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I really like Christmas

12/24/2013 @ 6:46am

“I really like Christmas. It’s sentimental, I know, but I still really like it.”

Those aren’t my lines. Tim Minchin, an Australian comedian and singer, wrote them in 2009. They’re from his song, “White Wine in the Sun.” If you haven’t heard it, go to iTunes or YouTube, or wherever you go to hear to music you’ve never heard before and give it a listen, all the way to the end. It’s the best Christmas song ever by a nonbeliever, if that makes sense.

The song is about going home for Christmas, going from the raw winter of London back to the sun and summer of an Australian Christmas. The reason he likes Christmas is obvious.

“I’ll be seeing my dad, my brother and sisters, my gran and my mum. They’ll be drinking white wine in the sun…”

It’s a much longer song and really very clever. There are all sorts of verses about all the things he doesn’t believe in, but toward the end he becomes very serious indeed.

“And you my baby girl, my jet-lagged infant daughter, you’ll be handed round the room like a puppy at a primary school…”

If that line doesn’t make you laugh, and cry, you’ve never seen a new baby bundled into a houseful of relatives who’ve never made her acquaintance. The eager, greedy love that goes with that child from embrace to embrace is, I’d have to guess, universal and a joy to behold.

“And you won’t understand, but you will learn someday, that wherever you are and whatever you face, these are the people who’ll make you feel safe in this world, my sweet blue-eyed girl.”

This Christmas I don’t know if we’ll be drinking white wine…eggnog is more likely. I’m confident we won’t be sitting out on the patio in the sun, not here on the northern Prairies.  And unlike Mr. Minchin, I am kind of religious, and I do take that part of Christmas pretty seriously. There won’t be shrimp on the barbie; instead, oyster stew and ham will make an appearance (an occasional request for lutefisk  has been stoutly ignored for the past couple decades).  There are a million ways Christmas at our house is different than at the Minchin household.  

On the other hand, I know some blue-eyed girls I try to keep safe, and some brown-eyed ones and even some hazel eyes that I view quite fondly. There’s also a little boy and a not-so-little boy. Actually, I’m willing to take a shot at keeping all of them safe, no matter what color their eyes are or, for that matter, who they call family.  We’ve experienced a Christmas in which our 20-year-old was 9,000 miles from home, and even in a good year, our family is spread across the globe. There’s a reason the song makes me laugh, and cry, almost every time I hear it, because in most of the ways that matter, Christmas at Mr. Minchin’s house is a great deal like Christmas at mine.

I think you should pour yourself a glass of whatever you’re drinking, pull a loved one into the shelter of your arm, and listen to the song.  

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