Singing in the Season
by Andrea Cameron
I can't get away with singing my muddled Christmas carols anymore. Inserting a "da, da, dum" in place of a line I can't remember doesn't cut it with a certain four year old.
For many years, I had a rule that there could be no Christmas decorations or carols until the beginning of Advent. I kept this rule to make Christmas special. I worry that if we celebrate Christmas for too long, it becomes ordinary. I never want to walk past my tree and not notice it because it's been up for so long. Besides, how depressing would it be for Christmas decorations to get dusty?
Two factors have made this rule hard to follow. I have a four year old who really knows what this whole Christmas deal is about. Compounding this issue is the arrival of Christmas paraphernalia in the stores before Halloween. How do I explain to my dazzled son that Christmas is still two months away when battery-operated Santas are dancing while we grocery shop?
I resisted the Christmas decorating until the last week of November. However, we started to sing Christmas songs shortly after Remembrance Day. Christmas carols are free and explore the true meaning of Christmas without materialism--at least they do when one actually knows the words.
We tracked down a Christmas carol book and over the past few weeks, I've made an effort to learn them. Their lullaby-quality and clean poetry make them a pleasure to sing--and put my son to sleep in minutes. But this is not before he issues his litany of critiques and demands. Sing the one about the Baby Jesus. Sing Silent Night. Sing the King song higher. I feel like a court jester trying to please a tyrannical king. I'm glad we started early. I have a lot of lyrics to learn.
My son rarely sings. I sing to him all the time, but I can hardly ever convince him to join in. However, a few nights ago, after a particularly firm request for Deck the Halls, his quiet voice joined me at Fa-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la. I didn't acknowledge it, afraid to break the spell.
It's continued to happen each night. As I sing, he too learns the songs. Every now and then, he joins me. Singing is not a milestone that is typically emphasized on developmental check-lists. Having had a child who's milestones were all over the map, those lists are burned into my brain, along with the anxiety they induced. Needless to say, the singing is important.
As Kieran and I lie in the dark, singing our carols, I think of how Christmas is more than a celebration. It's also a clear way to mark the passage of time. We think of where we were the year before and where we are now. We think of people who have left us and those who have entered our lives. It can be the saddest time of year for some and the happiest time for others. We sing songs that are hundreds of years old in honour of a long ago birth and in doing so, connect to the generations before us.