By Sue Murphy
I heard a toddler singing “Jingle Bells” in the aisle at the grocery store last week, an unmistakable signal that the Christmas season is upon us.
With all my plotting and planning for Christmas, I hadn’t even turned on the radio, but, since the bells had officially been jingled, I hurried home and broke out my Christmas CD stash. My daughter rolls her eyes when I talk about CD’s, but I’m a bricks-and-mortar kind of gal. All that MP3 stuff seems unreliable and, seriously, where exactly is this All Powerful Cloud and how do we know we can trust it? No, I want something with a picture on it that I can hold in my hand. But I digress.
The point is, every year, I buy a new Christmas CD. I have all the standards – Tony Bennett, Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole – but I also have Bette Midler, Jo Dee Messina and Jewel. I have Jimmy Buffett, Alvin and the Chipmunks and The Irish Rovers. I have Christmas music played on dulcimer and flute and electric guitar. Last year, I added a CD by Bob Dylan. He’s a definite departure from Perry Como, but listening to a leather jacket rebel belt out “Here Comes Santa Claus” does my heart good.
I usually run across my new CD on some store display, but I did a research run yesterday on Amazon. The old reliables were still there, but there was a surprisingly wide range of other holiday offerings – jazz, country, R&B. I’ve yet to see anybody “Rapping Around the Christmas Tree,” but that can’t be far away. Neil Diamond made a Christmas album. So did Cheap Trick. I even found one by the Duck Dynasty clan called “Duck the Halls.” Just on that one website, there were 400 pages of Christmas CD’s. That’s a lot of “Jingle Bells.”
“Jingle Bells” is one of those songs that you never outgrow. It’s a hearty, sing-a-long moment that taps into your happiest childhood Christmas memories. Most everyone sang “Jingle Bells” in a school pageant somewhere along the way. When my daughter was in high school, the choir director always invited the grown-up audience to pull out their car keys and jingle along as they sang, and we did, happy to be asked to be part of it because, sadly, when grown-ups sing “Jingle Bells” in the aisle at the grocery store, people tend to stare.
The perennial “Jingle Bells” connection is interesting because most of us have never been in a sleigh, one horse or otherwise. Here in Alabama, we don’t do a lot of dashing through the snow. But even without the bells on a bobtail, the sleighing song is just plain oh-what-fun to sing.
The song is kind of like an emotional homecoming, linking one Christmas to another. I was a guest at a Christmas party in a memory care unit some years ago and when the entertainer hit the first strains of “Jingle Bells,” everyone sang, even people who had not spoken in months. Powerful stuff.
So this Christmas season, while you’re wrestling the tree into the living room, trying to shore up the foundation of your gingerbread house, or puzzling over lights that won’t light on one side, go on, sing a little. What the heck, belt out a chorus or two in the produce aisle at the grocery store. Who knows? Someone behind the deli counter might just join in.
Jingle all the way, my friends. ‘Tis the season.