Have you ever heard the argument that religion was created by people trying to convince themselves (or others) that life has a higher purpose and that there is an afterlife that’s better than our present life on Earth, so we need to behave in a certain way to earn it? (I’m not saying I believe that argument, just asking if you’ve ever heard it?) Well, I have a similar theory about many classic North American Christmas carols.
Have you ever noticed that many of our “Christmas” songs could be more accurately called “winter songs” because they make little or no reference to Christmas (either as a religious holiday or a secular one with Santa Claus)? Have you ever noticed that instead many of these songs simply glorify winter?
I never noticed this trend before this year, but I suddenly started to pay more attention to the words of these so-called Christmas carols. Perhaps that’s thanks to several Edmonton radio stations that have played nothing but Christmas music constantly since November 14. In any case, it occurred to me that these songs must have been written by people trying to convince themselves (or others) that the terrible weather we often have at Christmas (and well into the new year) in this northerly part of North America is wondrous and beautiful, something to be celebrated.
I think we’ve been handed a snow job.
Dashing through the snow is not a pleasure. It can be freezing cold and breathing in all that frosty air hurts your lungs. A white Christmas is no more special than a brown or a green one, especially if the white causes your flight home to be delayed or cancelled. In the lane, the snow that’s glistening is only a beautiful sight until there’s so much of it that you can’t get out of your garage. There may be no place to go now, but if it snows and snows and snows, the weather outside will still be frightful later when you do have somewhere to go. And your journey will be impeded by what the storm left behind.
Don’t get me wrong; I have nothing against Christmas or singing. I love the holidays and enjoy a ditty about Jolly Old St. Nicholas just as much as the next person. But some winter carols have nothing to do with Christmas. Instead they were written to gloss over how awful winter in the north really is. Sing the songs if you like, but don’t be snowed. Winter is not wondrous and beautiful; it is not something to be celebrated. If only it would end as quickly as Christmas (sadly) will! (Here in Edmonton, it’s hardly begun yet because we’re having an unseasonably warm December. But the evil lies in wait.)
I guess the best we can do, when we’re nestled all snug in our beds this winter, is to conjure visions of beach chairs to dance in our heads… and wait for the truly most wonderful time of the year—summer! [How many more days before then?]