The 11th day: Always Winter

Continuing my Christmas music thread, it's time for song number two.

Song: In Like a Lion (Always Winter)
Artist: Relient K
Album: Apathetic EP (also on their Christmas album)

Winter is a funny thing. People's opinion of winter is about as split as public opinion of anything these days. There's no middle ground. It's either an abomination or it's the most wonderful time of the year. Depends on who you talk to.

Here in North Idaho, winter often seems to be a neverender. There is a chain e-mail that's been passed around that is a NI version of "you might be a redneck if..." One of the jokes in the message states: you might be from North Idaho if the four seasons are almost winter, winter, still winter, and road construction. Such an exaggeration, but there is a shard of truth there. North Idaho winters can be brutal, like an angry rhino on ice skates - it's not pretty.

Actually, it is pretty, in a Thomas Kinkade painting sense of the word. But your satisfaction with North Idaho winters is largely going to depend on your outlook on all things cold and snowy. With five ski areas within two hours of Coeur d'Alene, we're in a winter sports mecca. But for the many that have moved here from California (or in the case of my friend David, Phoenix) it is difficult to adjust to our unbearable winters.

So it seems that winter here is without end. Either you like that fact, or you despise it.

Enter Relient K. Yes, I know they're a punk rock band on a hip-hop label. Yes, I know punk purists would beat on any brat that describes Relient K as punk rawk. So I've given them my own classification: pretty-boy punk. They like power chords, distortion, and snide humor, but they also wear their heart on their sleeves and sing with the pristine voice of a church choir dropout. They can rock a punk beat, but they thrive in their mellower moments.

In Like a Lion (Always Winter) is one of those moments. Inspired by (and originally intended for) The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, the song never quite made it to the post movie compilation album. Yet it is one of my favorite Relient K songs. It's not technically a Christmas song (the lyrics borrow from CS Lewis' story that in Narnia, it's always winter but never Christmas). I think there are a few North Idaho residents that feel that way. Winter starts and never ends. And sometimes we forget about Christmas.

Matt Thiessen (Relient K's frontman) shines in his lyricism as he balances the kiddish joy of the season ("It's always nice to look out the window and see those very first few flakes of snow") with the begrudging acceptance of icy weather ("When February rolls around I'll roll my eyes, turn a cold shoulder to these even colder skies"). We in North Idaho get that. It's gorgeous to look at, but it's cold, and we don't want to drive in it.

And while In Like a Lion is not a Christmas song, it bellies the true meaning of the holiday in a way that is not achieved by many traditional carols. "Yet in the midst of all this ice and snow our hearts stay warm cause they are filled with hope."

When you break down the "true meaning of Christmas," you are left with what should be the true message of Christianity: hope.

These past few years have been a struggle for many people. With a crumbling economy, war raging in places far away from home, roughly 7 out of every 1000 kids in the US in foster care, and friends and family falling victim to cancer and other illnesses... it should be clear that we live in a world hopeless and hoping for something to hope for. We need that message now like a banana split needs ice cream.

While you "Sit here and wish for this world to thaw" it is my wish that you all find ways to spread hope to those around you.

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