The Secret of Christmas
We had many Christmas music albums growing up. Every time the Firestone or Goodyear companies put one out, or another compilation hit the stores, my dad (a self-described "Christmas-aholic") would get it. The first one home each evening would put a stack of LPs on the record player spindle and get it started.
We knew each version of the songs, which song by which artist followed which (we’d start singing or humming the next cut immediately after the previous one finished), and we even knew where to expect a skip in the record. The pops and crackles became as much a part of the song as the singer, the arrangement and the lyrics were.
We had our favorites, and we also laughed at some of the awful renditions. (You haven’t lived until you’ve suffered through John Wayne singing "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day". We love it just for how awful it is.) One of my dad’s favorite secular Christmas songs from our LP collection is this little-known song done by Bing Crosby, "The Secret of Christmas". He liked it so much that I remember one afternoon he sat us down in the living room and had us write down the lyrics (one kids listened to the first line and started writing what he heard while the next kid was listening to the second line, etc.). For a secular song, it really does a wonderful job of driving home the point that Christmas is not just a December 25th thing, and that one of the secrets of Christmas is not just smoothing things over at the end of the year, but it’s what you do the other 364 days that really matters.
Now, as a Christian, I have my own thoughts on how best to do this (and with who’s help I am able), but Christian or not, this is a song for everyone, and a message for us all.
It’s not the glow you feel when snow appears.
It’s not the Christmas card you’ve sent for years.
Not the joyful sound when sleigh bells ring,
Or the merry songs children sing.
That little gift you send on Christmas Day,
Will not bring back the friend you’ve turned away,
So may I suggest the secret of Christmas
Is not the things you do at Christmas time,
But the Christmas things you do all year through.
I found out recently that this song was done in a movie ("Say One For Me", 1959). This is a YouTube clip from the movie with Bing singing the tune. It’s not the version that was on our LP, but I like the video for this one better.
And, for those of you who know my dad, this is one of the reasons he’ll tell you "Merry Christmas" just about anytime; Christ came to redeem the whole year.
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