Key Takeaway: This song returns to the true meaning and purpose of Christmas by describing a much more mature and wise wish list that is not just for ourselves, but is also for others. I invite you to imbibe the spirit of the Grown-Up Christmas List and fulfill not just our own Grown-Up Christmas Lists, but those of others as well.
The Christmas rush has surely taken over all of us by now, as the birthday of Our Lord Jesus Christ draws nearer. We adults must be busy asking our young ones in the family what they want for Christmas – or getting them what we think are thoughtful gifts for them. We, on the other hand, may be musing about our own wish lists as well. I, myself, want The Honourable Nigella Lawson’s new book, Simply Nigella, which came out just this autumn… among others.
For the past two Christmases (and the birthdays before them), I’ve been wanting only one thing, and it seems that I finally got it this year… praise the Lord! But even what I felt to be a wish list à la Solomon when God spoke to him when he first became king pales to this Christmas wish list.
I previously wrote a post about another kind of bucket list, one inspired me by my good friend and mentor Jio Victorino. This is kind of like the Christmas version of it, I guess – although it should go beyond Christmas and be fulfilled every day! The song’s narrator recounts how she used to sit on Santa Claus’s knee and tell him of her “childhood fantasies”. She admits she is grown up now, but still needs his help to fulfill a different kind of Christmas list:
“No more lives torn apart / That wars would never start / And time would heal all hearts / And everyone would have a friend / That right would always win / And love would never end / This is my grown-up Christmas list.”
The Christmas list is in line with the original meaning of Christmas: that everyone be saved and return to the Lord. God sent Jesus to the world to be a message of His love – and so does this Christmas list. It calls for – in this order – joy, peace, forgiveness, care, justice, and love. This truly is the Christmas list of Christmas lists, the one we should all pray for that should happen to the world. It is perhaps the wisest song that David Foster, a favorite musician of mine, has written.
This version shown above and in the Featured Photo depicts Amy Grant’s version. She covered it in 1992 and it became one of her signature (Christmas) hits – however, she was not the original performer. It was Natalie Cole, two years back. Amy Grant, however, rewrote the second stanza’s lyrics, which perhaps mirrors the story in the first verse more (a child reminiscing on their childhood desires, then thinking of what they are truly, now):
“As children we believe / The grandest sight to see / Was something lovely wrapped beneath the tree / But heaven surely knows / That packages and bows / Can never heal a hurting human soul.”
The narrator, as a presumably wiser adult, now realizes that brightly-colored wrapped material presents under the tree can only do so much, and that the social cancer of humanity will never be solved by such gifts; only the Grown-Up Christmas List can (besides praying to God as exemplified in the song “Lord, Heal Our Land” by Tom and Robin Brooks, popularized here in the Philippines by Jamie Rivera as the unofficial anthem of EDSA II).
The original verse is more straightforward and seems to be a prayer that builds on the chorus. It also implies asking for courage and strength to take the initiative to start fulfilling that Grown-Up Christmas List:
“May kindness rule our lives / Not just the strong survive / Sweet tears for all the thousand years gone by / This is the world I pray / We will all share someday / Help me begin by reaching out my hand.”
I love both verses equally and can’t decide which to sing whenever Caroling season comes by – although by experience, thanks to the only instrumental backing track I have, it is Amy Grant’s that we use. However, my favorite version of the song is the duet between Jed Madela and Regine Velasquez. They use the original lyrics and perform the song with so beautiful and emotional an arrangement that it always brings tears to my eyes every time I hear it.
As social consciousness followers, we ought to adapt the Grown-Up Christmas List as our own Christmas lists, and work towards helping achieve it not just for us, but for everyone. For what worth is having this Christmas wish list if we are not to do it for the sake of others? How can we enjoy a world of love and peace if it is going to be a selfish world? They are asymptotic – they can never meet.
Have a blessed Christmas season ahead!
“Grown-Up Christmas List” was written by David Foster and Linda Thompson-Jenner, and first performed by Natalie Cole on vocals for Foster’s 1990 non-holiday album River of Love. Amy Grant covered it in 1992 for her second Christmas album Home for Christmas, and rewrote the second stanza’s lyrics; thus, she has co-writing credits on her version and all others based on such.