“All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth; my two tooth front teeth; my two front teeth.” Remember that song? Those words keep popping into my head as Christmas approaches. Released a few years before I was born, the words are a reminder of Christmases past. It’s a song that made its way into our house each year around the holidays. I can picture my father at the organ and my mother singing lyrics to his jazzed up, big band, version of that song.
My father, a musician by heart and an accountant by trade, made sure our home was filled with music, spending most evenings playing one of many mastered instruments – clarinet, saxophone, piano, or organ. And when he could talk me into it, we played duets, with me on flute or piano and him compensating for and enhancing my limited musical talent, so it was fun for both of us.
My mother, a Christmas enthusiast by any measure, insisted that after Thanksgiving the selected song menu in the Schindler house was limited to Christmas, since she couldn’t get them played by Dad the rest of year. Hence, for this limited time, my father turned away from his swing, jazz, and big band favorites and played traditional carols, popular Christmas songs, and holiday medleys, all sprinkled with his interpretation and enhanced musical flair.
But, I digress into warm cocooned memories, when fleeting ones around this particular childhood song still remind me that when I was the age of not having front teeth, I thought this a very silly song. I couldn’t imagine how anyone would only want one thing – to have their permanent teeth grow in – during a magical season when you could wish for something special … something big … something more. And while you might not get what you wanted, you could still believe it might come true.
Decades later, with that tune permanently affixed to my brain, the words I’m filling in aren’t about front teeth. I started this season with “All I want for Christmas is” … to sell our house. But then I realized that’s not true, I want something bigger.
What I want this Christmas is renewed belief. When we live in a world where children are killed at their desks, irrational fears are fueled by fact-less rhetoric, and political compromise is viewed as a negative, I find that my optimism is being replaced with cynicism; my idealism trampled by disillusionment; and my hopes for a better future dwindling.
And yet, all I want for Christmas is to believe, once again, that it’s possible to change the current trajectory of this world we share; possible to collectively seek solutions to shared human, societal, political, and environmental problems; and possible that we will find in the deeper messages of this season, no matter where we live, how we pray or don’t pray, who we love, what language we speak, or what color our skin, a thread of hope that future generations can live with equality and opportunity for everyone, because we never gave up believing in or working toward a better world.
In the big scheme of things, may this season remind, nudge, and recommit us to the message Christmas brings – the message of love.