As a Christmas gift to everyone who reads this, I’d like to explain why “John Denver and The Muppets” is the best Christmas TV special and the best Christmas album EVER. To my surprise, when I searched on Twitter for “John Denver and The Muppets,” I found I was not alone in my opinion.
For the people who have recently started following me on my blog, you must first know that my wife of almost 42 years, Nancy Krause Gale, passed away in March after a four-year battle against colon cancer. When our children were growing up in the 1980’s, The Muppets were a big deal, and this album became a favorite for us over the years. This is the first Christmas without her in my life since 1970.
Some background: “John Denver and The Muppets: A Christmas Together” aired on TV on December 5, 1979. It was never shown again. The soundtrack album of the same name was released on October 1979, originally with ten tracks, but then was rereleased in 2006 with 13 tracks. A video of the TV special was just added to YouTube in November 2012. It has only 371,177 views, which is criminal. Here is a link to the video:
You can buy the album on iTunes for $9.99 and read about it on Wikipedia.
Like “A Charlie Brown Christmas”, I wonder if this TV special could be made today. It is both entertaining and thought provoking, funny and serious, heartwarming and silly, and, most importantly, Christian and Spiritual.
I want to give you the lyrics to just three songs to highlight the rare combination of Christian Christmas and Spiritual Christmas. In this time of religious conflict in the world, John Denver and The Muppets show us a way to a more loving, peaceful, harmonious, and joyful future. I’ve bolded the most meaningful lines to me in the songs.
“When the River Meets the Sea” by Paul Williams
Written for the HBO special “Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas.” This song was sung at Jim Henson’s funeral, and also spoken by Nancy’s sister at Nancy’s funeral in March. I don’t think I need to say anything more about how much this song means to my family and me. Listening to this song again this year filled me with emotion and prompted me to write this post.
When the mountain touches the valley
All the clouds are taught to fly
As our souls will leave this land most peacefully
Though our minds be filled with questions
In our hearts we’ll understand
When the river meets the sea
Like a flower that has blossomed
In the dry and barren sand
We are born & born again most gracefully
Thus the winds of time will take us
With a sure and steady hand
When the river meets the sea
Patience, my brother and patience, my son
In that sweet and final hour
Truth and justice will be done
Like a baby when it is sleeping
In its loving mother’s arms
What a newborn baby dreams is a mystery
But his life will find a purpose
And in time he’ll understand
When the river meets the sea
When the river meets the almighty sea
“The Christmas Wish” by John Denver
This song reinforces my basic belief that God is Love and Love is God. Everyone is welcome to celebrate the Christmas season, no matter what you believe.
I don’t know if you believe in Christmas,
or if you have presents underneath the Christmas tree.
But if you believe in love, that will be more than enough
for you to come and celebrate with me.
For I have held the precious gift that love brings
even though I’ve never saw a Christmas star.
But I know there is a light, I have felt it burn inside,
and I can see it shining from afar.
Christmas is a time to come together, a time to put all differences aside.
And I reach out my hand to the family of man
to share the joy I feel at Christmas time.
For the truth that binds us all together, I would like to say a simple prayer.
That at this special time, you will have true peace of mind
and love to last throughout the coming year.
And if you believe in love, that will be more than enough
for peace to last throughout the coming year.
And peace on earth will last throughout the year.
“Alfie, the Christmas Tree” by John Denver
This is a long and sappy poem so just skip to the bolded stanzas which reminds us to pray for the earth. It’s an important message especially as some people want to mine, drill, and pollute the earth to make more profit.
Did you ever hear the story of the Christmas tree
Who just didn’t want to change the show
He liked living in the woods and playing with squirrels
He liked icicles and snow
He liked wolves and eagles and grizzly bears
And critters and creatures that crawled
Why bugs were some of his very best friends
Spiders and ants and all
Now that’s not to say that he ever looked down
On a vision of twinkled lights
Or on mirrored bubbles and peppermint canes
And a thousand other delights
And he often had dreams of tiny reindeer
And a jolly old man in a sleigh
Full of toys and presents and wonderful things
And a story of Christmas day
Oh, Alfie believed in Christmas alright
He was full of Christmas cheer
All of each and every day
And all throughout the year
To him it was more than a special time
Much more than a special day
It was more than a special story, it was more than a beautiful story
It was a special kind of way
You see some folks have never heard a jingle bell ring
And they’ve never heard of santa claus
They’ve never heard the story of the son of god
That made Alfie pause
Did that mean that they’d never know of peace on earth
Or the brotherhood of man
Or know how to love, or know how to give
If they can’t no one can
You see, life is a very special kind of thing
Not just for a chosen few
But for each and every living, breathing thing
Not just me and you
So when you’re at Christmas prayers this year
Alfie asked me if I’d ask you
Say a prayer for the wind and the water and the wood
And those who live there too
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Merry Whoville Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Solstice Day, Happy Day for everyone!