Happy New Year! As we turn the page into 2023, I have a new song to share! It’s quite a recent song, too; I wrote over the past several weeks of the holiday season. The working title for now is “It’s That Time of Year”.
As a performing artist who first started as a storyteller, I love a good story. I don’t care if it’s factual – as we say in our circles, every story has a truth. So, when the holiday season rolled around and my four-year-old started talking about Santa Claus and nothing else … I knew it was time for more stories.
Out they came: the Baby Jesus, the Maccabees, the Grinch, Ebenezer Scrooge, the Winter Solstice, and – one of my own childhood favorites – Amahl and the Night Visitors (those visitors would be the Three Kings). Every day, we read, sang, and talked about these different stories. We still talked about Santa, of course. We live in an apartment without a fireplace, so we had to figure out how to let him in! However, it was just one of many stories to tell on these dark nights in the Northern Hemisphere.
It was really fun to see how he made sense of these stories. He kept them close in his thoughts throughout the season. After Christmas Day, he asked regularly, “Where are the Wise Kings now? Are they talking to Herod yet? Or have they reached Amahl’s house already?”
According to the story, the kings will arrive in Bethlehem on January 6, also called Epiphany. I recently asked him if he thought the kings would have a gift for him, as well?
“No,” he replied plainly.
“Why not?” I asked, a bit surprised, I must admit. I mean, who doesn’t enjoy the idea of more gifts?
He looked at me confusedly and said, “Because I am not in Bethlehem, Mama.”
Of course, how could I be so silly …
I grew up in the Christian tradition of celebrating Christmas. However, I often wish we could integrate the stories told from all traditions this time of year. There is such richness to them! This year, in particular, I noticed how so many of these stories are about believing and trusting in something. Maybe it’s the magic oil keeping the temple lit longer than expected. Perhaps it’s a new king and symbol of divine love born in a barn. We all find ourselves needing that promise that warmth and life will return on the other side of winter …
Why do we believe these stories? Why do we tell them? Maybe it’s all the time I’ve spent with my son on this holiday break … I can’t help but wonder this year if believing in stories isn’t a crucial step toward believing in ourselves? How can we imagine what we want for our lives, without first learning to imagine in the first place?
Somewhere between these questions, wrapping gifts, watching snow fall, and doing way too many dishes, this song grew …
It’s That Time of Year
It’s that time of year, time for telling stories / Time for lighting candles, time for friends and family / Time to remember what we learned long ago / About the light, about the love, stories we’ve made our own
Some celebrate a baby, some look in darkness for the light / Some remember magic oil, some look for reindeer in the sky / May we remember, whatever stories we believe / We are the light, we are the love, we are the miracle we seek
I know times get hard, I know there is suffering / I know we need justice, and I know we can do something / I know stories may sound simple, but they’re not just tales we tell / We need the light, we need the love they show us in ourselves
May we remember the gift we all can give / The most important story is the one we choose to live / We are the love of a baby, we are the burning of the light / We are the ones who shine in darkness, we are the stars in the sky / We are the love, we are the light
It’s that time of year, time for telling stories …