There’s a guy at work who writes a “Christmas Poem” every year, and prints it on pretty paper to give to everyone. It’s a nice sentiment, and I think it comes from the heart. Lots of stuff about beautiful memories of days gone by, even those we’ve lost over the years, and wishes of hope and happiness for all this season. This is not that sort of poem.
You might imagine that I hesitated to share it because it’s not the sort of Christmas celebration people expect from posts like this. Yet it needed to be written, and maybe it needs to be read. I wrote it a long time ago, though I bring it out and whittle it down now and then, like I did again this year. It’s never been submitted at the right time of the year for it to show up in a winter publication anyway. Or maybe it just wasn’t ready.
While we celebrate with food and family, many of us we know are facing darker times. I’m not sure it helps to simply ignore the fact, broken families, broken hearts. Or maybe it’s just a let-down feeling that we get because the holiday time has been so hyped up that we get even more depressed feeling bad about being depressed.
Might I suggest something? If you are feeling down this holiday season, is there someone nearby who you could turn to and say, thank you for being here? They might need it as much as you. And if not, is there someone you can call whose voice you’d like to hear, or who might like to hear from you? And maybe there is someone you can drop by and visit (best to call or text first these days) with a tin of cookies and some eggnog. Maybe just a hug. It’s hard to not feel bad for feeling bad, or to not make others feel bad for feeling good.
I will leave the poem analysis to you. The song it is tied to has countless videos of Carrie Underwood’s voice singing it. Much as I like her, I think most modern remakes of this song don’t build like they should, don’t create the tension required. I’m not sure why; it seems to be right there in the music. Has it been flattened out to fit more easily into the overhead speakers at the mall? Don’t want to make those shoppers tense or sad, do we?
I thought of Andy Williams or Bing Crosby, listened to both, but decided on the more traditional sound, somber at first, then building to perhaps a little hope and light by the end. Plus I just love the harmonies of this original version recorded by the Harry Simeone Chorale in 1962. It kind of rewrites the Christmas story entirely, but why not? What fun is life if you can’t rewrite some stories, especially our own?
Not just tinsel and baubles, but may you have peace in your world this winter. First the poem, and you can read more about the song itself in the description of the video on YouTube.
What the Night Wind Said
The little lamb saw what he saw—
big and bright in the sky above him.
I wish I had seen it coming.
The night wind billowed up the curtains,
like a wedding dress blown forward
when a marching bride stalls.
I heard what I heard, the jangle of
your keys, the animal-huff, the scuff
of your purse, swiped from the table.
I saw you not looking back, heard
the thud like a barn door shut.
How did the night wind know
what to whisper to the lamb?
And how will I tell the little boy
this winter news? Shepherds
shiver in the cold—memories
of silver, rings of gold. I fear, for I know
and can already hear the questions he
will sing to his once mighty king.
© 2013 by David J. Bauman