BY: RICHARD HASKELL
Here we are, well into December and the holiday season is really here. It’s been around for a while, of course. As usual, the Halloween pumpkin decorations were hardly packed away when the giant Santas, the garlands and the holly came out, decorating the department stores and just about everywhere else. I heard Michael Bublé crooning It’s Beginning to Look a Lot like Christmas on November 8th.
Music is a big part of the holiday season, and much of the commercial variety is upbeat and exuberant in spirit. We are urged to ‘deck the halls’ and go for sleigh rides as we spend time ‘walking in a winter wonderland.’
Ideally, the end of the year should be a time for spiritual renewal, a period set aside to pause and reflect, and with any luck, to reconnect with family and friends. Yet so much of what surrounds us doesn’t exactly inspire mirth or good will. Retailers ask us to buy, buy and buy some more, yet too many of us are on fixed incomes, underemployed or unemployed.
For those of us who are dealing with the challenges of brain injury – be it our own or of a family member – the holiday period is an immensely challenging time. The cold and dark month of December demands much from us, a great deal more than many of us are capable of – or willing – to do.
The poet William Congreve once wrote that “music has charms to soothe the savage breast” but for many people, the traditional music surrounding the period has little meaning.
As an alternative, here’s a list of songs that may help you get through until the brighter days of January begin.
Get Me Through December – written by Gordie Sampson and Fred Lavery, and preformed here by Alison Krause, the lyrics speak of the challenges we face during this cold month and a hope for better times ahead.
I believe I can Fly – R. Kelly’s song about believing in yourself, no matter what.
New York City Christmas – Rob Thomas of Matchbox Twenty fame penned this song about the ongoing need for peace and compassion in the big city.
Those Silent Nights – a song written especially for those who have recently lost loved ones by Jacob Colgan and Aileeah Colgan.
Find Your Voice – Sarah McLachlan’s advice at finding pleasure in simple things.
Angel – Because McLachlan is good enough to play twice.
Strength, Courage and Wisdom – From India Arie’s first album, Acoustic Soul, this song will make you feel like your strength, courage and wisdom have really been inside of you all along.
It’s Gonna be Alright – Sara Groves is a Christian singer known for writing powerful lyrics. In this song, which is non-denominational, Groves gives hope to folks who are going through hard times.
Little Wonders – Well before the Frozen theme song appropriated the phrase, Rob Thomas created this song about ‘letting go’, (ironically) for another Disney movie, Meet the Robisons.
True Colours – Cyndi Lauper’s gay rights and anti-hate crimes anthem, written by Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly, and was originally a tribute to Steinberg’s mother. Proof that True Colours is all about unconditional love.
Sound of hope project – You’ll want to find out more about these amazing artists who hail from American Samoa after listening to this beautiful colaboration. Written and produced by whitcombemedia, according to vidinfo.org, this song is dedicated to all the people of the Pacific Islands.
Never give up – Whitney Houston’s motivational song, released after her 2012 death, is as inspirational and is it is a bittersweet, final message from this amazing singer.
My advice to those who find themselves a little overwhelmed by it all is to slow down, nothing can be so pressing that it has to be done immediately. Take time to stop and enjoy the decorations – they’ll be gone soon enough.
Stop and give some change to a homeless person, or buy a copy of Outreach. Practice kindness in public – open a door for someone, or offer a seat on the subway. Reconnect with friends and family – people are more important than things, and should be treasured. Take a moment to reflect on those no longer with us – if it means shedding a tear, so be it- they deserve it. If you don’t accomplish everything you set out to do, don’t beat yourself up – we’re only human.