OK, I admit it: I love to listen to Christmas songs this time of year.
I’ll leave it to you to determine if that makes me a bad Jew or a worse rabbi, but what can I say? I’ve got a major weakness for the ol’ seasonal standards.
Now I’m not talking about Christmas carols or overtly religious hymns (nor do I mean X-mas novelty kitsch like “Barking Dog Jingle Bells” or “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer.”) No, I’m really, truly a sucker for those aching, melancholy Christmas ballads.
I’m sure you know the ones – they actually come in various sub-genres. There are the “It’s Christmas and I’m Sad Because We’ve Broken Up” songs (i.e. “Christmas/Baby Please Come Home” or “All I Want For Christmas Is You.”) Then there are the “It’s Christmas and I’m Not Able To Make it Home” songs (i.e. “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” or “White Christmas”) and there’s the “This May Be the Last Christmas We Ever Spend Together” songs (i.e. “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”)
Is it perverse or at all sacreligious for a rabbi to be confessing his love for songs such as these? I dunno, don’t you think there’s something of a Jewish quality to them? Maybe it’s their quasi-exilic yearning (not to mention the fact that most of them were written by Jews anyhow.)
So that’s my seasonal guilty pleasure confession. And lest you judge me too quickly here, just take the test yourself. Check out James Taylor’s version of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” or “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” as sung by Sarah McLachlan. (Man, that last line gets me every time…)