Rustlings (December 10, 2018)

I’ll confess. I’m one of those ‘pre-Thanksgiving Christmas music listeners.’ It does not bother me in the least when radio stations go all-Christmas two days before Halloween. I do not mind listening to ‘Winter Wonderland’ on a 78 degree South Carolina November afternoon. I do have my rules. Classic Christmas music (by my definition) may only be heard after Thanksgiving. Pre-Thanksgiving music may only be Junk Christmas music. (I realize this is extremely subjective, but it’s my life, so I get to play by my rules.) The Carpenters, Elvis Presley, Amy Grant, James Taylor, choral Rutter works, Jackson Five, Mariah Carey, Charlie Brown Soundtrack and Harry Connick Jr. (as well as a few others) may only be played after Thanksgiving. Everyone else – Air Supply Christmas, Partridge Family Christmas, 38 Special Christmas, Barry Manilow Christmas, Nsync Christmas (you get the picture) may be played pre-Thanksgiving.

This year has been musically interesting. My listening patterns have included a lot of blues during the season. Along with the traditional holiday tunes, I’ve found Muddy Waters’ “Baby, Please Don’t Go,” Jimi Hendrix’s “Red House,” “Stormy Monday” by the Allman Brothers, and “Cold Shot” by Stevie Ray Vaughn slipping into my playlists. Maybe it’s just my continued bass lessons driving me toward these tunes, or maybe it’s something more. Maybe it’s the losses I’ve endured over the past year or that lingering sense of loneliness most of us carry in the missing of those we love.

I’m grateful our pastoral care ministers provide a Longest Night Service for us each December. It’s a quieter, shorter service that allows space for us to grieve – sense, name, hold and affirm – the harder side of the holiday season. This year’s Longest Night Service will be held on Wednesday, December 19, at 6:00pm in the Carpenter Chapel. Attend if you need it. Attend and be present for others who need it. Sometimes the blues is part of the holiday season…

— Jim