Chimneyside Chats with Brittain Ashford


Gather 'round the open fire for Chimneyside Chats - a monthly feature with holiday stories from our favorite artists. See what's in their stockings this year as they reminisce on Christmas memories, share their favorite recipe and more! Here's what folk-pop artist Brittain Ashford  had to say:

When I was younger I didn't exactly have an affinity for the holidays.

Holidays meant family members bickering about where we were going for Christmas dinner, something not getting completed on time or the vague feeling of childish jealousy upon hearing about all the cool stuff that friends and classmates received over the break. At the tender age of seven, the holidays stressed me out.

But moving away from the city where I grew up I was able to return to a different scene: the house where I was raised decked out in plastic garland, the modest Christmas tree set up on a wooden chest to appear more grand from the picture window facing the street. Upon the mantle there was a collection of Dickon's Village cottages, those little light up ceramic houses; a version of magic that I don't think I was truly able to appreciate as a kid.

Last year, shortly before Thanksgiving, I found myself again in my hometown. These days it's not so much home as it is the city I grew up in. My father passed a few years ago and my mother recently sold the family home and relocated. As I observed the city from an unfamiliar perch, I found myself thinking about "the holidays" and what it meant to be "home". Cup of coffee in hand, watching the sun come up, I noticed a young family getting their kids ready for school. I was sobbing. There happened to be ukulele there and, quickly enough, I was able to articulate a lot of my feelings:

So light up the fire and tell me you're dreaming about a time when we were just kids
and it was easier to love and be loved.

I made a quick voice memo and sent it to one of my songwriting collaborators, Matt Bauer. By the time the day was done the song was written and we were feverishly working on the production. Could we possibly get it out in time for Christmas?

In the moment I was wrestling with notions of home and holidays but also politics and the feeling that there is so much garbage in the world.

Now the world is in trouble and I'm just reflecting on the change I could make,
but I'm still collecting my thoughts on this silent night.

If you listen at the end you can even hear a little reference to the John/Yoko song, “Happy Christmas (War is Over)”.

These days I can think fondly about my family and the place I grew up-- cats pulling ornaments from the tree, how excited my dad would get about donning a Santa hat and handing out presents. The plastic garland, the modest tree. The house on the street that we grew up on.

Even when your heart is grieving and you can't fight the feeling that it's just tinsel and snow, with no place to go, remember: we can change everything.
Learn more about Brittain Ashford and listen to her song "Tinsel and Snow" on our Chimneyside Chats playlist!