Help build community Monday

Published 9:52 pm Wednesday, December 15, 2010

There’s a running joke in the newsroom about my earphones and music. I use the earphones to block out the rest of the world to concentrate. The music is another matter. Most people don’t like what I choose. That’s OK. I like it lively and loud most of the time.

It’s one of the reasons “Joy to the World” is one of my favorite Christmas carols. For those who remember Dick Clark’s dance show, you could say, “It has a good beat and you can bounce to it.”

But the lyrics (yes, I listen to the lyrics of a song and if I can’t understand them, I look them up. It comes from growing up with some of the best poets of the late 20th century — Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Arlo Guthrie, Leonard Cohen and the Indigo Girls).

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The other night a group of us talked about what this Christmas music means to us. For non-religious, I’m given into Joni Mitchell’s “River,” a sad folk ballad that wraps the melancholy with hope and the standard “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas,” has always been at the top of the list — mainly because when you’ve spent the greater part of your life in the Deep South you don’t see many a white Christmas.

Other favorites were “Deck the Halls,” “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and the song from “The Grinch that Stole Christmas.”

Having spent my formative years in the house of a Baptist minister, we were more familiar with the Christmas songs rather than the songs of advent. Although, advent brings along some favorites, “O Come, O Come Emanuel,” which almost seems a cry for some sort of order in an out-of-order world.

While “Joy to the World” is an upbeat favorite, but my eyes fill with tears when I hear “O Come All Ye Faithful,” another clarion for community. Sometimes that overwhelming emotion comes from a sorrow at the lack of community and the resulting struggles that come with it.

So here’s the deal. I’ll be in the office all day Monday, Dec. 20, beginning at 10 a.m. and I’m inviting you to come and sing a verse of “Joy to the World” on video. Then, on Christmas Even, in a symbolic way of community building, we’ll post a video at of different people singing a piece of this song of sheer happiness and expectation of better things to come.

Please, join me. Bring an instrument if you wish. And, remember, it just has to be a “joyful noise.”