Friday, December 21, 2018

Christmas Letter -- December 19

I've been wanting to blog lately -- surprise!  After pulling back for so many years, I just feel the need.  Social media is such a mess at this point, I thought the other morning, I'd like to blog like we did in the beginning (circa 2000-2005), before it was awash with advertising and marketing and now, prostituted by foreign countries for their own aims.

I thought about calling it a Christmas Letter -- just a few days of blogging, maybe 14 days -- as I was driving to work from Acton, through Concord, then Lexington, to Cambridge these cold mornings of sensational sunrises with bare branches of birch and oak, like ink drawings. Passing ponds, slightly frozen at at the edges.

Not all branches are bare. A few hearty green pine trees sing out "We are Christmas Trees too!"  You can celebrate the conifers without decking them with bright lights. The car is like a cold horse, shuttering and a bit uneven before it gets into its pace. A blessed baby pink sky with terrifying black ice below, to keep you on your toes on roads traveled by Redcoats and the real original Patriots.

So please listen to Joni Mitchell's amazing song River with me. (Go Google it, because, weirdly, I can't actually quote the lyrics without creating legal liability for myself.) 

A mournful version of Jingle Bells opens her song, a musician's lament about being stuck playing and performing at Christmas when all you want to be is ... home.  As a Canadian, and how beautifully Canadian her lyrics are, she is missing the chilly, bracingly cold Christmas where you put on your skates and hang out with friends on frozen ponds.  It's quiet and private and no marketing geniuses are invited.

She talks of wanting to just skate away on a river of ice.  Even the way she says the word "Skate" is so Canadian. And the other lyrics, "We're coming on Christmas, they're cutting down trees" suggest the great north woods.

Melancholy and full of memories, the song is certainly a different journey from LA to her memories of home, compared to the classic "Over the River and Through the Woods" lyrics of old.

And her slightly minor version of the standard "Jingle Bells" together with her operatic heights when she muses about skating and skating and skating far away, are bittersweet. And as people who love to skate know, it does feel like flying when you really move fast, and she takes us upward as her lovely voice flies into an angelic high range.

Christmas isn't always happy, is it?  And she's keen on transcending the too happy warm, green palm tree Christmas climate of LA for the sobering quiet of frozen ponds in quiet woods.