Wednesday, December 9, 2015

I Promise...

A year or two ago I wrote an article about a great Christmas song by Trans Siberian Orchestra.  It’s not Wizards in Winter or Christmas Eve Sarajevo, both of which you’ve likely heard on the radio at one point or another (when they weren’t playing Christmas Shoes, of course).  They’re good songs.  No, my favorite TSO song is my favorite because of some powerful lyrics, and it’s really worth another look:
Christmas time
On a cold December morning
All is calm
And the world is still asleep
Christmas lights
That have been caught without warning
Gently glitter on
Stars to wish upon
All the world is at peace
Christmas time and the year will soon be leaving
Cloaked in time till it's just a memory
Christmas stays if we don't forget its meaning
Days go quickly by
Years they multiply
And we go searching for thee
And the dream is still alive
From that first December morning
And it always will survive
As long as we can see
That the dreams we find in life
Are the dreams we tend to seek
And Christmas has its promises to keep
Christmas time
And the moments just beginning
From last night
When we'd wished upon a star
If our kindness
This day is just pretending
If we pretend long enough
Never giving up
It just might be who we are
On Christmas Eve we wish upon the Star of Bethlehem for Grace and Peace.  We long for the kindness and love we experience that night to take hold of our world, knowing all the while it won’t.  The ugly world is still there, waiting for Christmas to pass, and we wonder if our kindness was just pretending.  Still, the song suggests that “if we pretend long enough, never giving up, it just might be who we are.”  When I heard that song last Christmas and really digested it, I promised myself I would pretend.  I would never give up.  I would pretend that I was kind and forgiving and full of nothing but love until it was true.
Regular life ensued, and it shouldn’t have surprised me that I failed.  I’m human, after all.  Merely mortal.  I found that some days I could be kind and full of grace, but other days, well, other days were other days.  Difficult.  Fraught.  Frustrating and exhausting.
But then the song rolled around on my mp3 player again, and I heard these words as if for the first time: “and the dream is still alive from that first December morning, and it always will survive as long as we can see that dreams we find in life are the dreams we tend to seek—and Christmas has its promises to keep.”  The dream is still alive.  In me.  So long as I seek it.  Christmas will keep its promises.
I realized I had missed the most important words.  Never giving up.  Or I had misunderstood them.  Never giving up is not the same as never failing.  Never giving up means that when I fail I will try again.  I start by forgiving myself.  And then I seek the forgiveness of others.  I again pretend to be kind and forgiving, believing somewhere deep inside that if I pretend long enough, and if I never give up, it might be who I am.  That is the promise of Christmas—the promise of Christ.