Monday, 19 December 2016

I believe in Father Christmas...I think

It is with much sadness that I learned of the death of Greg Lake earlier this month - just the latest in a seemingly endless list of famous casualties who have left us this year.  I knew little about Greg Lake, other than his Emerson, Lake & Palmer connection, but I suspect, like many other people, the connection I associate with him most, is the enduring Christmas classic 'I believe in Father Christmas'.

Greg Lake: Maple Leaf Gardens, performing with Emerson, Lake, and Palmer in Toronto, Feb. 3, 1978 Photo by Jean-Luc Ourlin

Released in 1975, and written by Lake and Pete Sinfield, this has remained one of my favourite Christmas songs, for its ability to transport me back to the innocence of childhood Christmases, with evocative lyrics such as 'I woke with a yawn in the first light of dawn'; for its beautiful melody, enhanced by the snippet of Prokofiev's 'Sleigh Ride' instrumental; and for its thoughtful sentiment, which hints at the loss of innocence - 'I saw him and through his disguise' - and the growing commercialism of Christmas.

'Santa's Portrait' byThomas Nast, published in Harper's Weekly, 1881
It's a multi-layered song, brilliantly described by co-writer Pete Sinfield as 'a picture-postcard Christmas with morbid edges'.

Even though the childhood excitement of Christmas has long-gone for me, I still love the festive season, and I consider myself lucky to have been blessed with so many happy memories of this time, spent with loved ones, many of whom are no longer around.  It can be bitter-sweet, but I'm glad I have those memories, and one of the great joys of Christmas, for me, is the sense of continuity with the past.  In a world which is rapidly changing, sometimes too quickly, we take comfort in the traditions and rituals associated with Christmas...including Father Christmas.

Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year.

Until next time...bye for now x

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