Last week, I asked my friends to share their least favorite Christmas songs. A few days ago, I followed that up with asking for people to list the songs they love. My husband and I noted with interest that while the majority of our friends hate the same four songs, there was no consensus regarding favorites. We wondered at that. Is song badness universal? Is there really that much diversity in what people think is good?
Maybe. But I suspect that it’s a little more than that. After talking about it with several people, I noticed a few things. First, not everyone hates the songs that got top votes. But neither does anyone list them among favorites. So there is definitely something to the idea that they simply aren’t great songs to begin with. Second, all the songs people disliked are non-religious songs, with the notable exception of the Christmas Shoes. However, none of them are actual Christmas hymns, and even the Christmas Shoes song doesn’t refer to the Christmas story. That suggests to me that in all of those songs, for most people, there is something missing. Finally, nearly every person I spoke to could attach some specific memory or other emotional connection to favorite Christmas songs. The bad songs evoked a feeling of intense dislike, but no other emotions.
Perhaps that’s why there’s such diversity when it comes to songs people love. As it should be, they stir something within us. We are moved by the melody or the lyrics or both. When we hear the strains of a familiar carol, we recall the sense of wonder we experienced in Christmases past. The songs remind us of people and places we love. I suspect that’s what’s missing from the songs we don’t like. They simply don’t stir our souls. Some, like the novelty songs, are just for fun. But we can’t make any spiritual connection with them, and the interest quickly wears off. Others, like the Shoes, might be trying too hard. We’re supposed to connect with them at some deep, personal level, but we don’t.
As for me, give me songs that remind me what this season is all about. Not the presents, or even the joy of giving. Not the reindeer, stockings, Santa, and “magic.” Not even the sappiness of the Christmas Shoes. No, I want to be reminded of the humble servants who took on the role of parenting the Savior, the shepherds’ terror turned to joy, and the reverence of the wise men. I want to recall the longing of a nation waiting for its messiah, and the glory of his arrival.
May this last week before Christmas give you the opportunity to hear the songs you love, and may they draw you into the miracle of Jesus’ birth.