It’s Been a Silent Night

When singer Amy Grant released “Tennessee Christmas” in 2016 it’d been years since she recorded a holiday collection. In fact, her platinum-level “A Christmas Album” arrived way back in 1983; her triple-platinum “Home for Christmas” in 1992. “Tennessee Christmas” didn’t achieve platinum, gold, or anything else for that matter.  As my brother said at the time, “She never should’ve done it.” He’s right. Amy should’ve released just “I Need a Silent Night” and called it good.

Amy Grant can still pen lyrics (even if her voice isn’t as strong as it used to be).  “I Need a Silent Night” asks us to find the true meaning of Christmas in the midst of the inevitable commercial distractions.  Instead of “December traffic” and “Christmas rush” and “Shopping and buying and standing forever in line”, Amy asks:

I need a silent night, a holy night
To hear an angel voice through the chaos and the noise
I need a midnight clear, a little peace right here
To end this crazy day with a silent night

As if we’ve been granted Amy’s wish (ha), this season has been remarkably placid.  The message of Advent is always “prepare” and that’s what we’re doing.  It’s just – unlike most years – we’re not using words like “rush” and “chaos”.  We’re experiencing more of a “silent night” instead.

Our Christmas prep never begins until after Thanksgiving (I stand on holiday principles here) but by the following Saturday I was eagerly unpacking the decorations and streaming holiday tunes.  More importantly, I also found myself saying “yes” to just about every reason for the season:

  • Since we can’t have in-person services our church offered Advent wreaths to build and display in whatever room you “go to church” in at home.  We asked for a wreath as soon as they were available.
  • A family involved in our local 4-H advertised festive bags of scented pine cones as a fundraiser for their activities.  We bought two bags and they delivered them straight to our door.  There’s nothing that says “Christmas” like the tiny voice of a five-year-old saying, “Thank you, Mr. Wilson!”
  • Our church set up a virtual giving tree where you can pick presents from a list, buy them, and return them to the church for distribution to needy families.  I bought six.
  • We’ve been baking up a kitchen storm so we decided to put together plates of cookies for our neighbors and deliver them.  Front doors were opened cautiously, to which we said, “Well, this may be the only chance we get to see you face-to-face this year.  Merry Christmas!”
  • We’ll be having drive-in Christmas Eve services this year so our church put out a big bin of ornaments, asking us to decorate them and put them on trees surrounding the parking lot.  I grabbed several.
  • Starbucks moves to Christmas drinks and goodies shortly after Halloween.  There’s this unspoken opportunity to “pay it backwards” by taking care of the car behind you in the drive-thru, and then speeding off to remain anonymous.  I’ve been doing this for weeks.
  • Colorado Springs advertises a Christmas For Kids effort where you’re assigned a needy child’s Christmas list.  You buy the gifts, wrap them up, and pass them on to case workers who make sure the kids get them in time for Christmas.  I sponsored two.

Most of these Christmastime gestures (and why should they only happen at Christmas, right?) would not find room in our “normal years”.  We’d be rushing about trying to find one last gift, throwing up Christmas lights and decorations, and hastily preparing our cards to put in the mail.  We’d be wrapping presents ’til well past midnight on Christmas Eve.  Yet this year we’re completely organized and ready, including all those meaningful extras I mentioned above.

Let me “wrap” (ha) with one more holiday task we completed earlier than usual: decorating our tree.  Christmas trees must’ve been in high demand (or short supply) this year because our local lot only had one left in the 10′-12′ range we prefer.  It’s tall and thin (kind of like you see in Whoville in the original “Grinch” movie).  It’s so tall our angel at the top seems poised in the heavens, which is wonderfully appropriate this year.  She was the only decor on the tree all of last Sunday before we added everything else the following night.  So now our tree boasts the usual organized chaos of lights and ornaments.  But it’s only the angel I see.  She’s watching over us and giving us exactly what we need this year: a silent night, a holy night.

This post is in memory of Marion.

11 thoughts on “It’s Been a Silent Night

  1. This sounds like wonderful, old-fashioned Christmas cheer to me Dave. It is only me here as I have no family, so Christmas is quiet, but I think … no, I know, I should have put up some decorations to instill a little cheer here. I like all your giving ideas … they are thoughtful and unselfish, the best part of the Christmas season. My mom used to love to bake and made different cookies every day for a few weeks and then made plates for the elderly neighbors, the guy at the gas station (in those days he owned the place and pumped our gas … full serve then) and miscellaneous and sundry folks my father and I put in requests for, that we worked with. We have a local family in a nearby city who laments that for the first time in many years, COVID is putting a kibosh on their annual tradition. They originally decided to forego exchanging gifts amongs their extended family and instead pool their money to organize a Christmas dinner for those less fortunate. The media learned of the story, and suddenly organizations and restaurant owners donated food to be shared at this dinner. The Domskis feed 400 people every Christmas Day. This year has to take a pause but hopefully they’ll be back at it next year. Enjoy the merriment and the warmth plus all the warm fuzzy feelings of Christmas.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a story, Linda – the Domskis and their effort to feed the hungry. Our giving gestures pale in comparison. I think what I’ll remember most about this Christmas is not the day itself but rather the preparation leading up to it. The whole “it’s more blessed to give than to receive”. In that respect, the meaning of Christmas changes as we grow older (and wiser).

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