The Archdiocese of Detroit has launched an initiative asking Catholics to extend an invitation to…
Keeping Christmas with us all through the year
As a bonafide child of the 1980s, one of the staples of my childhood Christmas season was the 1978 special “Christmas Eve on Sesame Street.” First broadcast on PBS in December of that year, it aired regularly in my home every Christmas season via the magic of the VCR (kids of the 2000s, I’ll wait while you Google). We also had the record, which could be listened to while decorating cookies or gingerbread houses. (Thanks to the nostalgia boom, no Googling necessary for “record” at this time.)
The movie is a classic Muppet masterpiece, mixing a rather dubious plot about how Santa Claus may or may not fit down chimneys on Christmas Eve (thanks to Oscar the Grouch, the ever-anxious Big Bird is all a-flutter with anxiety over the corpulence of St. Nick) with a touching subplot based on O. Henry’s “The Gift of the Magi.”
But what really makes “Christmas Eve on Sesame Street” come alive and stay alive in the imagination is its music. Engaging, emotive and full of life, the songs wrap the entire production in a Christmas bow that, while secular, somehow still seems to capture some of the sacred joy of the season.
One of the most touching compositions that has stood the test of time, and which is especially pertinent as we approach the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, is “Keep Christmas with You All Through the Year,” which can only ever rightly be sung by Sesame Street staple Bob McGrath. The lyrics, moving in their own right, are made even more touching in the show when signed by a chorus of children as a real-life surprise for Bob from his colleague Linda, who is deaf. Here is a portion of the lyrics:
“Keep Christmas with you/ All through the year/ When Christmas is over/ You can keep it near. Think of this Christmas day/ When Christmas is far away/ Keep Christmas with you/ All through the year/ When Christmas is over/ Save some Christmas cheer/ These precious moments/ Hold them very dear/ And keep Christmas with you/ All through the year.
“Christmas means the spirit of giving/ Peace and joy to you/ The goodness of loving/ The gladness of living/ These are Christmas too.”
Though secular, the song offers a simple yet profound point of reflection for people of faith. We are used to boxing Christmas into a date on the calendar, or even into a season with carols, white vestments and poinsettias. But after we celebrate the birth of our savior and our king, the babe in Bethlehem does not exit stage left along with the drooping Christmas tree. He is to be born again in our hearts every day of every year. When we follow his commandments — especially to love the Lord, our God, with all of our heart, soul and mind, and to love our neighbor as ourselves — we welcome him into the world with the small actions of every day, praising, with the angels, all glory to God in the highest.
And so, with the return of work and school and routine, as we take down lights and box up ornaments, we are not to mourn the passing of the season of festivity. Instead, we are called to live out the Lord’s incarnation in the simple actions of every day. In doing so, we keep love, peace, joy and generosity — those most important gifts of Christmas — with us all through the year.
Gretchen R. Crowe is editorial director for periodicals at OSV. Follow her on Twitter @GretchenOSV.