My mind woke up running song lyrics this morning. This is not unusual. Friends and family can attest that they can tell what kind of mood I’m in by what song I am humming. The Beach Boys is my go-to when I am anticipating a fun day (“Wipeout!”). Mike looks forward to hearing me hum “I’m an old cowhand, from the Rio Grand,” which for some reason I always hum when I am thinking happy thoughts about my husband (yippee kai yo kai yay!). An aria from Carmen often pops out (e.g. Habenera aka The rebellious bird) when I am busily engaged in my garden. I don’t preselect them. They just come to me. Sometimes, even I don’t know what kind of mood I am in until I pay attention to what I am humming.
This morning’s lyrics began with Julie Andrews—“raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens.” This is not necessarily one of my favorite songs, so I thought about it for a moment, wondering why that particular song should come up on my internal juke box. Ah ha! It wasn’t about the snowflakes on eyelashes or bright paper packages tied up with string—it was about my favorite things! In moments when the news seems all dark, when injustice seems to be winning, when getting an allergy attack makes me wonder if I am about to succumb to Covid—I need some playfulness, some humor, some joy .
As I sat drinking my coffee, another tune popped up. I could remember the melody, but for the life of me, I could remember the lyrics. It was something about needing a little bit of something. I listed off things that I felt the need of—humor, whimsey, hope, laughter. Then I looked up songs that had lyrics that include “a little bit of…” You are probably already ahead of me here— but in case you haven’t pulled up the memory yet, it was a song by Johnny Mathis, and it goes like this…
Haul out the holly
Put up the tree before my spirit falls again
Fill up the stocking
I may be rushing things, but deck the halls again now
For we need a little Christmas Right this very minute…
It made me laugh. I am definitely NOT READY for Christmas yet! But then I read the rest of the lyrics:
For I’ve grown a little leaner Grown a little colder
Grown a little sadder Grown a little older
And I need a little angel Sitting on my shoulder
Need a little Christmas now
For we need a little music
Need a little laughter
Need a little singing, ringing through the rafter And we need a little snappy
Happy ever after
Need a little Christmas now.
Huh. Maybe I do need a little of what Christmas brings. A little music. A little laughter. A little singing (—scratch that, humming is safer). And definitely a little snappy happy ever after…
It would be easy when life gets hard to just wrap myself up in hopeful song lyrics and hermit in my own cave. I am not suggesting that any of us do that. But, on the other hand, I believe that there are moments when we need to give ourselves permission to allow our eyes to settle onto an enormous cat trying to fit into a tiny box, listen with joy at a baby laughing with her whole body, share pictures of our silly pets, hum Christmas carols in August. I invite us to allow our holy imaginations to dwell on those “favorite things” that create room around our hearts, our mind, our bodies. Perhaps Emily Dickenson says it the best:
Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul,
and sings the tune without words. and never stops at all.