Ironic Advent Meditation #xy-y:
Crunky Advent Yo!
(Guest Meditation by Jennifer Strange)
Ta-da-ta-da! Friends, Grinches, Crunkyfolk—I hereby introduce a new Ironic Advent Meditation-er, perhaps the strangest of them all, my friend, Jennifer Strange*.
I asked her if she’d like to write a guest meditation this year, and she said, "Yo, I'm down with that." That bothered me, but not as much as this . . . thing she wrote.
In truth, Ben Camino doesn't even know what Crunk means, but I’m sure my spiritual director, Tara Owens, does, so maybe she will give us an interpretation when she quits posting baby pictures for five minutes.
More about Jennifer* after the meditation. Enjoy. And may all your blessed days of Christ’s Coming Days (as Jennifer puts it) make you blush.
Friends, forgive me. But do love Lady Gaga’s “Christmas Tree” and Dirty Boyz’s “All I Want for Christmas Is to Get it Crunk.”
In the spirit of the season, let’s scapegoat Amazon: they gave the songs away free one year or another in their Advent Calendar Reason-for-the-Season Free Music Extravaganza (which I gather they don’t do anymore—the grinches), and I downloaded them digitally because they were (as mentioned) free, and now I’m hooked.
When you think about it, “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” isn’t so different from “All I want for Christmas is peace in the ‘hood.” Just turn a blind ear to the other stuff, and imagine Lady Gaga simply wants to spread wholesome Christmas cheer, and you’ll be fine.
Every year since its acquisition, “All I Want for Christmas Is to Get it Crunk” has been the first song I play from my “xmas favs” playlist during Advent. Like the day after Thanksgiving when I start decking the halls with nativity scenes and twinkly lights. Because it’s worshipful and stuff. And first time I’m in the car without the kids, Lady Gaga and I fa-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la down the road. She helps me handle the construction inevitable between here and there during the blessed days of Christ’s Coming Days.
Also, “Dashin’ through the snow in a stolen Chevrolet / with my broken taillight ridin’ dirty all the way” is a good alternative to the Honking Horn of Justice that I’m otherwise prone to exercise with my kids during this holy season. I love the songs of Advent and Christmas.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the lights and the trees. I love the creches, whether ceramic or hand-sewn or Playskool. I love the stories and the planning and the fruitcake and the cookies and the hot cocoa and the excuses to stay up late. But I don’t so much love the busyness and the never-ending sales and the crazed drivers.
And maybe that’s exactly why I love these songs? There’s something shockingly wrong about them that somehow seems right for Advent. They’re irreverent and raunchy, and they make me laugh at all the silliness. They’re raw and lusty and broken. They make me blush and hope no one’s watching . . . while I dance and sing loudly in the elementary-school carpool line.
Ben Camino would say that I need to get off my scarved high horse here and just admit I like the beat. But don’t tell my violin teachers from back in the day . . . or if you do, please make sure to mention Lady Gaga’s compositional nods to unaccompanied Bach partitas. And if you don’t think it would lay things on too thick, suggest also how that crunk song alludes to that one Christmas cantata—you know, that one.
Maybe after we sing about getting crunk, my playlist will offer “Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus,” and I laugh because I really do want him to come. That would be better by far.
OK, so this may not exactly be a recommendable devotional practice, but it’s become a personal Advent liturgy. Thanks, iTunes and Amazon. Thanks, Lady Gaga. Thanks for helping me worship the coming King. Thanks for reminding me how serious this cosmic longing is. You don’t give me any answers, but you make me dance to the ridiculousness.
How befuddling our God is to wait out all that. If I were him, I’d have been done with all that silliness a long time ago. He’s patient. He’s kind. And it sure is fun to let the Dirty Boyz help me look East for the Redeemer to come again. I’m sure that’s the point of Amazon’s Advent Calendar Reason-for-the-Season Free Music Extravaganza (may it rest in peace). Right, friends? Here endeth my ironic Advent confession.
*Jennifer Strange likes exchanging raised eyebrows with her husband, basking in the angelic glow of their three young sons, eating good chocolate, remembering that she has written poems, and applying her liberal arts education to the critical assessment of holiday songs (#fortheloveoffoucault). Seriously, she said that stuff. Ben Camino says that she is a poet, editor, sometimes lecturer, and, most important to him, said something nice about his ironic memoirish meditation once-upon-a-time in a Lauren Winner seminar when everyone else was saying "WHAT IS THIS? WHEN WILL SOMETHING HAPPEN? I DON'T GET IT!" She lives in Shreveport LA (once-upon-a-time home of the Louisiana Hayride), which Ben Camino thought sounded rather exotic until he drove through it a couple of years ago. It’s not. She looks kinda' like the lady in the opening picture.