Christmas Day

Another year (and what a year!) and I haven’t posted much on my blog again. I’ve still been writing songs – one every week this year so far. Many are on my YouTube channel. Wanted to share here on my blog the one I wrote for this week. Christmas Day is always hard for some people, and this year many more of us will be feeling blue and alone.

Additionally, for a little more sad but then some punk rock cheer, here’s my family’s tenth annual holiday greeting:

Peace and love to you and yours as we end out this year and bravely go forth into the next!

Midnight Clear

A friend e-mailed me yesterday – “Julia! Where’s the family Christmas video?!” And I realized I had only posted it on Facebook and not shared it through my other usual online portals.

I’m so touched and encouraged to hear every year from loved ones who look forward to this. Yes I am unmistakeably an introvert, but the older I get, the more I treasure the presence of others in my life.

So – happy holidays to you and yours! May you be filled with courage and kindness as you step into the new decade. We need you today and always – your voice, your face, your perspective, the passion, joy, challenge, wisdom that only you can bring us.

Aleppo (Merry Christmas Once More)

I wasn’t only thinking about Aleppo when I wrote this song. Christmas doggedly returns at the darkest time of the year, and sometimes it feels nearly impossible – or insincere, or inconsiderate – to celebrate when so many people are suffering.

But I think that tears of compassion and even deep personal suffering can coexist with tidings of comfort and joy. And the longer I live, the more that is what Christmas – and life in general – is about for me.

So let’s sing and celebrate – and mourn and grieve. Let’s be fully alive and unafraid this Christmas season. True “Christmas spirit” is not a mask that must pretend everything is okay in order to start the festivities, but a wholehearted embrace of the world and the people in it, just as I find them.

I’m not saying I know much about how to do this, or can even possibly begin to understand what so many people have experienced or are going through right now. But I do know that I’d rather practice listening and opening my heart to people – and risk making mistakes – than ignore and pretend – and shrink my world down to what feels manageable.

Once more, with feeling.

Here’s my song for week 50 of #songaweek2016:

it’s an old weathered song
at the darkest time of the year
merry christmas, merry christmas once more
we raise up a toast
and we try to drum up the cheer
merry christmas, merry christmas once more

while the bombs keep on dropping
and nobody’s stopping to cry

it’s a tired refrain
that keeps proclaiming peace and good will
merry christmas, merry christmas once more
and the stars keep their watch
and the snow lies cold and still
merry christmas, merry christmas once more

Baby of Bethlehem

I wrote this song in 2008, but it never felt finished until I rewrote the last verse yesterday. Peace to you and yours, to neighbors and strangers, allies and enemies, to all of us everywhere.

Lyrics:

Belfast and Belgrade, Beirut and Beijing

Baghdad and Bosnia filled with broken things

Tanks plow the streets

Bombs sown like strange seeds

Give them the baby of Bethlehem

 

El Salvador, Saigon, Sudan and Syria

Sierra Leone and Somalia are weary of

Fat cats and their dogfights

Nightmares in broad daylight

Give them the baby of Bethlehem

 

No crying he makes, no death or disease

What child is this who’s broken to be our peace?

 

Littleton, Newtown, Facebook and Hollywood

Pine Ridge and Ferguson and Bedford-Stuyvesant

We’re scared and suspicious,

Anonymously vicious

Give us the baby of Bethlehem

Halo in the Frost

There’s a new Christmas record in town. And it’s free! A gift from me to you. You can listen and download here:

http://noisetrade.com/juliabloom/halo-in-the-frost

Here’s a new video of one of the songs from the album:

The album also features two previously-recorded songs, Annunciation and Oh Restless Night. Here are the videos we made for those in winters past. Annunciation is still one of my favorite videos we made, even though it was with our lower-quality camera and early in our days of making videos (and Nathan had an unfortunate ankle-cracking experience in the middle of filming):

Season’s greetings to you and yours!

A Long Walk, A Thousand Miles From Newtown

On Saturday Silas and I walked downtown to buy a book for his kindergarten class gift exchange.

On Friday our town had been a snow-covered Christmas-fairy-tale village. Then it rained. It rained on Friday night, and all day Saturday. The rain erased the snow and exposed the husks and straw of fall to the numb gray sky.

We bought our book and headed home through the mist. Everything was crying. We moved slowly and silently, my 37-year-old legs newly attuned to his six-year-old pace.

The cheerful Christmas music piped through Central Park’s loudspeakers sounded alien and anachronistic.

We passed the post office and the library, who face one another across Broadway. Their flags waved wearily where they had fallen, halfway to the muddy ground.

We passed my children’s school, whose flag also trailed low, heavy with its load of grief.

We passed three neighbor boys on bicycles. I smiled and said hello. They were painfully beautiful.

That was a very long walk. I am still tired from it.