This year for my birthday, I received money toward purchasing a record player. After ordering the model I wanted, before it even arrived at my house, I curated a modest shortlist of vinyl for which I would keep my eye out.
One album that made the list was
A Very Kacey Christmas
from pop-country singer/songwriter Kacey Musgraves. With its translucent green pressing and timelessly retro-western vibe, I had dreams of it becoming our home's resident Christmas album for years to come. So, as soon as I set up my new turntable, I ordered
A Very Kacey Christmas
... in April. And because I'm not a crazy person, I waited the eight long months to drop the needle on that album. I am happy to report, two weeks into December the record is still spinning strong.
If you haven't heard the album, you really should give it a listen. Like any great Christmas album, it has plenty of classic tunes as well as a handful of originals. I enjoy all the new songs written for the album, but the standout for me is a track titled "Christmas Makes Me Cry." It stands out because it's beautiful, but also because it feels out-of-place, right in the middle of the album. It plays directly after the festive "Feliz Navidad" and is followed by "Mele Kalikimaka", which always reminds me of
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
. These two songs, which no one can take too seriously while singing, bookend some incredibly heartstring-tugging lyrics...
"Seems like everybody else is having fun
I wonder if I'm the only one
Who's broken heart still has broken parts just wrapped in pretty paper...
And they always say, 'Have a Happy Holiday'
And every year, I sincerely try
Oh, but Christmas, it always makes me cry"
"Christmas Makes Me Cry" is about the real presence of grief at Christmastime. And in a way, this song transforms the entire album into a metaphor for this kind of grief.
The first time you hear it, it sneaks up on you. One moment you're wishing everyone a merry Christmas from the bottom of your heart, and the next, out of nowhere, you're hit like a ton of bricks, left picking up the pieces of your holiday spirit, which everyone expects to be "green and bright." As for repeat listens, hearing the song, even though you're expecting it, doesn't necessarily get any easier. In fact, because you're expecting it, its presence looms over the whole experience. And when you do hear it again, there's a good chance it hits you in a way completely different than it did the last time.
If you're experiencing grief this Christmas, if joy is not your default setting this season, please know that you are not the only one, nor are you alone. On Sunday evening, three days after the raucous carol sing-along at Sola Coffee and a day before Good Shepherd's spirited staff Christmas party, a space will be created for those who grieve to sit in their grief at the Longest Night service, 5:30 pm in the sanctuary. Come, unwrap the pretty paper and be present with your true self. Share in the hope of Christ's coming, or at the very least, let us hope for you. And may you, and your grief, never feel out-of-place in Christ, the Good Shepherd.
Andrew Buck, Director of Cross-Generational Ministry