It's kind of significant that today is the fifth anniversary of the day I first moved to Madison. Actually there are two anniversaries--December 26th is when I first started living in Madison, and January 26th is the day I pulled up all my Illinois stakes and fully relocated myself to Madison. That's another long story which I'll tell in another month. But I promised ye gentle readers that I was going to write a little bit more about my visit to Chicago
To me the song is about feeling lost and being found again due to God's grace. I soooooo identify with that. My first few years in Madison were very difficult for me. This year I feel like I've been through the wringer again, too, but I also feel like I've been showered with the grace of God. So I would like to reprint these lyrics for anyone who has felt or feels lost. If anyone knows who wrote the song, please tell me. I want to shake the person's hand, and of course give credit where credit is due.
What got to me was the orange street lights. Seriously. Chicago's street lights are a weird, incandescent orange, and that made it very, well, Chicago. I have many memories of various adventures under those street lights--excursions to different parts of the city to visit family, hang out with friends, celebrate the Fourth of July or New Year's. And it was all coming back to me, even among the gritty parts of the city near the Stevenson Expressway.
I have a funny relationship with Christmas. It’s been over two decades since I stopped being exclusively a Christian.
When I was growing up, we had a tradition of playing certain music when decorating the Christmas tree. There was a reel-to-reel tape that we always listened to and it became the soundtrack to our tree decorating efforts. The tape started with four songs that my parents recorded in 1969 off “The Midnight Special,” a folk music show on WFMT, the classical music station in Chicago. These four songs are very much etched in my memory and inseparable from the experience of Christmas itself.
I’m a sentimental fool that still gets misty-eyed over chestnuts roasting over an open fire and who lets his head resemble that of a bobble-head doll when hearing the tune to “Carol of the Bells.” The smell of fireplaces and burning wood in the cold night and the moonlight over the snow covered hills of Wisconsin, and the Christmas displays in Olin Park. I just want to roll around in it all of it like a dog rolling in…um…holly berries. Yeah, holly berries.