The Christmas season always makes me a little weepy. Sometimes all the frivolity is just too much. Tears often flow at the end of Hallmark movies, in the middle of crowded stores, or when a especially poignant song comes on the radio. Usually it is “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” because no matter who sings it, that song is heartbreaking, but the other morning another Christmas song took me by surprise. I was driving around, doing some last minute shopping, when “Grown-up Christmas List” popped up on Holly, a holiday station on satellite radio. I found myself gulping down sobs as I listened to the lyrics. When I pulled over in a mall parking lot, I wiped messy tears from my old face.
What was it about this song that dredged up such emotions? I looked up the lyrics while I ate my Panera soup and sandwich. This song encapsulates this messy, broken world we live in today, even though it was written in 1990. Every generation has its demons and its heroes. At the beginning of the last decade of the twentieth century, Saddam Hussein rattled his swords throughout the Middle East, Lech Walesa became president of Poland, and the Berlin Wall was demolished. The United States was on the verge of a major recession. Nelson Mandela was freed from a South African prison. President Bush and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachov signed an agreement to end chemical weapons production. Evil was present, yet good marched forward.
Many of us believe the tribulations we face today are unscalable, but for every bullying, sexist tweet or vicious attempt at oppression there are hundreds of examples of truth. Our beliefs may often seem shattered, yet hope reigns. The devils are everywhere: in our churches, our schools, our movies, and in our government. They prey on the vulnerable. They steal from the poor. They rob of us our innocence. Often it seems as if they are suffocating us, pilfering our dreams, but there are also angels among us that outnumber these demons. They fight for truth. They help the downtrodden. They hold out their hands to help. Decency triumphs because history isn’t kind to dictators, oligarchs, and purveyors of hate.
Before I sat down to write this, I listened to different interpretations of “Grown-up Christmas List.” From Amy Grant to Kelly Clarkson to Michael Buble, each summoned up childhood lists, my wishes for books or dolls or board games. I scanned the night sky on Christmas Eve, hoping to spot Santa’s sleigh. Now I’m older, I still believe in Santa but my lists have changed. I no longer want toys. I pray for peace. I hope for justice. I propose love, because love is stronger that hate. This is my grownup Christmas list.
“So here’s my lifelong wish,
My grown-up Christmas list,
Not for myself, but for a world in need:
No more lives torn apart,
Then wars would never starts,
And time would heal all hearts.
And every one would have a friend,
And right would always win,
And love would never end
This is my grown-up Christmas list.”
Songwriters: Linda Thompson/David Foster