Christmas Greetings

I have always loved Christmas. I remember one magical Christmas Eve walking with my older brother, Jim, through the deep snow to serve at midnight mass. It was my debut. I was so excited! I can still hear the distant church bells as we scrunched for a long way through the thick snow. All around, the silence of the night, the piercing chill wind, the distant lights surrounded us. After mass, we met our family and friends, wishing one to the other a wonderful Christmas.

I was not disinterested by presents but, for me, the lasting beauty of Christmas has always been the way in which it transforms people’s lives and creates a deep sense of mutual affection and love. Even today I get that lovely warm feeling when I see my grandchildren’s eyes light up with wonder at all things tinselly and sparkly. It makes the world a better place.

For me, it is a time of deep nostalgia too because most of the people who inhabited those places when I was a child and, indeed, most of the places themselves, are long since gone. It still manages to stir something of profound meaning and deep gratitude in my heart.

One particular Christmas Carol never fails to bring a tear to my eye. Consequently, I went to the piano and recorded it as a way of expressing my warmest Christmas wishes to each and every one of you. Now, which Carol could it be?

Thanks very much Anne for your guest article. Lovely to hear about your choir days and about your and Tony’s favourite Carols xx❤️

You’ve Got a Friend in Me

You’ve Got a Friend in Me
Music by Randy Newman; arranged for piano solo by John McGuinness

This delightful song was revived this year with the release of the film “Toy Story 4”. You may be asking why this particular song found its way into a wedding album. It is a personal favourite of mine and, despite its sentimental flavour, it speaks charmingly of friendship and love. I watched the original “Toy Story” films with my little grandchildren and I still have fond memories of singing the title song with them. It also has a special meaning for David & Steph and, of course, friendship lies at the root of all loving relationships.

For me, the enduring appeal of the song resides in the fact that most of us, early in our lives, had special toys that we bonded with. They were a profound part of our lives, becoming the central focus of our imaginative play. They acted as a sort of half-way house between our provisional attempts to separate from our primary attachment figures (e.g. mum and dad) and our journey towards the broader world of relationships.

Through our special toys, we could safely and unconsciously project all our worst fears, anxieties, hopes, desires and loves onto them and so learn to manage our feelings. We could also “bring them to life”, to hug and comfort us. We could even tell them off in order to gain some kind of control and they would look back at us and speak to us with our own voices. We would hug them and they would hug us back, thus protecting us from the “monsters” of the night. Sadly, some children never get to experience this and as a psychologist, this thought would bring more than a tug to my heartstrings.

Perhaps the above explains the enduring appeal of these films. They cut deeper than we think because they take us back to all our own infantile needs and wants and fears and anxieties. The films remind us that we learned, through our toys, to find love and enduring companionship in the world – a world that, even now, as older children and adults, often conspires to make our lives more difficult.

The “Toy Story” films are full of fun and humour, something else we develop through our play with others – but that is another “story” in itself! “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” is a song full of this fun. In my view, it is a small and enduring classic and for all the above reasons I decided to make it the first song on “Wedding Album”.

If you enjoy my piano version, please sing along, like this post and share it with your friends and family. You might like to share some of your own “Toy Stories” along with your thoughts on the song (in the comments section below).