So concerned with telling was I, the power of showing was neglected. My purpose has never been to dictate a proper celebration of the season, but to describe it. Actions speak louder, but when all we have between us is words....
There is a passage, on a Christmas Revels recording I have, that captures it. A woman reads from her own Kentucky memoirs. She tells of a time, within her lifetime, when Christmas in America was still not about gifts and trees and electronic carols blared from loudspeakers. In fact, she tells of the first time her family thought to get a Christmas tree, a new idea in the hills where she lived, one she figured her Maw got from magazines and "the outside world." They went out in a snowstorm to get it, and had to settle for a sycamore sapling with almost bare branches. But, she says, when they'd strung popcorn and bits of colored paper torn from catalogs and decorated it, it was the most beautiful thing they'd ever seen.
Hard to imagine, isn't it?
And on Christmas morning, they celebrate by going out at dawn, gathering outside her grandmother's window, and singing. The song they sing is one of the most beautiful in the American catalog. If you don't know the tune, the words alone almost don't do it justice:
What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul!
What wondrous love is this, O my soul!
What wondrous love is this that caused the Lord of bliss
To bear the dreadful curse for my soul, for my soul,
To bear the dreadful curse for my soul.
Ye winged seraphs fly, bear the news, bear the news,
Ye winged seraphs fly, bear the news
Ye winged seraphs fly,
like comets through the sky!
Fill vast eternity, with the news, with the news!
Fill vast eternity with the news!
To God and to the Lamb, I will sing, I will sing;
To God and to the Lamb, I will sing.
To God and to the Lamb Who is the great “I Am”;
While millions join the theme, I will sing, I will sing;
While millions join the theme, I will sing.
And that, Charlie Brown, is getting a lot closer to what Christmas is all about.