With the backdrop of wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and seemingly endless conflicts on the horizon, a local musician created an opportunity for people to come together for the holiday season. Celia’s Yuletide Express was formed 15 years ago to share joy and remember the deepest longings of humans in the long nights of winter. Over the years, the numerous sing a longs have brought together hundreds of people at various venues. The Express stops range from assisted living facilities, coffee houses, high schools, psychiatric centers, to actual Metro train stops.
All are welcome to take part. The age ranges from young ones to elders singing along and dancing. It is magical in what singing can bring about in the human spirit. Humans have long celebrated festivals centered around the Solstice in anticipation of the light returning in times of darkness. The songs selected emerge from our collective culture; expand beyond any religious context.
The theme is a distinctly antiwar and highlights yearnings for peace. Among the favorites are Happy Christmas/ War is Over, Do You Hear What I hear? and War Pigs by Black Sabbath. Some have said they did not realize War Pigs was a holiday song.
I am grateful for this local tradition within the larger context of our movements for peace. Music plays such an important part in storytelling. John McCutcheon song Christmas in the Trenches captures in song the story about a soldier entering “No Man’s Land” and creating a temporary truce in 1914. Some excerpts from an article about the ravages of the First World War.
The unclaimed territory designated No Man’s Land was littered with the awful residue of war – expended ammunition and the lifeless bodies of those on whom the ammunition had been spent. The mortal remains of many slain soldiers could be found grotesquely woven into barbed wire fences. Villages and homes lay in ruins. Abandoned churches had been appropriated for use as military bases.
Reflecting on the Christmas Truce, Scottish historian Roland Watson writes: “The State bellows the orders ‘Kill! Maim! Conquer!’ but a deeper instinct within the individual does not readily put a bullet through another who has done no great offense, but who rather says with them, ‘What am I doing here?'”
One of my personal favorites holiday songs is Stevie Wonder’s Someday at Christmas. These songs offer visions of a world beyond war and hatred. Something worth contemplating in the depths of winter, seeds to nourish to take root in the Spring.
War Pigs by Black Sabbath
Generals gathered in their masses
Just like witches at black masses
Evil minds that plot destruction
Sorcerers of death’s construction
In the fields the bodies burning
As the war machine keeps turning
Death and hatred to mankind
Poisoning their brainwashed minds, oh lord yeah!
Politicians hide themselves away
They only started the war
Why should they go out to fight?
They leave that role to the poor, yeah!
Time will tell on their power minds
Making war just for fun
Treating people just like pawns in chess
Wait ’till their judgement day comes, yeah!
Now in darkness, world stops turning
Ashes where the bodies’ burning
No more war pigs have the power
Hand of God has struck the hour
Day of judgement, God is calling
On their knees, the war pigs crawling
Begging mercy for their sins
Satan, laughing, spreads his wings, oh lord yeah!
Changed to Santa laughing spreads his wings, Ho! Ho! Ho!
Post by Chrissy Kirchhoefer