It’s my favorite time of the year, once again.
Yes, I’m saying that with all the sarcasm I can muster.
I don’t hate the holidays. What I hate is not being allowed to ignore the holidays.
Every year, the reminders that CHRISTMAS IS COMING! begin a little earlier. Sales that used to be touted as “Christmas in July” now simply begin as early Christmas sales … in July.
(I don’t believe there is a War on Christmas, but if there is, every year Christmas gets its opening assault in a little earlier.)
Still, even that is essentially ignorable, even as the commercial forwardness increases as Thanksgiving approaches, peaking as ever on “Black Friday” before settling into a month of daily reminders of the remaining shopping days before Christmas, with one blissful day of silence on December 25th before returning, zombie-like, as “After-Christmas Sales!” leading up to January 1st, when the themetatic tide changes to sales celebrating the arrival of the New Year.
Annoying, but again, I can tune them out for the most part (even the insipid TV ads, to which the life of the most festive, Christmas-cheer-saturated, eggnog-drenched holiday exuberant existentialist fails in comparison to the over-the-top holiday expressionism placed on display.)
(Tune them out; yes. Hate them; overwhelmingly yes.)
However, what I’m not able to escape is the omnipresent, ever-intrusive Christmas carol.
At some point in the fall, they start to creep out and begin to be heard, like frogs emerging from hibernation; jarring, like the sudden snore of an untreated apneac. I’ll be listening to the radio on the way to work, or casually choosing my week’s worth of what I convince myself is healthy food at the grocery store, when without warning … the sounds of jingle bells will be heard.
While I’m usually not in a position to take a measurement to verify, I’m certain this causes an alarming spike in my blood pressure.
As autumn progresses, the carols become more and more common, although many times the deluge doesn’t truly begin until the day after Thanksgiving, which makes sense, as there are no longer reasons for thanks to be given once an endless repetition of songs about Santa and snow and trees takes over the airwaves.
(One radio station local to me proudly begins playing Christmas carols on October 1st, excitedly reminding listeners that it’s carols 24 hours a day, seven days a week, all the way until Christmas day!)
(Coincidentally, October 1st is also the day I reprogram my radio presets to exclude that station.)
Maybe I wouldn’t hate carols so much if there were more than five. Really, that’s all there seem to be- the same five carols that have been recorded and re-recorded again, and again, and again.
Sometimes, I can hear the same carol three times in a row, done by a different group.
Really though, I can’t blame the artists. Recording a Christmas Carol is a sure-fire way to have a song in heavy rotation every single year. Forever.
But it seems to be so … repetitive. Which I realize is a function of rotation, but still.
I’ve already heard “Silent Night” uncountable times this year. Ironic, really, because that’s just what I’d like to have.
Occasionally, a group will come out with a new song. Sometimes, this song even manages to be popular. Usually because the befuddled masses become entranced by this shiny new addition to the Rudolphs and Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree (probably the carol I hate the most. Seriously – what exactly is a “new old-fashioned way”? That’s just illogical.) Like them or not, they’re now here to stay.
But for every “Last Christmas”, there’s 30 versions of “White Christmas”. “Christmas Wrappings” begets five more versions of “Blue Christmas” with each play (I looked up the number of versions, and lost count around 46). I’m sure both the white and blue songs were created because neither Irving Berlin nor Billy Hayes could stomach hearing “Winter Wonderland” one more time.
Even “Rudolph” and the despised “Rockin’” were new once.
(Just how a 13-year-old Brenda Lee managed to sound like a 65-year-old whiskey-soaked spinster with a three-pack-a-day habit may forever be a mystery. At the very least, it’s probably the most unusual of Christmas miracles.)
I was even there in the early 80s when Elmo & Patsy released the zeitgeistenal “Grandma got run over by a reindeer” to the world, annoying grandmothers and nearly everyone else for nigh unto 40 years and the unforeseeable future.
(I actually rather like that one. The original, deadpan version; not the dreadful slapstick re-recording that came out soon after.)
(Then again, I can count the number of carols I really like on one hand. Even if I lost a finger. Or hand.)
I’ll grant that the dearth of new carols may be caused more by limitation than lack of creativity- there’re only so many permutations of combinations of the words Christmas, Snow, Night, Santa, or … well, that’s about all there is, really.
So what’s a Christmas Curmudgeon to do? I’ve already determined there’s no escape, and even if I were to embrace the holidays; fully, unequivocally, wholeheartedly embrace them, I’ll never be able to achieve the ideals represented in your average Christmas jewelry commercial.
I’m an adult, and as such, I am perfectly capable of divining a way to handle these months of musical torture; one that does not require driving in silence or avoiding groceries until January 2nd.
I’ll start by making a large batch of cookie dough. But not cookies- no, just the dough will be enough.
Then, I’ll sit there, in my darkened living room, sullenly eating spoons of cookie dough while watching the burnt-out yule log channel on TV. Muted, of course.
And I’ll stay there, silently, until the cookie dough is gone and I can face the world’s festivities once again.
(I have it on good authority from people I pay to listen to me that this is an acceptable and not uncommon activity.)
If there is a war on Christmas, I’m convinced it was started by Christmas as an excuse to beat everything else up and prove how tough it is.
So I’ll remain, ‘til the night before Christmas, when all through the house, nothing will be stirring, except me – another batch of sugar cookie dough.
Only six more shopping days to go.