Storytellers: “What, Then, is Christmas?”

I wanted to present an “Offering” edition of North Side Storytellers for the song, “What, Then, is Christmas?”  Take it away, bud:

Guest Blogger: Woody Nivens


Christmas was a very special time for me as a kid. It was my mother’s favorite time of the year. She would spend days decorating our house, and she always enjoyed hosting Christmas parties. I can remember vividly my family hanging ornaments on our tree while “Frosty,” “Rudolph,” or “Charlie Brown” would play on TV.

Santa would leave my stocking by my bed, so when I woke up Christmas morning I would grab it, run into my sister’s room, and we would look through all of those goodies. We weren’t allowed into the den until we had eaten our traditional breakfast of mom’s Christmas toast.

As I grew older my focus of Christmas turned from Santa’s gifts to God’s gift. But this shift in focus actually made me more excited about Christmas than I was as a child. After college, however, I began to notice that more and more people seemed to put less and less emphasis on Jesus at Christmastime. Wal-Mart would have Christmas decorations on sale in October. Television was full of ads for things to buy that would make this Christmas the best one ever. And next year, we had to make Christmas better than last year’s. People would get in a frenzy over the food they had to cook or preparations they had to make for this party and that party. I would get stressed just watching everyone else get stressed. And then I would wonder what these people felt when they woke up on December 26.

The song “What, Then, is Christmas” was written because of my frustrations over how those around me were handling this wonderful occasion. I wanted people to really get what Christmas was about. I remember going for a walk one cold December night almost 20 years ago, and it was during that walk that this song was born. It was very therapeutic for me, and I never really intended it for public consumption. To be honest, I wasn’t a real big fan of my own songwriting skills.

The next week, our pastor approached me and asked me if I would sing a Christmas song during the Sunday night service. I agreed, and ended up singing “What, Then, is Christmas” for the first time.

You can get your copy of this song in the North Side bookstore, iTunes, and soon Amazon.