I know. It will be a funny Christmas. Yet another lived in the wake of COVID. And contaminations are increasing dramatically. Omicron points his menacing spikes at everyone. François Legault no longer manages to reassure his world. “Here, shepherds, let’s assemble. Was it such a good idea to come together, anyway?
While waiting for the bumpy party, many have clung to Advent classics to keep an ear in the world of yesterday. The pandemic has erased already diffuse artistic or social imprints. People are groping for them.
Several went to listen to one of the two Messiah by Handel in Montreal, one at Saint Joseph’s Oratory, the other at the Maison symphonique. On the mountain, when chef Boris Brott invited the audience to stand up for his Hallelujah, imitating the King of England George II at the premiere of this oratorio in 1742, one felt a wave of pleasure intertwined with the old frayed traditions. They no longer have much meaning, those. The British monarchy has been bothering us for a long time, devotion to match. And then the Messiah was first composed for the feast of Easter. Not serious ! It is the shared gesture that reassures for a moment. The public has become fragile. You have to understand.
As for the Christmas carols heard at church or on the radio, or even on a CD of the Petits Chanteurs du Mont-Royal that we play one evening at home, they seem to emanate from a bygone era. We listen to them with half-closed eyes. “Play oboe, sound musettes. It sounds pretty, on accents of vanished candor. For harmony, religious hymns fly above the occasional commercial tune that breaks our ears in stores with a lot of synthesizers. Spare us the Jingle Bell Rock and the I Wish You a Merry Christmas ! The angels in our countryside have more poetic wings. In this, the respective beliefs of each do not change anything. A question of beauty and pure note.
The cultural legacy of the Holidays is above all musical. And more and more secular. What does not make it better for all that, we note with regret. The spirit of religious celebration has strayed with the faith of our ancestors. So, we mix the tunes of the day before yesterday with words of reunion punctuated by the bass drum. With further health anxiety.
So much the better if friends and families, even in decimated ranks, somehow communicate in these cold times of the year. So much the better if the Midnight Christian still makes them vibrate or if they prefer to listen to rap at the evening. Who could be against the melody of happiness?
Many popular stars concoct more or less garish seasonal records and concerts or invite the family to share the pre-recorded celebrations. Among the Dions, among the Deschamps, it is joyful in the throes. But how can you really believe it? We are going through such a hard time. Two years of pandemic, it undermines the morale of many people. Shouldn’t we be singing muted? It is not to play the prophets of doom with trumpets, but a re-containment so quickly arrived on the ashes of the big New Year’s Eve.
The well-watered celebrations combine with doubts and a few bitter laughs. Those of the lonely old people and the marginalized against the tide of the jubilation prescribed upstream by masked and worried leaders, who have long pushed their flock to let off steam despite the risks involved. This feast of nostalgia arouses so many expectations that last-minute sanitary measures to cut the whistle could make people hysterical or violent. The mare got carried away. Woh, the gray!
Yet Christmas awakens painful memories in many. So many crises were experienced in front of the trees, as Serge Denoncourt mentioned in Press and Denise Bombardier at Journal of Montreal. Under the white snow, this need to spend wildly on ill-chosen gifts when parents pull the devil by the tail and tear each other apart deserves to be waved a bell or two to calm the pom-pom. The bliss of command crisps the smiles in the family photo. Some cranky Christmas people advise us by the gang to moderate our transport. How can we prove them wrong on this?
Where is so much consuming fury leading us? Excessively greasy and smeared meetings swear with our fragile times. The climate crisis calls for spending less to minimize our carbon footprint. As for the pandemic, it calls for tempering its kisses when a virus is frolicking while singing Gloria ! when it touches us. We wish each other a Merry Christmas in music, but not under that Omicron’s violin. Cheerful but not too much. Soft ! Soft !