Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Christmas music, Christmas spirit, Christmas burnout

Good Lord, I am sick of Christmas music already!

Now, I don't really mind the peace-on-earth-goodwill-to-all aspect of Christmas and the Christmas season.  It's actually kind of nice.  But the commercialism is hideous, of course, and has somehow managed to start around Halloween instead of right after Thanksgiving.

And the trappings of the commercialism have also become unpleasant.  All of the traditional bits and folk-customs have been co-opted by the commercialism, and so even trees, holly, wreathes, mistletoe, and the myth of Santa have become kind of repulsive to me. 

And yes, I understand that I may feel this way partly because it isn't "my" holiday.  On the other hand, Jews could not possibly make Chanukah, or any other Jewish holidays, as obnoxious to non-believers as Christmas.  Would I find Christmas less disturbing if my co-workers were talking about how much they looked forward to being with their families, or felt moved to commit to charitable causes, or let problems roll of their backs owing to the feelings of peacefulness that come with the season?  Sure.  How do I feel when they talk about how much they're annoyed by family gatherings or dislike this or that family member, or when the lunchtime conversation is largely about shopping?  Guess.

And without even going into detail about the knee-jerk over-decorating so dear to this borough...let's talk about Christmas music.  One of the women in my office plays internet radio all day, generally a station with a decent mix of 70s-00s.  Around the beginning of the month, she asked if Christmas music was OK, and trying to be agreeable, I said of course not -- not quite realizing that this was going to be pretty much an entire month of Christmas music.  She found an all-Christmas-music, all-day station.

Most Christmas songs are more of the heavy mantle of commercialism that has muffled any genuine "Christmas spirit."  Plus there are only so many Christmas songs.  And of course, no one is playing anything like The Messiah or other "serious" religious/classical/spiritual music.  About the closest thing to that kind of class is Pachelbel's (sp?) Canon, which has become as nauseatingly omnipresent as" Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer."  And a re-recording of, say, "I'll Be Home for Christmas", is not much of an improvement on the original.  A few really excellent songs, like Irving Berlin's "White Christmas," have simply been overplayed to the 90th degree.

There are a couple of Christmas songs I actually like hearing, maybe because they're newer (relatively speaking), and have only recently made it into the canon of mainstream Christmas music.  One, of course, is Bruce Springsteen's version of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town," which I think was recorded in the 80s.  That one plays on the Christmas-music station (which I think is Lite-FM, re-purposed for the season).  Another is "Last Christmas," which I think is a Wham song -- never heard it before they sang it on Glee last week, but it's a decent song (although I may be sick of it by the time New Year's rolls around).  The third OK one is "Wonderful Christmastime" by Paul McCartney, which is a mite corny but at least it's a Beatle.

I'm not a humbugger, really, but the closest I've felt to having any kind of "holiday spirit" were the couple of times I spent Christmas day serving meals to needy people in a church basement.  I'd love to see the shoppers and decorators do something like that.  Or instead of buying gifts, making charitable donations.  That's a Christmas spirit I could get behind.

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