It doesn’t have jingle bells or sleigh rides. It doesn’t have any references to the Christ Child. It contains not a mention of Santa and his reindeer. It doesn’t have any overt references to Christmas at all. But I say Adele’s “Hello” is the best Christmas song of 2015.
It’s the song we need right now, and whether we know it or not—whether it was intended to be or not—“Hello” offers us a message from the Divine.
As far as I can tell, Adele may be the only voice this holiday season urging us to say, “I’m sorry.” From the first plaintive words of the song, we hear Adele describe the shame each of us knows and perhaps feels acutely during the holidays.
Hello, it’s me
I was wondering if after all these years you’d like to meet
To go over everything
They say that time’s supposed to heal ya
But I ain’t done much healing
The song implies the words are intended for a lost love, but they could just as easily apply to an estranged child, parent or family member.
Today we can destroy relationships with a tap on our smart phones and share with the world our worst selves by clicking a mouse. We don’t think twice before posting unfiltered feelings, and because our news feed never stops, we never stop to apologize. Only when we see the empty chair across from us at the holiday meal do we take time to think about what we’ve done to hurt others.
Adele’s apologetic anthem seems like it’s from another time period. Perhaps that’s why the makers of the song’s video chose to have both her and her estranged lover use flip phones. In the video, Adele even uses a phone plugged into the wall! We’ve lost the art of apologizing via a phone call, much less through a face-to-face conversation.
Sometimes an apology by text just won’t cut it. As Adele sings, It’s no secret that both of us are running out of time. Surely this holiday season I’m not the only one with the nagging sense that I’m running out of time to say, “I’m sorry.”
This holiday season when news of mass shootings and vitriolic campaign speeches are piled on top of the usual overindulgence and rampant consumerism, Adele’s “Hello” speaks to a desire in each of us to make right what we have done to hurt those around us.
Saturday Night Live adeptly parodied the power of this song in a skit that had relatives around the Thanksgiving dinner table arguing over Syrian refugees and Black Lives Matter suddenly transformed when Adele’s “Hello” is played on a nearby boombox.
Family members bitterly parroting cable talk show pundits each become “Adeles” complete with the fur coat and nail polish she wore in her video. In 2015, maybe the stunning popularity of this song is because we are all “Adeles” concerned that it is too late to say, “I’m sorry.”
Chase Peeples is pastor of Country Club Congregational United Church of Christ along with a bunch of other things including a father, a husband and a friend.