• Jody Kussin

Oh Holy Night

#93 In These Times, December 24, 2020

Family Matters, by Dr. Jody Kussin

Do you listen much to Country music? I must say, my husband drew me into it decades ago and it took root and grew a tiny forest in me. There’s lots I don’t care for but, over time, it is quite a guilty pleasure, right up there with Real Housewives of…. but even better. And this time of year, when there is basically nothing to watch on tv, regular or premium, there are holiday specials galore.

I won’t hold it against you if it’s not your cup of tea, but I WILL encourage you to find and watch Garth and Trisha Live – A Holiday Christmas Event! None of the other tv specials hold a candle to them this year. Of course, Garth tears up and cries while singing ‘Belleau Woods’, a song he co-wrote about a Christmas cease fire which took place during World War I. Garth tells a fictional story about soldiers on both sides of the fight putting down their weapons at Christmas and joining together in song. Some of those lyrics include: The answer seemed so clear, “heaven's not beyond the clouds it's just beyond the fear…no, heaven's not beyond the clouds, it's for us to find it here.” It is haunting and beautiful and very touching. And as is the case in this era, there has been lots of social media coverage of this.

However, the song that seems especially relevant to me today, and to us all, whether or not you are celebrating Christmas and regardless of your world view and beliefs, is Trisha singing “Oh Holy Night.” This is a song of hope, in a weary world, where the birth of a baby reframes everyone’s thinking….

A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices

For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn'

Weary world? Check. Double check. We are ever so weary. 2020 tried to engulf us in pain, in death, in fear. It put us into tiny pods and bubbles and restricted us from hugging on our loved ones. 2020 reminded us we are not as invincible as we like to think. It oriented us toward ‘what stuff is really essential?’, at first, and later, more significantly, ‘which people are really essential?’ We went from hoarding toilet paper to recognizing the value of not only health workers and scientists, but also, mail carriers, trash collectors, and for sure teachers. We pivoted to using our ‘screens’ as appendages and to using our appendages as if we all are professional bread makers and master chefs. We majored in IT/tech and communications and minored in house cleaning and the rules of Eloise and we took a leave of absence in concert going and an incomplete in party planning.

And turns out, we are not quite done. 2020 is not 100% done with us. However, 2021 is on the horizon. As my cousin Jon, a science writer told me, “we are at mile 96 of a 100-mile hike…. we cannot nor do we want, to turn back, we can rest a bit, for we are not at the end, but we are getting closer every day…we need to hang in there and be safe and not risk it all, given how far we’ve come and how close we are to arriving.”

A thrill of hope. Weary souls - rejoice a little bit. We can see a new and glorious morning in our future. Be safe. Be well. Be careful. From Garth: “Heaven’s not beyond the clouds it’s just beyond the fear.” Together let’s take a few deep breaths. And hum a few verses to ourselves in the shower. A thrill of hope to us all.

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