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We should continue listening to Christmas Carols into the New Year — and keep the tree up for weeks

During peak crazy times, carols can be like the unseen cave we escape into as the monsters race by. They offer a moment’s respite in which we can connect with our deeper selves …

… carols are not just for Christians, either

As I write this, I am listening to Christmas Carols on my laptop. I have a You Tube channel that plays them continually without commercial interruption.

I started listening to them in November, and they give me peace and serenity in my life. With the advantage of using a headset, no one else has to hear your musical choices.

My love for Christmas carols goes back to my childhood when I was small. In St. Brigid’s School, we sang them, and as a young pianist I loved to play them.

And at home, we sang them as small children -- and teenagers.

Some of these are obviously Christian, but others like “White Christmas” are not. However, I agree with the editor of a religious paper who says that we should keep the carols alive into the new year, and that families should keep up their Christmas trees into 2022.

Because of his religious beliefs, my dad would never take down our Christmas tree until after Jan. 6. Many today quit listening to carols after Dec. 25 and take down their trees before Jan. 1.

Should I say, “Bah, Humbug”? I just watched the movie earlier this week with George C. Scott as Ebenezer Scrooge and realize that transformations can take place with Christmas.

Jim McDermott, S.J.

Rev. Jim McDermott is a priest who belongs to the Jesuit order, the one which Pope Francis joined more than six decades ago. He is also an editor at America Magazine, and he is the one who started me thinking about this,

Let me be clear, I understand Christmas Carol Fatigue. At this point, I honestly think it deserves a place in the American Psychiatric Association’s official manual of mental disorders and health care benefits for anyone who begins to lose their mind when they wander into a Walmart or Costco and hear “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” on repeat. “He sees us when we’re sleeping, he knows when we’re awake”? What kind of nightmare is this?

But to write off carols on Dec. 26, full stop, is like saying you are done with birthdays once you turn 21. Yes, you’ve had a big day, but you’re also missing the best stuff. (Life really does get better as you get older) …

And I’ll tell you something else: I think that can be true whether we are talking about a Christian Christmas carol or a more secular Christmas tune sung by Burl Ives or Natalie Cole. I don’t need the words to involve Jesus and a manger to be transported into a space of quiet and meditation; mostly I just need something a little wistful.

There’s one more reason why you should feel free to listen to Christmas carols after Christmas, and it’s a pretty important one: because they are nice, and you deserve nice things. One of my biggest holiday takeaways from the pandemic was: “If something helps you, it’s worth continuing to do.”

I put up Christmas lights and a tree in mid-November last year, and I did not take them down until I moved out of my residence in May 2021. And you know what? Having them up really did make things better.

Jim McDermott, “The case for listening to Christmas Carols after December

25,” America Magazine, December 25, 2021

Peace and serenity

I agree that the major reason for my listening to them is the peace of mind and serenity that I receive from them. Whether they are versions played by the London Symphony or secular tunes done by Bing Crosby, Andy Williams, Perry Como, or Celine Dion, they provide that for me.

As a follower of Christ, I believe that he was the “Prince of Peace” who was brought into this world to give us direction and give us both peace of mind and world peace. Many Christians ignore that aspect of this and focus simply on his becoming a victim of capital punishment for standing up for his spiritual beliefs.

Christmas music brings that back to me -- so I will continue to listen to the carols well into the New Year.

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