Blues Traveler’s “Christmas” was first found on A Very Special Christmas 3 (a great anthology of Christmas music proceeds of which go to the Special Olympics). The lyrics can be reviewed here.
The song talks about how the singer is not so happy (If this is feeling merry / how much longer must it last), he wants to be happy because it’s Christmas time, how happiness will come regardless of his own actions, and how, to the singer, Christmas can mean whatever you want it to mean – let’s focus on the peace on Earth thing. Where do I even begin?
The song opens with a sad singer talking about how he wants to be taken away this Christmas. He said he was hoping for something to cheer him up. The lyrics go: “Now excuse me if I’m not being reverent / But I was hoping for a miracle to hold me, wash me /Save me from my righteous doubt as I watch helpless / And everybody sings…”
We all want that miracle, that perfect moment to make us happy in life. That thing in life which will make us happy. All that is vanity (Ecclesiastes 2:11, Ecclesiastes 5:10-11). Things of this world, the desires of this world cannot fully satisfy you (1 John 2:15-17). These “miracles” you’re asking for to provide satisfaction as the world appears happy are meaningless without Christ. Christ is the living water which quenches all our thirst (John 4:10-14). In Him we find the secret of being content when we have a lot or a little, that secret is Christ (Philippians 4:11-13).
The song continues from there to the chorus where it says, “If it’s Chanukah or Kwanza / Solstice, harvest or December twenty-fifth / Peace on earth to everyone / And abundance to everyone you’re with…”
There is something to be said about wanting peace for all mankind. Wanting all to be content. This part of the song a play on Luke 2:14 which speaks of glory to God and peace toward men who sought the favor of God. But, as mentioned above there will be true contentment with Jesus Christ. One day this peace will come and every knee will bow before Christ (Isaiah 45:22-23, Philippians 2:9-11). On that day, the Lord will dwell among us and there will be no more shame, tears, or pain (Revelation 21:3-5). Until that day, we are forced to live on this fallen earth. There will be no true peace until Christ returns.
The next verse begins by talking about how your past shapes your present. The lyrics read, “Comes the time for Christmas / And as you raise your Yuletide flask / There’s like this feeling that you carry / As if from every Christmas past / It’s as if each year it grows / It’s like you feel it in your toes / And on and on your carol goes / Harvesting love among your woes…”
In essence, the singer is saying that our past at Christmas is trying to fill us with the joy, more so each year. What does the Bible say about our past? It depends. It says Christ will forget our past sins if we seek Him (Isaiah 43:25, 1 John 1:9). It also states that we are born again (John 3:3-6), changed by Christ when we are saved (Galatians 2:20). Our old selves are lost and our new self, our whole self in Christ is born anew when we accept Him. If our past was filled with dedication to Christ, then it makes sense that it would continue to build toward a stronger embracing of Jesus. If it did not, we pray it is washed clean and we move ahead toward the ultimate prize – Jesus (Philippians 3:13-14).
Now, as has been made obvious by the song so far – this song is a secular Christmas song. That is hammered home by these lyrics, “Christmas can mean anything / And I mean to keep its hope forever near.”
I’m sorry, Blues Traveler, but you’re wrong. Christmas cannot mean anything, it has one meaning and one meaning alone.
Christmas is about the birth of Christ (Luke 2:1-20). It is about our remembrance that a virgin gave birth to a Son (Luke 1:29-35), as prophesied long ago (Isaiah 7:14). This Son would wipe away the sins of mankind (Matthew 1:20-23, John 1:29) through His death and defeat of death forever (1 Peter 1:18-19). He would defeat the serpent as predicted by God all the way back in Genesis (Genesis 3:15).
For the Christian, Christmas has one meaning and one meaning alone – Jesus. The world can take their false version of Christmas with the generic “love, happiness, and gift giving.” They are wrong. The true joy of Christmas is Jesus Himself. He is the greatest gift of Christmas, not anything bought at the store, and not even Blues Traveler can deny this truth. You see it subtly toward the end of the song when during their rendition of the song in a round, there’s one vocalist (all John Popper) who is singing, “Glory to the new born King.” The new born King is Christ. To Him be all the glory.