December 11th, 2010 by ~ 6 Comments

All I Ever Get For Christmas is Blue

I was talking with The Future the other day about Christmas music and our discussion led to bands that feel the need to make a Christmas CD and how often these kinds of albums don’t seem to measure up to anything else the band had recorded.I asked him if he had ever heard of Snow Angels by a group called Over The Rhine. His immediate response was, “Well, that’s not really fair to include them in this list.”

What he meant was, it’s a little like stacking the card deck, or pitting men against boys. It’s just not like all the rest.

I just recently discovered Snow Angels this year, even though it is a 2007 release from OTR. I can easily say I have no other Christmas recording like it.The only downside I can think of is that I might listen to it too much and thereby lose some of its savor.

Christmas is thought of as a happy time of celebration.All the commercial images we see portrayed are happy people shopping for gifts to make people even happier. The food you serve makes you and your loved ones happy. We want it to be this way, but the reality of the holiday doesn’t always deliver that same end result.

Snow Angels has a way of expressing this darker side without being morose, despondent or hopeless. It allows you to acknowledge the emotion of loneliness that comes from being without a loved one during the holiday, while not encouraging you to wallow in pity.It says that sorrow from loss is natural, because that person meant something.It does something very few works of art can do; it encourages you, in the Words of Solomon, to grasp one and not let go of the other. To hold joy in one hand, and grief in the other is very difficult to do, if not near impossible.

My Christmas this year finds me tussling with these kinds of juxtaposed feelings. I hold the ugliness of Karen’s cancer in one hand, and the relief of her recovery in the other. I grip the sadness of a boy leaving for college, and at the same time, clutch the hope of a young man growing to maturity to change his world. I hang on to the quietness of the house during this season, while not letting go of the memories of children who daily took inventory of the presents under the tree, waiting eagerly for the day they could tear into the wrapping.

Listening to Snow Angels offers me the opportunity to survey both sides of my story, to reach out and embrace either side at will. The road up to the mountain leads through the valley. It can’t be circumvented, try as I may.

6 Responses

  1. Feng Suede says:

    Grasp one without losing hold of the other…

    Admitting there are multiple combinations of contradictory feelings during a festive time of year.

    Being real and honest…about The Shinn's year of the cancer.

    These are reasons why you aren't just an owner of a good restaurant.

    It is why you are important in our time and space today. Please keep it up, we need a new kind of prophet today, someone to actually listen to that isn't just a talking head.

  2. Kyle and Amelia says:

    All I have to say is that my iTunes library just grew by 14 songs. Thank you for this recommendation. I'm halfway through my first listen of this album and I know exactly why you can't resist playing it over and over again.

  3. Deidra says:

    I heard OTR for the first time this year. Wow. They are good. So now I'm off to check out iTunes.

  4. Glynn says:

    Deidra sent me over here — I had been listening to Snow Angels and just recomemended it as a Christmas CD for a group project we're involved in. You describe it well.

  5. Dena Dyer says:

    It IS such a multi-layered and multi-colored holiday for so many people. The reds and greens are there, but so are the blues. You wrote about it very well.

    I got to hear OTR for the first time in September, and I was blown away. Now I HAVE to have their Christmas album. I didn't even know they had one!

    Thanks for posting this–and thanks to Deidra for pointing it out. :)

  6. Laura says:

    Over here from Deidre too…and so pumped to find out OTR have a Christmas CD. I've been wearing out their new one The Long Surrender. Now I am hooked. Thank you for sharing this bit of grace.