Silver & Gold
Christmas is a drag. Year after year, winter upon winter, we find ourselves “going through the motions of merriment,” possessed by a fervent celestial fever, conquered, squandered, beaten, broken, reduced to that clammy, pre-pubescent spoiled brat kid of our childhood, throwing a fit on Santa’s lap, faced with the hard-candy facts of reality, knowing for certain we will never really get what want for Christmas.
Or in life, for that matter.
This is the true horror-show catharsis of Christmas: the existential emptiness that perseveres in the heart of modern man as he recklessly pursues his search for happiness and comes up empty handed.
And yet, against all odds, we continue to sing our songs of Christmas. If Christmas is the holiday of “worst case scenarios” then its carol has become its most corrupted currency, intoning rhapsody and romance with mistletoe and Marshmallow Fluff, placating the public with indelible melodies propagating a message of peace, love, and venture capitalism.
So what is it about Christmas music that continues to agitate our aging heartstrings? Is it the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen? Or the boundless Potential Energy inherent in this bastard holiday so fitfully exploited, adapted, and confounded with no regard for decency?
Maybe this: Christmas music does justice to a criminal world, marrying sacred and profane, bellowing obtuse prophecies of a Messiah in the very same blustery breath as a candy-coated TV-jingle advertising a string of lights and a slice of fruitcake. Gloria!
Who can save us from the infidels of Christmas commodity? Look no further, tired shopper, for your hero arrives as the diligent songwriter Sufjan Stevens: army of one, banjo in one hand, drum machine in the other, holed up in his room, surrounded by hymnals, oratorios, music charts, sacred harp books, photo-copied Readers Digest Christmas catalogs—all the weaponry of Yuletide incantations—singing his barbaric yawp above the snow-capped rooftops.
His song is love; his song is hope; his song is peace. His song conjures the fruitcake world of his own imagination with steadfast pursuit of the inexplicable bliss of Christmas Promises—“Gloria in excelsis deo”—summoning the company of angels, the helper elves, the shepherds keeping flock, the innkeepers, the coupon-clippers, the marathon runners, the cross-country skiers, the bottom feeders, the grocery store baggers, the bridge and tunnel drivers, the construction workers, the ice cream makers, the toll booth workers, the street sweepers, the single mothers, the custodians, the rich and the poor, the walking dead, the community of saints, the Virgin Mary, the Holy Spirit, the Prince of Persia, and all the invisible hosts of heaven to participate in this absurd cosmic adventure, pursuing holly-jolly songs of hope and redemption with a sacred heart for the love of the holidays, for the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.
1. Five CD EPs (Gloria, I Am Santa’s Helper, Christmas Infinity Voyage, Let It Snow, Christmas Unicorn)
2. Christmas stickers
3. Temporary tattoos (non-toxic & safe for children)
4. A paper ornament (self-assembly with directions)
5. An apocalyptic pull-out poster
6. Song lyrics and chord charts (sing along with your friends and enemies)
7. Hallucinogenic photographs and psychedelic graphic design (by Sufjan Stevens, drug-free since 1975)
8. Extensive liner notes (essays by Sufjan Stevens and Pastor Vito Aiuto)