Wednesday, December 23, 2015

warm bland fuzzies for all

Starbucks and Kohl's Department Stores have used the same song celebrating "the holidays."  From the Times-Union story:

The song, which starts with "This holiday, I'm coming home to you," is not specific to Christmas or Hanukkah and it has plenty of oohs and aahs so the commercial's narrator has space to speak – all calculated to make the song more marketable to advertisers.

This as opposed to specific holidays like, y'know, Christmas or Hanukkah.  But hey, it sells coffee--and obviously the young singer featured hopes it brings new musical opportunities.

Local angle:  the musician creating and recording this song graduated from my institution, The College of Saint Rose.  The College itself seems to follow the same sort of bland secularized holiday feel the song celebrates.  On the other hand, the same college also produced Father Matthew Venuti, one of the Anglican Ordinariate's first priests.

Thus an on-going, and beautiful, even as that beauty often emerges amid anguish and suffering (spiritual and physical), paradox of Christianity:  that particular commitments--heck, let's call them what they are, conversions--appear amid life's predominant, bland, undifferentiated reality.  Thus the Catholic tradition extols some of the greatest spiritual autobiographies:  Augustine's Confessions, Newman's Apologia pro vita sua, Merton's Seven Storey Mountain, and Day's The Long Loneliness.  More recently converts such as Scott Hahn, Jennifer Fulwiler, and Patrick Madrid's Surprised by Truth series detail new versions of this same story.

Something similar works in the time-tested Christmas favorites.  When played endlessly before Thanksgiving, the songs--particularly the secular ones like "Walking in a Winter Wonderland"--can, for all their imagery, lose some of their appeal.  What makes Christmas music Christmas is, of course, the Christian particularity. Warm fuzzies can take us only so far. We can come home any time during the year, but only once during the year does the joyful news that Christ is born ring true.

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