It is officially the Christmas season. I am writing this a few weeks after Thanksgiving. For some, the Christmas season begins with the arrival of Santa Claus as the end of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. For others (including my wife), the Christmas season started at the stroke of midnight on Halloween night. You could find Christmas stuff for big club stores like Costco and Sam's Club as early as September.
Advent begins four weeks before Christmas Day for those in the church world. The modern cultural marker that truly ushers in the season is when radio stations start playing Christmas music. If you subscribe to Sirius XM, then you know about Holly. Holly is one of the most anticipated special music channels ever. It plays all the popular Christmas music. There are classic Christmas stations or religious Christmas hymns, but if you are looking for Elton John, Paul McCartney, Ariana Grande, or Kelly Clarkson, Holly is the channel for you.
I noticed something a few years ago as all the songs began to play one after another. Many of these songs talk about terrible relationships, whether it is the minister or counselor in me. I do not want to get coal in my stocking or land my name on the naughty list. But I want people to listen to the songs with a certain filter. Apart from Valentine’s Day, perhaps no other season gets tied to romance like Christmas. If there is a season to fall in love, it is Christmas. And if there is a season to fix a relationship, it is Christmas. One of the things that has always bothered me is why all the boyfriends and girlfriends go missing. And why did they go missing in the Fall? Everyone is just begging Santa to bring their baby home. I have this vision of Santa packing all the toys into his sleigh and all the missing partners people keep singing about.
So here are the modern standard Christmas relationship songs:
Santa Tell Me is a catchy single from Ariana Grande. She asks Santa not to have her fall in love if the guy she likes won't be in her life the next Christmas. She is attracted to someone, but she already had romances in her life that began on Christmas, and by the time New Year's Eve came, she was all alone. She is worried that she will give her heart away too quickly. Keep her away from the mistletoe when the guy comes by. So, he is cute; I want to date him, but if he is going to break my heart, stop me before I even start.
Oh, Santa is a Christmas song that combines the prominent voices of Mariah Carey, Ariana Grande, and Jennifer Hudson. It is a fabulous song, but Santa, amidst all the other things he needs to do in December, needs to be cupid as well.
Make You Mine This Season is a song from the sister duo of Tegan and Sara. In the song, Christmas is the perfect season to fall in love. A guy is on the rebound from a bad breakup; the hope is that the girl can turn this into an opportunity to “get on his list.”
All I Want for Christmas by Mariah Carey is the standard. Is there any modern Christmas song that is more iconic? This ultimate holiday bop consistently lands in the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Holiday 100 every Christmas season, even years after its release. The chimes, piano, drums, and bells that open the song are . I love to hear it around November 15th, and by December 15th, I will be ready to put it back in the stocking until next year. Maria' plea to Santa is simple. All she wants is her guy for Christmas.
The song, Baby It's Cold Outside crosses the bridge from classic to modern. It is a beloved song, and it has been rerecorded dozens of times, but it is also a song that people do not know what to do with. It has almost become a meme or the symbol of holiday cancel culture. Is it innocent, seduction, or creepy? That is your call.
But here is the one that drives me crazy:
Last Christmas, I gave you my heart.
But the very next day, you gave it away.
This year, to save me from tears,
I'll give it to someone special.
What happened to this couple? The tragedy of the whole scenario. This couple has been dating for at least a few months. They spend Christmas Day together. The logical detective in me can only assume they spent Christmas Eve together and were together on Christmas Day.
The song tells us he gave his heart to his true love on Christmas day. Whether it was romance, a declaration, a proposal, or a Christmas gift. The idea is clear. He gave his heart to this other person.
Then, somehow, they break up that very night or early the following day, December 26th; his true love is with someone else the very next day. That is terrible. It is the worst possible scenario. Breakups are always painful; usually, they are more painful for one than the other. Often, the one breaking up has already begun to think and act on a scenario beyond where the partner is. The one breaking up is already probably talking to or seeing the new person. I do not recommend this, but I have seen enough Hallmark movies and Virgin River to know how this works.
But this person broke someone’s heart on Christmas! Again, it is terrible. If I had this broken-hearted person come into my office, I am not sure I would have anything to offer them regarding help or advice. My only phrase would be, “I am sorry.” But I would say you deserve better. The worst part is that this horrible scenario is immortalized in a song we sing yearly. While I cannot change the lyrics of any of these songs, maybe I can offer a little advice.
1. Be careful around the holidays, especially when beginning a new relationship. Everything at Christmas is amplified. All the good and all the bad. When a loved one passes away, it is always hardon a family, but when you lose someone during the holidays, it just stings a little more. The same goes for romance. Please do not rush in or try to microwave a romance simply because it is a few weeks before Christmas.
2. Guard your heart; do not be careless with it. One of my favorite Bible verses is in the Book of Proverbs. Proverbs 4:23: "Above all else, guard your heart, for from it flows the wellspring of life within you." It tells us to guard the heart more than anything else. That is a stern warning. But it is a good warning. Do not let your heart get you in trouble. The heart will rush in, lie to you, telling you it is ok to have it simply because you want it. Guarding your heart means you protect it from those trying to break it, but it also acts like a bodyguard. Guarding your heart means telling your heart the truth. When we recognize that we have a heart and mind, we need to allow them to allow them to work with each other.
3. At least the "once bitten twice shy" lover waited a year. Typically, when someone is going through a bad breakup, I tell them they need time. The temptation for many is to find someone new right away. Dating on the rebound is never a good choice. Typically, it would be best to take a dating break for about a year, especially if it was a long relationship. If you start a new relationship and you have not fully healed from the last one, chances are this relationship will be full of processing the last one. Not a good foundation. If you just broke up and are unsure how long to wait, take out your cell phone, find today’s date, one year from now, and type in, “It is ok today to date someone.” You will be surprised at how quickly that year passes and how healthy you are. In our song, a year has passed, and as he thinks about a new relationship, he still has some pain from last year.
4. A holiday season will not fix a bad relationship. Regardless of what Hallmark movies or Virgin River might tell us. If it is not working, be willing to ask yourself the hard questions. Have you been on again/ off again? Have you broken up frequently? Has there been cheating or unfaithfulness? Some of these things might point you to a larger reality; it is just not working. Santa might need to bring the freedom of ending something this season and work on starting over.
Sorry if I sound like a Scrooge. Enjoy the Christmas music; however, it comes to you. To offset all the Christmas love songs, maybe sprinkle in a few more Christmas carols, Nat King Cole and Burl Ives. But above all, guard your heart this holiday season.
As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.