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2. Grown-Up Christmas List

During December, I’m posting my Top 10 favorite holiday songs. Each song has a special story or meaning behind it for me. What stories or meanings do you have for your favorite holiday songs?

This song is different from the others on my list. It is the only one I didn’t sing, and it has more of a socially conscious theme.

There are other socially conscious songs I could have added to the list: Stevie Wonder’s “Someday at Christmas,” John Lennon’s “Happy Xmas (War is Over),” and Band Aid’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas,” which is marking its 30th anniversary this year. However, “Grown-Up Christmas List” shows the personal suffering that doesn’t get press coverage. This suffering happens all around us, including our own communities.

Consider this lyric:

As children we believed
The grandest sight to see
Was something lovely
Wrapped beneath our tree.
Well, heaven surely knows
That packages and bows
Can never heal
A hurting human soul.

The human souls who hurt the most are the ones we don’t even know are in pain.

I recently listened to a speaker whose daughter died last year. On the surface, this mother looked like she had it all. She had a nice home in an exclusive neighborhood. She sent her kids to top-tier high schools, and she went on international vacations. Her daughter was an exceptional artist and good student — until her drug addiction took over her life. Her daughter’s addiction caused the mother severe emotional strain. The daughter stole from her mother’s bank account to fund her habit, which left the mother unable to pay her bills. She had to put her daughter into rehab. It looked like she recovered for a while, but she suffered a relapse. The daughter died from an apparent heroin overdose. She was only 17 years old.

Nothing sold in a store could fill the emptiness this mother felt. She talked about a necklace she bought that reminded her of a painting her daughter did. She wept, “Why do I have to buy something to remember my own daughter?”

For people like her and so many others, the only gift we can give them is to care. To listen attentively and without judging. To give kind, supportive words. To offer hope and encouragement. The best present is to be present.

“Grown-Up Christmas Wish” is a wish for a better world, but it also reminds us that a better world starts with us. We need to care about others more than we care about ourselves, to give more than we take, and to reach out to those who suffer. The song reminds us that generosity and compassion are part of the spirit of Christmas.