I have a friend who listens to Christmas music all year round, or so he claims. I do love Christmas music, though I prefer the emotions it would stir up when I was a kid, a time when all I really had to do was tear open gifts. The older I got, the less I appreciated Christmas for the "It's A Wonderful Life" or even the Kramden/Norton moments of the holiday season, and instead focused more on the undue pressures and disappointments that seemed to accompany holidays. The carols only made it worse.
I have vivid memories of visiting friends and family on Christmas Eve, on what seemed like an endless night of happiness that always had fluffy white snow and colored lights as we either walked or drove from house to house. I swear I saw carolers, too. Even as late as my teenage years and early 20's, I'd be bustling around in a mall with friends, looking for last minute gifts and not minding any of it. We'd always stop for a beer with our baggage and bulky winter coats, scrunching up as close to the bar as possible, all while being soundtracked by an endless supply of Christmas hits that seemed to be magically piped in to each of us individually. No one minded. Just add sleigh bells and we were hooked.
There was also a brief period in the late 70's and early 80's, when I'd attend a midnight mass. The church organ and pageantry of it all was as warm and wonderful as anything associated with Christmas, even if I awoke a day later, as Mr. Non-Believer once more. For that hour though, it was hard not to believe.
I don't feel that too much anymore, though I'd like to. Even the most absurd, non-traditional Christmas songs, like Spiraling's mash-up of "Do You Hear What I Hear" with The Who's "Baba O'Riley" can bring a sudden rush of melancholy instead of joy. And this year? Forget about it! A pine-scented Christmas tree air freshener dangling from a rear view mirror can do me in emotionally, so forget about Christmas music all year round. I'd just as soon slap down some Motorhead and be done with it.
The next week is going to be tough for many of us, for one reason or another. It comes with the territory, even pre-pandemic. But we will make it. We always do, don't we? I won't be doing my annual Polar Bear swim in Coney Island on New Year's Day. It's one more event, canceled for good reason. But that also means I won't have a symbolic cleansing. A washing away of the old. An ice cold rebirth. And this is one year I need it most. Maybe I'll just sit in a bathtub of cold gin on New Year's Day instead.
I hope Christmas of 2021 will be a time we can look back and wonder how we ever thought the yuletide season was anything but the best time of the year. Maybe next year, I won't fight back the melancholy with a Deep Purple record, and just allow "Silver Bells" and "O Holy Night" to do their thing.
Whatever your perfect Christmas is, I hope it finds you.