Christmas musings surely take place with everyone. The world seems to slow down at Christmas, a time which gives us pause as we reflect on the joy of the most celebrated season of the year.
You think about the good tidings and goodwill at Christmas. A simmering fire and a stimulating refreshment with Bing Crosby singing in the background. If we didn't have Bing's music at Christmas -- even years after his death -- something would go missing in life. He puts all the rappers to shame. What a soothing, mellow voice to bring comforting peace into our downtime during the holidays.
Traditional Christmas carols endure. They stand the test of time. There aren't many artists who come forth with new Christmas numbers that are good enough to bump the classics we have come to enjoy year after year.
Bing and "White Christmas." Bing and "Walking in a Winter Wonderland." Mel Torme and "Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire." These are among my favorites.
If you spend time in New York at Christmas, you always come away with upraised emotions. No city dresses up for Christmas like New York does. The traditional Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center is the centerpiece of a city where people usually never slow down. At Christmas, however, they don't seem to be in such a rush.
The skating rink beneath the big tree is filled with skaters in winter attire, highlighted by red scarves that flap gently in the wind. Not sure my back is healthy enough to try that again, but in another day, skating at Rockefeller Center with "Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire" in the background was a highlight of a winter trip to our nation's most exciting city. It conjures up images of a family skating on their frozen farm pond somewhere in New England.
In Philadelphia on a recent tour of the oldest neighborhood in America recently, ladies dressed like colonial dames gathered to greet visitors with Christmas carols. This occurrence got my curiosity going. How did Christmas carols come about?
The good that can come from the Internet disclosed that Christmas carols date back to Francis of Assisi. Then when the Middle Ages came along, the English combined circle dances with singing and called them carols. In the beginning carols usually related to a religious topic sang in a festive atmosphere. There was no reference to the influence of cold weather, but it is likely that caroling got its start when the temperatures were down and people began to gather and celebrate. Then the tradition of singing door-to-door came about. Singing and sharing at Christmas. Isn't that what makes the season?
Then government got involved. Parliament during the time of Cromwell considered the singing of Christmas carols to be pagan. It wasn't until Charles II and the return of the Stuarts to the throne that England began practicing the singing of Christmas carols again.
Where do we find the best music at Christmas today? In churches, of course. The cold spell this year has heightened my Christmas spirit. A fire every day of Christmas week. A good book to read, and little kids scurrying about. A toast to the good things in life. What could be better? Then Bing sings "White Christmas" again and melancholy sets it. I have experienced Christmas in Miami. It didn't feel like Christmas. I have experienced Christmas in England and France. That, too, was fun, but different.
I don't have a bucket list, but experiencing a White Christmas in Vermont has long been a dream. I want to ride in a one-horse open sleigh with sleigh bells ringing, tree tops glistening, and jack frost nipping at my nose. Hallmark couldn't top that.
Loran Smith is affiliated with the University of Georgia and can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.