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Another Merry Christmas

Another Merry Christmas and our painted old nativity

…Our painted old nativity
Is fragile like the lives we lead
Silently reminding me
God is with us
Another Merry Christmas.
–Amy Grant, Another Merry Christmas, 2016

One day in the early 1980s, my BFF came to school and told me about a new Christian singer she thought I’d like. “Her name is Amy Grant and she sings this song called Fat Baby,” she said.

The following week she brought me a mixtape — my very first — featuring songs from the album. It also included songs by the late Keith Green.

From that day forward, both Grant and Green were my favorites, but Amy most of all. The album cover for Age to Age featured the fresh-faced singer at 22. In soft white, she was pure and romantic; the quintessential godly maiden in every youth pastor’s sermon on chastity and virtue. As we listened to her songs and collected her albums, we aspired to be like her: wholesome and beautiful. We even replicated the frizzy curls she tamed into long dark tendrils. Oh, how we loved you, Spiral Perm.

We believed in Amy’s innocence so much so that it helped fortify our own. We trusted in it as a magnet that would attract God’s perfect will for our lives: one godly man who would love us forever.

In December 1997, my first husband and I went to see Amy Grant in concert. She wore a snowy white gown with fur trim and talked about how much she wished she could make time stand still. And, it was my wish, too. After all, it’s when you’re moving that the wheels come off. Things can unexpectedly break apart.

In June 1999, amidst great controversy, Grant’s divorce from her first husband became final. Many Christian bookstores and radio stations refused to sell her records or play her songs. This scandal was all but lost on me, however, because in July of that same year things in my own life broke apart. The dissolution of dreams, the perils of custody. It all tracked with that girl from the mixtape. But, if they tracked with her they tracked even more with her ex-husband, Gary Chapman, the extraordinary songwriter who wrote Father’s Eyes.

“From my vantage point, we had one irreconcilable difference,” Chapman said in a 2001 interview with CCM Magazine. “I wanted her to stay, and she wanted to leave. Everything else, God could have reconciled.”

On Friday night, I popped into Ruth’s Christian Bookstore to pick up a copy of Amy Grant’s new album Tennessee Christmas. It features a new song I really like, Another Merry Christmas. Unfortunately, many Christian bookstores have refused to carry the album. According to Jennifer Cooke, Grant’s manager, stores don’t think the album is Christian enough. Cooke penned an insightful editorial about it for the Washington Post. It’s really good. You should read it.

More than 30 years ago, Grant and Chapman wrote Tennessee Christmas. In an interview with the Nashville Country Daily, Grant talked about meeting up with her former husband to talk about the new album. “The first Christmas song I ever wrote was with Gary,” she said. “We met for coffee and I got to give him the good news that I had recorded that song again and we toasted with our coffee cups. It was so, so wonderful.”

A lot can happen in 30 years — something all Gen-Xers have now lived plenty long enough to say. Our lives and relationships, marked by irreconcilable differences, are being summoned for restoration. It’s what Christmas is all about as explained in Hark! The Herald Angels Sing: Peace on earth and mercy mild. God and sinners reconciled.

Reconciliation is not a promise that all that has been lost in this life will be restored to us in its original condition. Instead, reconciliation offers us this miracle — that while still living with the loss we can be restored to a place of friendship and peace.


Lyrics to Another Merry Christmas by Amy Grant

Mary’s in a nursing home
She puts her favorite records on
Reminds her of the years long gone
Another Merry Christmas

Billy’s home from overseas
The pride of his whole family
Still fights a war that no one sees
Another Merry Christmas

It’s happy and sad
The good and the bad
Someone’s up, someone’s barely hanging on
It’s everything all at once
If we’re honest enough
Everybody wants to be loved

Every year on Christmas Eve
Jill hangs four stockings
Now just three
Wonders if there’ll ever be
Another Merry Christmas

Our painted old nativity
Is fragile like the lives we lead
Silently reminding me
God is with us
Another Merry Christmas

Gen X Blog Jennifer Chronicles

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4 Comments

  1. Shel Harrington

    A beautiful post, Jen. Poignant in so many ways. I wish for you, indeed, another Merry Christmas!

    Reply
  2. Bryon

    You are quite the writer. Thank you for sharing your gift and generational musings with us. I grew up listening to Amy as well, along with Keith Green, Steve Taylor….and others. The 80s were a fun time for Christian “contemporary”. I look forward to listening to Amy’s new album.

    ps. Of course…you could blog on the dangers of listening to Stryper…. lol.

    Reply
  3. Jan

    I have loved Amy’s music for years and have attended many of her concerts. I always love to hear the story behind each of Amy’s songs. And I love to hear she and Gary met and had coffee. How wonderful they can do that!

    Reply
    • Jennifer

      I thought it was wonderful, too. She will always be one of my very favorites.

      Reply

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