Discovering the Christmas in the Room

Driving home with my wife, one of Sufjan Stevens new songs,“Christmas in The Room,came across the playlist. I was in a quiet enough space to hear what was being said. I realized how much it describes what our Christmas will likely be - both externally and internally.

Earlier in the day, a friend had asked in an email, “What are ya’ll’s plans for Christmas?”

The song answers it more poetically than I ever could:

“No travel plans, no shopping malls, no candy canes, or Santa Claus.
For as the day of rest draws near, it's just the two of us this year.
No silver bells or mistletoe,
we'll kiss and watch our TV shows.
I'll come to you, I'll sing to you, like it's Christmas in the room.
I'll dance with you, I'll laugh with you, till it's Christmas in the room.”
No traffic jams, no ice and storm, far in the house the fire is warm.
No Christmas tree, no great parade, it's just an ordinary day.
No parties planned, no place to go, it's just the two of us alone.
And in the house, we see a light that comes from what we feel inside.
Oh I can't see the day when we'll die, but I don't care to think of silence.
For now, I hear you laughing; the greatest joy is like the sunrise...
No gifts to give, they're all right here, inside our hearts the glorious cheer.
And in the house we see a light that comes from what we know inside.
I'll come to you, I'll sing to you, like it's Christmas in the room.
I'll dance with you, I'll laugh with you, till it's Christmas in the room.
... like it's Christmas in the room.”

When Sufjan sings of “no gifts to give,” we may have joked about how we can hardly afford to give each other physical gifts, but I thought back over the last year and how much we have both discovered in new ways the “glorious cheer” inside our hearts, “A light that comes from what we know inside.” We’ve been through some rough waters and glorious rides, the kind that come from living full lives, stretching into our skin, discovering new comfort there.

Earlier in the year we learned to dance for our wedding day. I wrote about it in a piece for Curator Magazine and if you wish to read it, check it out over there. But what came to mind hearing the chorus of “Christmas in The Room,” was how we not only learned to dance together, we continue to learn tons about enjoying each other in the Dance.

We also learned a lot of laughter during the process of those dancing lessons.  More so, since being married, laughter is more regular than it was before those wedding vows. I am not sure there is a direct correlation, but there is a freedom in the commitment that seems to require taking one’s self less seriously. It’s a bit difficult to get puffed up when your wife has seen behind the curtain and knows it’s just a bunch of hot air and gimmick. The freedom to be loved creates much space for laughter.

Hearing that song together brought a few smiles to my face as I thought about where Life has lead us. In the rumble and tumble of the Christmas season, Sufjan Stevens might sound a bit pensive or melancholic, but I think he has hidden a brilliant truth in those words. There are far more valuable gifts we’ve been given that are usually discovered in the corners and hearths of the soul. Sharing those gifts and that Light make more sense to me these days. And it is quite the gift to live Life – the beautiful mess of it all – with someone who is brave enough to laugh and dance with me.