” waiting to greet us. Heck, the John Denver and the Muppets “Christmas Together” album has been mandatory tree-decorating music since I was in grade school. Many sounds of the season are old familiar friends.
It’s just that, before we became guardians of Heather’s young disabled aunt, those friends had never taken out a long-term lease.
You might think that would get wearisome after a while. You’d be right, to a point. But only to a point.
And that point ends where the smile on Missy’s face begins.
It’s funny. Every year, someone brings up how the spirit of Christmas should survive the whole year round. They don’t mean the lights, the trees and the crowded parking lots, of course, but the joy, peace and wonder the season was meant to instill.
But even with the best of intentions, it all gets drowned out by January. The humdrum and the everyday take over and we head back to our safe, familiar ruts to set our safe, familiar course for the rest of the year.
Until something happens to shake us out of it. And make us pay attention.
This year, Missy was a rut-shaker in a big way. There’s nothing safe or familiar about taking up a guardianship. You find a lot of surprises, a lot of lessons, a lot of joy in simple things.
It’s like finding “Silent Night” in the middle of baseball season. Unexpected. But still beautiful.
Still capable of re-lighting the spirit.
This year, I think the Nativity spirit really will last. We can see the excitement every morning. We can feel the joy every night. Even in the hardest times, the peace will endure.
Especially if we remember to expand Missy’s CD collection.
Just a little.