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Christmas Music is Different This Year

Songs to shift your heart from what was

to what’s to come.

By Aaron Pals

There’s a theme of loss and longing that threads itself through many of the Christmas songs that I’ve listened to for years. The theme has always been there but has gone, either, misunderstood or undetected for most of my life. I always knew(ish) the holidays (and the songs they bring) were hard on those who had lost a loved one, had a loved one deployed, or, for various reasons, couldn’t round out their ideal family roster that year. I know, now, what I didn’t really know then. The songs I had always sung with almost undignified vim and vigor are now approached with severely attenuated excitement. I always took pride in matching the timbre and timing (my wife might disagree) of artists like Bing Crosby, Elvis, and Michael Buble. Songs like the following were all pieces I’d break out the faux microphone for and belt out with the intensity of Ellen and Clark Griswold combined:

-All I Want for Christmas is You

-Blue Christmas

-Christmas Shoes (Sorry, had to include it.)

-Please Come Home for Christmas

-There’s No Place Like Home for the Holidays

-I’ll Be Home for Christmas

-White Christmas …”Just like the ones I used to know.”

This year it’s different. My dad passed away, not quite a year ago, on Dec. 2nd, 2019.

My family and I are fast approaching the year mark of missing him. Last year, I’m uncertain of how I dealt with the seemingly overly joyful tone of the “most wonderful time of the year” because a viscous fog surrounded most of the events following my dad’s death. Christmas music didn’t seem to register much because my mind was mired in thoughts of other ways to cope with my recent loss and I wanted to focus on the next few steps I could take to just move forward.

This year, my voice is a bit shaky and the automatic elation Christmas music used to stimulate isn’t there. I’m finding a necessity to censor my Christmas music intake because, all too often, it causes thoughts of loss, not hope. Thoughts of despair, not delight. Thoughts of angst, not peace. A longing for what was, not what is to come.

This holiday season the focus of my longing needs to shift to the ways God has already secured an eternal future of hope. The shift has to be intentional

That last one is where my biggest breakdown has been. A heavy rotation of content that bemoans the lack of an optimal holiday setup is not what my heart and soul need. This holiday season the focus of my longing needs to shift to the ways God has already secured an eternal future of hope. The shift has to be intentional -I’ve had to seek out the scripture passages and songs that recount the promises of God I can bank on now and in the seasons of life that threaten to steal my joy and keep me trapped in “what was” instead of “what’s to come.” Here are some scripture passages and songs that are pointing me in a better direction. Hopefully, these can serve to encourage you if you find yourself in a similar situation or mindset.

 Scripture to shift the direction of your longing:

-He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you.

1 Peter 1:3-4

Our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Philippians 3:20

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Romans 15:13

For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen.

2 Corinthians 4:17-18

But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;

his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

Lamentations 3:21-23


Behold, I am coming soon.

Revelation 22:12


Christmas (and other) songs to shift the direction of your longing:

Emannuel (Hope of Heaven) -North Point Worship

Hope is Here (Joy to the World) -Dan Macaulay

Christ Our Hope In Life and Death -Keith and Kristyn Getty

Emmanuel (God With Us Forever) -Bryan and Katie Torwalt

Jesus, Strong and Kind -CityAlight

I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day -MercyMe

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