Mixtape 2: He Is Born

Muxtape CassetteI hesitate to mention this because I feel like such a whiner, but I just can’t seem to get into Christmas this year. Jesus, shopping, family, friends, baking – whatever Christmas represents, I’m not feelin’ it.

We’re not traveling this year, and even though I love visiting family, I look forward to the years we spend in our own home with our own traditions. We usually head out to get a tree and do all our Christmas decorating on the weekend after Thanksgiving.

It didn’t happen this year, and now I fear I’m missing my window of opportunity. As I sit in my darkened basement alone, thinking about it, certain factors come to mind.

Death. Christmas is a season of life and new birth, but I feel heavy. I lost my dog a few weeks ago, and four Christmases ago my family anticipated losing Gordy at any time. He finally passed on January 3rd.

Lethargy. Several months ago I became discouraged by one injury after another, and quit going to the gym. I told myself I would replace running with some other exercise, but frankly I’m being a big pouter. I love to run – as much for the mental stimulation as for the physical. I do not move my body anymore, and I feel like a 95 year old woman.

Balance. I feel buried by projects and Things Undone. On Friday I treated myself to an hour of writing – which refreshed me beyond words – but otherwise I have not engaged in things that re-create me. I work, I waste time, and I flop into bed exhausted. The Pile seems never-ending.

Sanity. Perhaps I’m in a funk. Other than the heaviness of remembering Loss, I have a good life. I’m the healthiest I’ve been emotionally and spiritually, Bryan and I are groovy, and I’m aware of the many material and relational blessings of my life. I really have nothing to complain about, which leads me to consider (mild) depression. I normally take a regimen of herbal supplements to combat The Blues, and I sort of keep forgetting to take my pills. I get the feeling I should really try harder at that.

I’m not sure why all of this came out as I sat down to write about my Christmas Mix – it’s not exactly a festive introduction. But this mix makes me smile, and the process of putting it together busied the half of my brain that needed to be busied so I could ponder all this sorrow I feel with the other half of my brain.

As I listen to this mix over and over, I’m reminded of how much I love O Come, O Come, Emmanuel. Of all the verses available, I find it curious Sufjan Stevens chose to record the ones he did. It seems to fit my mood right now, and I find comfort in the repeating refrain of Rejoice! Rejoice! Rejoice!

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Rejoice!
Rejoice! Rejoice! Rejoice!

O come, Thou Day-spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Rejoice!
And ransom captive Israel
Rejoice! Rejoice! Rejoice!
Rejoice! Rejoice! Rejoice!

It doesn’t strike me until just now that in the song Israel is rejoicing for the Messiah they have yet to know. They are rejoicing in the hope of things unseen. I think this is where I settle, lately, during the Darker Days. I settle into quiet contemplation, feeling lonely and sorrowful, but with rejoicing hope that I know my savior will carry me through to the other side.

In that respect, depression has never felt so good.

For this reason, I purposely chose to end the mix with Emmylou Harris’ There’s a Light. I want the last song echoing in my mind to be a reminder of the Light in the darkness, of the Rain in the desert, of the Keeper of our hearts.

There’s a light, there’s a light in the darkness
And the black of the night cannot harm us
We can trust not to fear for our comfort is near
There’s a light, there’s a light in the darkness

It will rain it will rain in the desert
In the cracks of the plain there’s a treasure
Like the thurst of the seed we will await we believe
It will rain it will rain in the desert

We will fly we will fly we will let go
To this world we will die but our hearts know
We’ll see more on that side when the door opens wide
We will fly we will fly we will fly we will fly
We will all go

Merry Christmas, and I hope you enjoy my special Christmas mix, He Is Born.

How do you feel at Christmas time? Do you easily rejoice and make merry? What revs you up to celebrate? Do you struggle with fatigue and depression? What inspires you in the darkness?

3 thoughts on “Mixtape 2: He Is Born”

  1. I know I struggle with Christmas memories every year – one thing that helped put me in the mood was our Thanksgiving trip to Leavenworth. I seem to have to have one trigger event, whether it be a snow trip to Westlake Mall (and it varies each year, never the same) to get me in the mood. Karen helps me get excited as the lights & tree still make her help me with my tree & hers now. I think the snow makes us step back & have to slow down & start thinking: what am I doing all this for? Then when I think I have it tough, I learn my nephew’s lovely wife went to pick up her dad in Gig Harbor last Thursday to Christmas shop & found he had committed suicide! Such an awful & sad memory for her now forever. But Jen, we all struggle with the bittersweet time of Christmas but so glad that baby gives us the Hope we so desparetely need in this world. I think we are in particularly tough times right now in this world.
    Thanks for your Christmas mix-Emmy Lou also sings a song called “All My Tears” which Pastor Tim has on his Easter c.d. Have you heard it? I played it all the way up to Marysville to see my dying mom last week & helped me cope with her impending loss. Love, Jeanie

  2. Hi Jen, thanks for sharing this. I sometimes get frustrated with myself at Christmastime. It’s such a joyous time of year and yet so easy to get distracted, self-absorbed and stressed. Thanks for the reminder in that hope, that future we’ll have together. Praise the Lord!

  3. Thanks. I get a mixture of stressed, mildly depressed and cranky around Christmas. I think it has to do with my way to high expectations of a Martha Stewart magazine layout Christmas and wanting perfect children and parents to go with! I’d love to know what herbal stuff you take. You can e mail me if you like.

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