The holidays are often seen as a time of joy: ruddy cheeks, festive parties, and twinkling laughter, all wrapped in a warm, tinsel-framed glow. It’s the most wonderful time of the year!
Or is it?
For many, the holidays can be a difficult reminder of what one lacks or has lost. Family relationships are strained, financial pressure is mounting — and now more than ever, we are all reminded that this world is not always a safe place. When stress is high and spirits are low, even the most nostalgic of seasons can feel anything but joyous.
Latifah Phillips of Page CXVI took a popular Christian children’s song “Down in my Heart,” typically an upbeat and cheerful tune, and reinterpreted it into a melancholy rendition. At first listen, the words and new harmonic treatment feel in conflict with one another — because how can one sing “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart” in a minor key? Phillips herself seems to wrestle with the tension, adding a new refrain:
I can’t understand
And I can’t pretend
That this will be alright in the end
But listen on. She chooses to cap the song with a verse from the hymn “It Is Well With My Soul,” a song of acceptance and trust in the face of pain. Could it be that joy can still be found in the midst of our loss and suffering? When hope seems impossible, might we still anticipate that peace will indeed come?
Take heart in these coming weeks. Even if the mood and melody are dark, joy is available to us in every season.