By Shelley Luedtke
Our oldest daughter was 3½ years old when we brought her home from Romania. It was at the beginning of December and a wreath of fresh greens greeted us at the front door--a welcome home to us and Vandana from her grandmother--and a reminder that we were heading into the Christmas season.
Since we had no idea how the transition from an orphanage to her new home would go, we intentionally kept our Christmas plans very, very simple that year. We put up a tree, filled a large basket with childrens' Christmas books, and we sang. A lot. Christmas songs and carols filled our home, as well as the gap in the language barrier we were working through.
Music is a big thing to me all year and perhaps even more so at Christmas. I love surrounding myself with it, particularly carols I have been singing since I was a child. Not everyone feels the same.
We are hearing again of the annoyance on the part of those who do not like being subjected to endless songs about Rudolph, angels or a winter wonderland. Some psychologists are in their corner and suggest "relentless festive tunes" can be harmful to the mental well-being of some people, especially those who work in retail and are forced to listen all day. Then comes the news that a handful of radio stations are banning the playing of certain songs citing concern over the lyrics, or even the context out of which the song came.
It frustrates me that while there is such alarm over some holiday lyrics, the same outrage isn't expressed the rest of the year. Consider what 2018 brought us. The profanity, sexual content and slams against the police, church and government by the year's top-selling artists is cringe-worthy. I was going to reference lyrics by a performer who is nominated for five Grammy Awards this year but even with carefully placed asterisks and symbols I simply cannot include them. They are too graphic and foul. Yet the female rapper will be the darling of the Grammy red carpet this year.
Then there are those who want to extend the ban to the songs that premiered at minstrel shows in acts that are no longer viewed culturally appropriate. Wouldn't the list of non-seasonal songs be extensive then, too?
Not everyone likes Christmas music--I get that. But how is it that stations cave to a minority when it comes to Christmas songs but would see my objections to what they play the rest of the year as simply the rant of a close-minded individual trying to shove my morality down their throats?
While some retailers say they won't stop playing Christmas music despite workplace complaints and harassment suits (much like the Sheriff who has been sued multiple times for playing Christmas music but has consistently prevailed), other places are letting it be known they won't be playing seasonal songs or pumping pine or cinnamon scents in the air. That's fine. Great actually. As a consumer I can choose which place I want to go to. But that's just it. It's my choice. Just like music I might buy or stations I might listen to. Or not. And actually, right now the 'or not' sounds pretty appealing.
Maybe shutting down the noise for a while is something we could all use. To stop getting riled up by political rhetoric or the agenda of special interests. To stop being the pawns of digital communities. To stop being dragged into arguments that will yield little more than raised blood pressure.
That first Christmas with our new daughter, 20 years ago now, was so simple in its focus and so meaningful in its celebration, because all the other noise was kept away. On Christmas Day, just three weeks after arriving home, Vandana and her dad were playing with her new Duplo blocks and singing "Away in a Manger". In the stillness of the previous three weeks the message of the manger came through loud and clear--and she heard it, and learned it in a language that was new to her.
We could all benefit from blocking out the noise and tuning in to some quiet. We need to take time to be silent. Amidst all the busyness? Can that be done? Yes, it can. More importantly, it needs to be done. You just might be amazed at what you hear when you allow the quiet to settle around you. That's my outlook.
By Shelley Luedtke