Last year I introduced my kids to Dolly Parton's "Hard Candy Christmas, which, by the way, is one of the finest Christmas songs of all times. You might have thought my crew of millennials would have turned their noses up at Dolly's work, but no . . . they took to singing it everywhere they went, loudly, often in harmony. Jordan downloaded the piano music, and we stood around the piano belting out "Oh, I'll be FINE and DANDY, Lord it's like a hard candy Christmas!" We'd make serious faces while singing about getting away or losing some weight, and then smirk about getting drunk on apple wine. But that refrain: "I'm barely getting through tomorrow / but still I won't let / sorrow bring me way down," really got us somewhere deep in our gut.
The funny thing is that my kids know absolutely nothing about a hard candy Christmas -- that is, a Christmas when they might have only received a penny bag of candy. But really, Dolly's song is all about acknowledging the trials and inconveniences and frustrations of life and choosing happiness anyway -- and there's something universal and hopeful about that sentiment. And just singing it made us feel soulful and maybe even a little more compassionate towards those around us.
Monday's e-mail from my French-missionary-daughter reminded me of the hope of the Christmas season. Here's a bit of what she wrote:
Someone that I love once told me that they loved Christmas because they liked how we take the darkest, gloomiest, coldest time of the year and brighten it up with twinkling lights and hot chocolate and gingerbread. I love that too. When I walk down the FREEZING streets of Chalon at night, it doesn't seem so sad and cold when you see red and green lights strung from all the balconies. These tiny lights can brighten up a whole night.
We always talk about Jesus Christ being the light of the world. As a missionary, I've seen very clearly how the light of the gospel can illuminate an entire person's life. I know that is what Christ does for people. He lifts us up, he brightens our lives.
So, yes -- she's a keeper. And, yes, we are all wondering about this person she loves who is handy with twinkling lights and gingerbread. My sister is hoping that it's her, but she's a scrooge so I'm pretty sure she's wrong. But I'm also thinking that if my barely 20-year-old daughter can find joy this Christmas in the frigid streets of Chalon, then certainly we can do our part here. We're starting with french toast and working up our courage from there.
What about you? Any hopeful light-spreading this season?