After plopping on the headphones to listen to my new Christmas single, “So in Love at Christmas Time,” a number of friends and family members reacted in a similar manner. While I bobbed my head to the seemingly soft and distant melodies that blared in their ears, they tapped their toes, gave me the affirmation of a thumbs up/smile combination, and gave their critique with obnoxious volume, “WOW! THIS IS GOOD!… WAIT, AM I TALKING TOO LOUD?”
I’d smile and confirm their lack of decibel control with an overdramatic nod and a mimed laugh.
All of the reactions have been along the lines of “PERFECT!,” “HOMERUN!,” and “I LOVE IT!” My mom even starts swaying her body to the swingy beat of the song’s Christmasy percussion. I have to admit, when I first heard the song on Home.fm, our local radio station, I felt like the Oneder’s in the movie, That Thing You Do- my heart pounding while running wildly through the streets dancing and shouting, “I’m on the radio!”
But, if I wasn’t listening, there’s a secondary reaction that I would’ve missed in all of the buzz and hype of having a new single out. It’s a subtle deception that wraps itself in a smile and a good-natured pat on the back. It goes something like this, “Rob, you’re such a romantic…” as if the lyrics that dance across the rhythmic melodies have no place in “real life.” “Romantic” too often becomes a polite euphemism for “unrealistic.” People dismiss it the same way they shrug off attempting something great by calling ordinary men “heroes” or “saints” or “entrepreneurs.” In order to stay sheltered from the sharp burning of hope and longing, they immortalize or condescend the actions of “ordinary radicals” (as Shane Claiborne puts it), and make them into something just short of Godlike or crazy.
When I was a teenager, “Rob, you’re such a romantic…” felt like a compliment. Now every time I hear it, I feel the slow throbbing heat of desire build inside my chest, and I want to explode with, “This is the way life should be! Romantic, dangerous, and wholehearted!” C.S. Lewis better describes the depth of my feeling when he writes, “I am almost committing an indecency. I am trying to rip open the inconsolable secret in each one of you- the secret which hurts so much that you take your revenge on it by calling it names like Nostalgia and Romanticism and Adolescence.”
For many, the songs and stories I and other authors put to paper or broadcast over the airwaves represent a distant or perhaps even an undreamed dream of a wholehearted, playful, and fulfilling life of love. Like the tragic character Fantine sang in the musical Les Miserables, many whisper unknowingly, “Now life has killed the dream I dreamed.”
I recently received an interesting comment on one of my blogs from a friend. “I enjoy following you!” she wrote. “It’s nice to see that you are so dedicated to living your dreams! I wish you the best! Most of us only dream anymore.”
Let that last sentence sink in… “Most of us only dream anymore.”
I imagine her typing it with the fraudulent smile of youthful nostalgia and a discontented sigh. I can picture her leaning back at her computer desk wishing for the good ol’ days when the world and her dreams seemed bigger. Then, in my imagination, she slowly gets up, forgets her dreams, and goes about her scheduled activities for the day thinking, “That’s just the way it is,” or perhaps, even more tragically, she doesn’t think much about it at all.
Maybe I’m reading too much into her simple statement. Maybe I’m reading too much into people saying, “Rob you’re such a romantic.”
Or maybe it’s true. Most of us only dream anymore.
I’ve included the youtube version of my new Christmas single. I think this is what married love at Christmas time should be like. If it’s not like this for you, stop dreaming. Start praying for what you could only dream of before.