“It’s coming on Christmas
They’re cutting down trees,
They’re putting up reindeer,
And singing songs of joy and peace.
I wish I had a river I could skate away on.” –Joni Mitchell
Joni Mitchell, the voice of the people… the voice of me at least. There is a line in the movie Love, Actually where Emma Thompson’s character is talking about Ms. Mitchell and she states, “She taught your cold, English wife how to feel.” I won’t go so far as to say that without her I wouldn’t know how to feel, but I will say that she puts words to a lot of feelings that I have and don’t know how to express. The feeling, for instance, of wanting to flee the holiday scene. Now, don’t get me wrong, I enjoy Christmas. I love the decorations and the lights. I love buying gifts for people and wrapping them. However, I hate the rush. I hate the crowds. I hate the compulsion to make everyone happy when I know that particular task is impossible. Sometimes I wish I could escape it all. In the song, she wants to skate away on a river. When I was younger, I liked the picture the song created in my head, but I never really thought about the symbolism of the river. A river goes on and on. A pond or a lake is closed– you have a certain distance you can go, and then you have to circle back. A river though, a river just continues. Tom and Jim found it to be a means of escape, and many other fictional characters have also found their way down rivers to freedom from whatever they are running from. Rivers are endless. They change and flow and take you somewhere else. “I wish I had a river I could skate away on.” I wish I could get away; I wish I could escape; I wish I could run. That’s the way I feel right now. To get away from the hectic part of the holidays and to just sit and enjoy the twinkling lights would be an amazing gift– to skate away on a river, and to somehow find peace and tranquility, still enjoying the winter season, but running fast from everything else.