This year, I’ve found myself more anxious and more out of sorts than I normally am. I’ve needed to address the mom stress directly, especially going into the holiday season. I work on making gratitude a lifestyle (more than even a practice.) I know that gratitude literally changes our brains and improves our outlook. It gives us rose-colored glasses, if you will. I meditate. I breathe. I journal. I manage expectations – my own and others’. And I use music.
My musical abilities extend to sometimes singing in a church choir if there is a strong alto I can follow and being a really good listener of music. I’ve gained a deep appreciation – a testimony, even – of the power of music.
Way before I knew there was research on the power of music to affect our minds and moods, I had discovered for myself that my houseful of small children acted differently when there were different types of music playing. With a houseful of kids, I needed the most calm possible for all of us. I ended up with two favorite genres – New Age (think Enya, David Lanz or Yanni) and religious (think The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square, Amy Grant or Hilary Weeks). (My tastes have expanded to include additional artists in the same genre, some Disney songs, and the music from Hamilton.)
There is a special category, though, for Christmas music. I love Christmas music. I often start listening before Halloween. I love a world that, for a few weeks at least, focuses on Jesus. I love songs that celebrate the baby born in a manger more than 2000 years ago. I love songs that invite us to put ourselves in the place of the wise men or the innkeeper or a young mother pregnant for the first time.
Natalie Grant’s “I Believe” shares that Christ was “more than a fable.”
The Wiseman saw
The baby boy the angels
Called the son of God
The great I am
Born to take away my sins
Through nailed pierced hands
Emmanuel has come
“Candlelight Carol” always reminds me of those first tender days with a brand-new baby.
How do you capture the wind on the water?
How do you count all the stars in the sky?
How do you measure the love of a mother
Or how can you write down a baby’s first cry?
Candlelight, angel light, firelight and star-glow
Shine on his cradle till breaking of dawn
Silent night, holy night, all is calm and all is bright
Angels are singing; the Christ child is born
And Mary’s Lullaby? I had a 12-day old baby one Christmas which really caused me to reflect on Mary and how she must have felt.
All mine in your loveliness, Baby, all mine;
All mine in your holiness, Baby Divine.
Sing on, herald angels, in chorus sublime;
Sing on and adore, for tonight you are mine.
The wise men are coming to worship their king.
The shepherds are kneeling, their homage to bring.
Out yonder, the star over Judah will keep;
No harm can befall thee, then sleep, Baby, sleep.
Oh, let me enfold thee, my baby, tonight;
While legions are singing in joyous delight.
A new star has risen to hail thee divine,
For you are a king, but tonight you are mine.
You might see a pattern here. I still love religious and peaceful, instrumental music but I have a special place in my heart for religious and peaceful Christmas music. I love it so much I created a playlist on YouTube. It’s the only thing on my YouTube channel, but I visit it often.
It must be working because I find myself humming at random times during the day. I am happier going into the last 2 weeks before Christmas than most years (it might also have something to do with putting fewer expectations on myself, like not sewing Christmas pajamas this year). “Still, still, still, one can hear the falling snow, for all is hushed the world is sleeping.” Ahhh. Beautiful.
Oh, and no, I do not think Mary knew her baby boy would one day walk on water. She too had the opportunity to learn line upon line what it meant to be the Messiah’s mother.