What's Christmas?

from What's Christmas? by Tunde Olaniran

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about

In 2019, my mom (and I, as a result) experienced a series of family deaths. I saw how deeply these losses affected her and especially how they filled her with sorrow during the holiday season. Later that winter, still meditating on loss and isolation, I wrote “What’s Christmas?”

I never intended to write a song about Christmas or the holiday season. In fact, it’s rare that the melody and lyrics of a song hit me out of nowhere, but that’s what happened. The melody just appeared and a few days later the rest of the words followed. Steve Saputo then sat down with me and so beautifully helped bring it to life by fleshing out the instrumentation I was hearing in my mind. It was written pre-pandemic, but as we began to experience 2020, the sheer amount of loss that I survived as well as witnessed in those around me grew and grew.

So, I’ve had this song for over two years and wasn’t sure if I'd ever release it, especially because I'm not religious at all, but last weekend something in my gut just told me that it should be out in the world.

This song was written as a carol I could sing along with my mom, or with anyone who is experiencing or remembering loss, loneliness, sadness during the holidays. If it resonates with you, I’d love to hear you singing or playing along.

Maybe you’re getting to see someone you haven’t seen for a year or two because of Covid, maybe you’ve got everyone around except the one person you are missing the most, or maybe it’s what you’re singing until you can see them again in a place beyond our physical world. Either way, I’m sending you all love and a song from my heart.

lyrics

what’s christmas to me?
what’s christmas when you’re lonely?
what’s christmas about
when you’re not around?

no carols, no choir
no glow from the fire
when you’re not here
what’s christmas this year?
oooh

i miss you the most
that’s just how it goes
no use for a tree
what’s christmas to me?

on christmas i need
more than memories
there’s snow on the ground
you’re still not around

what’s christmas to me?
what’s christmas when you’re lonely?
what’s christmas about
when you’re not around?
oooh

what’s christmas to me?
what’s christmas when you’re lonely?
what’s christmas about
when you’re not around?

on christmas i need
more than memories
there’s snow on the ground
you’re still not around

i’m waiting for when
you’ll be here again
until we’re near
what’s christmas this year?

credits

from What's Christmas?, released December 17, 2021
Written by Tunde Olaniran
Produced by Tunde Olaniran and Stephen Saputo
Cover Art by Christine Raina

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Tunde Olaniran Flint, Michigan

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