Chimneyside Chats with Wesley David

Graphic created by Lucas Seidel Designs

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 singer/songwriter Wesley David had to say:

So I was 22 years old when I “celebrated” my very first Christmas. Like ya do.

It was a snowy morning in Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania; and it’s a strange thing now to recollect. My life had reflected so much turmoil in the preceding year, having left the Jehovah’s Witness faith (read: cult) in which I was raised. I’d been lucky enough to enroll in community college that autumn, and had been taken in by a truly loving, fascinating family of a single father who was also a meditation teacher and all-around interesting guy.

The details are hazy. I remember him and one of his sons bringing in this large-ish tree a few days prior; I remember the youngest son (who I was video game pals with) hanging ornaments. I don’t remember if I gave or got anything; and maybe this is an anticlimactic story because when you leave a crazy religious group, your mind….isn’t quite working all the time. Sometimes it’s on fire; sometimes you feel like you’re living in a dream, and nothing is really that...real.

It was probably a little of both, because the more interesting story is the years prior; on more than one occasion in our sleepy Pennsylvania town, I remember distinctly the eerie feeling of driving by people’s decorated houses on Christmas Eve, thinking an assortment of paranoid, existential thoughts like “wow, all these poor saps are about to die soon.” The Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that all holidays are “Pagan”, of the devil, and the end of the world is actually coming almost any day now. People’s decorations are like a symbol of the devil’s work; that’s what you’re taught to believe.

Happily, that was the start of undoing a lot of the damage taught by their religion, and the Christmases after - especially with friends in school (up in Massachusetts the years thereafter) and with my sister were not just easier; they were fun and cathartic (we take a kind of mad, sinister delight in celebrating Christmas and Halloween especially now; as if to say “Ha! We’re heathens!”). We’re 90s sitcom and culture fans, so we share a lot of Festivus jokes too (Seinfeld). One of these years, we’re totally getting a pole and going to tell our guests how much they’ve disappointed everyone (read that in a Frank Costanza voice).

I say this as a now secular person - a *few* Bible lines have stayed with me for sure, like “there’s more happiness in giving than receiving”. I believe that. I’ve gotten wonderful gifts over the years from family and friends, but maybe the best one I’ve been fortunate enough to give was a Nintendo Switch to one of my BFFs last Christmas, and her young son who is like an adopted nephew to me. Unexpectedly - as we were headed towards the world being turned upside down - it allowed us all to play Mario Kart together, and sustained me emotionally during the loneliest times of the pandemic. Mario Kart. Just like I did with my sister once upon a time as kids, and with my buddy (the father’s young son, at the Pennsylvania house when I was 22) all those years back.

What can I say, I’m a dork at heart. Yoshi, Bowser, and Donkey Kong flinging red shells at each other and desperately avoiding Goombas and Piranhas? Hey, for some of us, that’s the spirit of Christmas right there.

Learn more about Wesley David and listen to the song he chose for our Chimneyside Chats playlist!
"Angel of Harlem" by U2