By my count, I have sung "Jingle Bells" about one million times now, over the course of my life. This qualifies me as an expert, as I'm sure you will agree.
Shortly after my vocal cords ceased to vibrate with the millionth rendition of the popular carol, it occurred to me I have never set foot in a one-horse open sleigh. Or any other kind of sleigh: horsed, open or otherwise. And yet I can belt out
dashing through the snoooooow, in a one-horse open sleeeeeeeigh
with all the breathless gusto of an applecheeked farm lad fumbling to hold the reins in hand-me-down mittens on a frosty midwinter afternoon with the runners swishing swiftly over hills and hummocks of freshly fallen snow.
And no doubt you do it, too. Isn't it strange that "Jingle Bells" is so popular when it has such little relevance to modern life? It's quite magical that we continue, without prompting, to keep ritual and song that go back beyond living memory, connecting us to people and days long gone.
Christmas above all other holidays has the power to freeze the rushing river of time into the glacier of tradition. It gets one all contemplative. It is for me the True Meaning of Christmas, or TMC. Others have their own TMCs, I know, but this is mine.