This journey would not be complete without one last moment of country genius. There was no question in my mind which song would be Christmas Eve. This one was set from the beginning of this project. There is only one song that takes all of the big and the quiet and the mulling and the processing and wraps all of those stories into the literal image of hope.
Every night I walk to my window to watch the sunset. If there is anything in the sky that is picture worthy, it gets snapped. Almost every one of the cover images for this series were pictures that I have taken of sunsets. Sunsets are the antibiotic ointment on the nasty open wounds of my life. They are my Mupirosin. If I am driving, I have a hard time not focusing on the sky. If I’m somewhere other than my porch, there is a good chance that I’m more interested in watching the sunset than I am the activity. BUT. If you find me a porch at a restaurant where I can watch the sunset while we share a meal, well. You win my whole heart.
If I’m honest, by the time I made it to writing this song’s story, I did not feel the Christmas cheer like I hoped. Here’s the thing about my curious dreaming. Now that I engage in it, I have to be ready for the disappointment. Even with all of the best planning and idea banks. Even with all of the best intentions. We still find the orange. Life is full of it. There will always be the things that tear out our soul.
I spent so many years with a solution in this moment. I gave it to Jesus. On Tuesdays and Sundays and especially on Christmas Eve. The path to contentment and hope was in a 8 pound 6 ounce Baby Jesus. And yes, that’s a Talledega Nights joke. My sense of humor is not gone. But it also really, really hurts. The answers are not easy. It’s as messy as this line:
“these things eat at your bones and drive your young mind crazy”
The complicated heavy of this song is the truest musical story of my year. Most days have felt more like this song than “Never Gonna Not Dance Again.” And the craziest part? Where is the driving bass in this song? It’s as low key as it gets. Sure, it’s there. But there is no pushing drive. There is no wild. There is not even a crescendo of a huge bridge. Instead, it’s the pressing pain of the lyrics and the dependable strum on that acoustic guitar that makes me feel the orange.
Another part of this song that is defining for me is the solo journey. There is a longing for people because the painful places are lonely. We miss being connected. We miss knowing our place in the world. In the hard moments of the orange, we have to sit alone and face reality. And when that reality is filled with memories of a world that is no longer, the orange is sad. And so very hard.
Those of you that have followed me on this journey may be siting in this moment thinking, this is how you wrap this up? In the hard of the orange? Nope. There is one more. But to fully understand tomorrow, you have to sit in the orange. You don’t get to skip the orange. Even if the answers for tomorrow are not as neatly packed as I would like them to be. Even if they feel too big and crazy and my insides want a quick fix. There are many moments that I wish that I could just go to church tonight and make it all ok. But that’s why we have the orange. We need to wrestle around a bit before tomorrow.
If 2022 has taught me anything, it’s that the road out and through is always going to include the hard work of something that will need more. And we have more tomorrow. We have a musical Christmas gift that literally helps me fly out of the most orange-y of orange moments. At the very same time, it allows me to be there when I need to. It’s the one. The one that literally sings me into the hardest moments.
My Christmas Eve today is really different than those of the past. So many things have changed in the many orange seasons of the last two years. My ability to grow and not die in this process has been possible in the orange. Which is where I find myself today. And that’s ok. It’s not what I planned or pictured. It’s not what I even wanted. But there are streaks of the sun in that orange that I need. Without the orange, I don’t know how to depend on the green. Or fly…