This is a time of miracles. Hanukah begins tonight. The word Hanukah means “rededication” and celebrates Jewish heroes who rededicated themselves to faith and principles in spite of a religious oppression. Christmas is the annual celebration commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ. Both holidays remind us of miracles – both past, present and future.
I grew up in a home where we celebrated both holidays. My dad’s side of the family is Jewish and my mother’s is Christian. So Jingle Bells could be sung along with Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel. I find myself listening to holiday tunes and singing songs with my granddaughters. Since the tots are only 4 and 2, they do not mind my off key voice or the “la, la, las” I croon because I can’t remember the lyrics of the songs.
It seems after five decades of singing these holiday tunes that the words would be forever etched in my memory. Of course they are not. Even more fun are misunderstood lyrics or “mondegreens.”
Here are a few Christmas favorites:
From Silent Night there’s “round young virgin.” Perhaps she needs to attend weight watchers?
Rudolf the Red Nose Reindeer’s “Olive the other reindeer.” I just assumed she got mad at Popeye and morphed into a different species and cartoon.
Joy to the World’s lyrics showed gender equality with “He rules the world with Ruth and Grace.” Sounds good to me. Why not spread that power around?
When my children were young I took a geology class and became very interested in rocks. My daughters assumed “Solid as a Rock” was “Sally has a rock.” Because I would only rarely let them chew gum (but I did not deny myself the chewy substance) the lyrics “What You Gonna Do When I’m Gone?” became “What You Gonna Do With Your Gum?” They were not above retrieving my ABC gum and giving it a recycled try.
The point of listing these mondegreens is to show how easily we can misinterpret things based on our expectations. Of course this is true in life as well as musical misunderstandings. We can start out with the best of intentions but often it can morph into something that we never expected.
That is one of the reasons I love the holidays. We intend to go through the year being kind and generous, but life can become so busy that we forget. Christmas and Hanukah remind us that miracles can – and do – appear if you allow yourself to be open enough to believe.
Whether it’s refreshing our memory of song lyrics, or simply trying to infuse a little more happiness into our lives, we need to practice the things that are important to us or they will lose their meaning and the joy it brings will disappear from our lives.
I have heard the cynics say that it would take a miracle for things to improve in our world. I am not an economist, politician or even a philosopher. However, I am an optimist who believes in miracles. My holiday wish to all of you is to reaffirm what is good in your life and make a conscious effort to bring it to the forefront every day. With our combined efforts we can make the earth a better place to live and together we can work toward making Joy to the World and Peace on Earth a reality.