I was happy to hear that CHYM FM was going to play nothing but Christmas music from Dec. 1st on. Christmas is my favourite time of year, and I love singing along to all the classic Christmas Carols.
I wasn't able to tune in all that often, just a few minutes here and there, but it was often enough that I noticed something funny. Tonight on the way home from work I was able to tune in for a full hour, and I confirmed my suspicions.
CHYM FM has taken the Christ out of Christmas. All of the songs they are playing are secular, with no mention of Jesus or God. This bothers me for some reason. This year I was actually able to slow down, and am full into the Christmas spirit. Different attitude maybe, but this year it's not sneaking up on me.
At night when I put my sons to bed, each of them ask me to sing Christmas songs to them. Even though we are an atheist family, I sing Away in A Manger, Joy To The World and many others with just a small sense of irony. But these were the songs of my youth, and I love the musicality and flowing rhythms.
I will admit, it is a touch of nostalgia for me. The feelings the Christian carols bring out in me are a product of my whole upbringing, including those years in church. While I left the faith, I have no ill feelings or feelings of antipathy towards the church. My memories are happy ones, and it is those feelings of happiness that I mine when I listen to the religious Christmas carols.
So it is that personal loss that I felt when listening to CHYM FM. While it was holiday music, it wasn't the music that I can participate in. I'm listening as a former theist outsider to a secular Christmas broadcast.
When I sing to my sons, I know that as much as I try, I can't just give them my happy memories of Christmas through the carols I sing. While it is a shared moment that we all enjoy, my enjoyment stems from a completely different set of experiences that my children will never know. They are experiencing Christmas differently than I, but I wholly expect them to have their own happy memories. So in a few years, they will be secular observers of Christmas in their own personal way. I would not be surprised if they start to mock the Christian message once they understand the meaning of the lyrics. They won't know why, but my smile will be tinged with sadness when that happens.
I don't know if I can fully embrace the secular side of Christmas. This is still a magical time for me, even though Christ is out of my life, I can't quite yet pull the Christ out of Christmas.
Maybe when we start referring to it as a Winter Solstice holiday I will be there.
But not yet my friends, not yet.