By THE ENTHUSIAST
Jethro Tull’s "Wond’ring Aloud" isn’t thought of as a Christmas song, but it should be. True, it doesn’t explicitly mention Christmas, but then neither does "Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow," does it? The Enthusiast will now lay out his case, lyric by lyric.
The Heart Of The Matter
The question at the heart of the song is one we each ask ourselves in the bleak midwinter:
Wond’ring aloud, will the years treat us well?
It’s that "aloud" that sends a shiver through you. All too often we don’t wrestle with questions that profound in the open, with others. Christmas is a time when can. When we must.
Home With The Enthusiasts
That question left unanswered, as it must always be, the focus then shifts to home:
As she floats in the kitchen
I’m tasting the smell
Of toast as the butter runs
Then she comes, spilling crumbs on the bed
When The Enthusiast was a tot, his notion of a perfect Christmas morning had more to do with towering stacks of presents. To an older and (arguably) wiser Enthusiast, tasting the smell of toast as the butter runs while Mrs. Enthusiast spills crumbs on the bed is something infinitely more glorious.
And what have we here?
We are our own saviors
As we start both our hearts beating life into each other
Søren Kierkegaard reminds us, "All belief begins with doubt." A tip of the hat to Humanism is a welcome reminder that Christmas is a big tent, not a room behind a velvet rope.
A Final Gift
The last two lines make the case incontrovertibly:
And it’s only the giving
That makes you what you are.
And that, my friends, is about as profound a summary of the Christmas spirit as you’ll find in the entire holiday canon. Here’s to you, Jethro Tull, and to the joy of discovering a truly transcendent Christmas song snuggled up for all these years on track 5 of the Aqualung album from 1971.
Number six in a series.
6 December 2020
The Enthusiast (email@example.com) is the pen name of critic Michael Collins. He reports back only on what’s good, never what’s bad. He is currently imbued with the holiday spirit.