Last night, while walking home from work after a particularly long day, I happened to turn around and see my first batch of Christmas decorations. They weren’t anything special, nothing like the overdone decorations that can transform entire neighborhoods into amusement parks and use as much electricity as some small third world countries. These decorations were paltry, to say the least — really nothing more than a small, leafless tree covered in pink lights that was so pathetic, it made Charlie Brown’s tree look magnificent. But even so, it filled me with a small sense of comfort.
It’s been a long, tiring, and frankly, rather scary past few weeks, and here was this little pink tree, completely stark and naked, standing out like a little benediction, a harbinger of sorts against the cold October sky. Christmas seems to come earlier and earlier every year, regardless of whether or not winter is even in the air or not. Which typically means that the season’s crass materialism just gets here sooner than we’d like. But last night, staring at that little tree doing it’s best to shine light into the early night, I didn’t mind so much.
After all, isn’t that what Christmas is really about? That a great light finally blazed forth into this dark, bruised, fallen world of ours, a light in the form of an infant surrounded, not by kings and angels, but by shepherds, astrologers, and friendly beasts? The final and ultimate Gift that all of our gift-giving, regardless of consumerism, materialism, or any other “isms,” refers back to whether we realize it or not.
A tiny leafless tree, adorned with lights and barely holding its ground against the brittle October wind, seems like just the sort of mundane-yet-sublime image that one Mr. Sufjan Stevens would compose a song about — preferably an 8-minute epic replete with choir and 21-piece orchestra. In fact, I wouldn’t at all be surprised to hear one on his upcoming Songs For Christmas collection. Which, incidentally, the kind folks at Asthmatic Kitty is streaming in its entirety (requires QuickTime). Talk about starting the season off on the right foot. They’re even accepting pre-orders, which means you’ll be able to put it under your tree a few weeks early.
(Of course, listening to these lovely little songs here on Halloween will probably serve only to make the wait even more unbearable, so maybe those Asthmatic Kitty folks aren’t so kind after all.)
On a somewhat-related note, this being Halloween and all, Sufjan has posted a list of a his favorite horror(ible) movies, and there are a couple of, um, interesting choices.