This post comes with another round of disclaimers. The content is not my usual writing about bees, gardens and dogs. During the winter months, I am writing posts for my Out of Left Field collection. My parents, who read my blog, asked for another disclaimer. They are concerned that my readers will think my dislike of Christmas music is tied to my childhood Christmas experiences. For the record, my parents made Christmas awesome. Anything good in me comes from parents. I claim full responsibility for my idiosyncrasies and peculiarities.
This year is the first time I have admitted publicly that I don’t like Christmas music. I mustered the courage to tell my husband several years ago, but I could tell from his reaction that maybe this is not the sort of information that I should share with other people. I have really tried hard to like Christmas music because it seems that is what “normal” people do. Now that I have survived the pandemic, overcome a wicked case of depression, and am closing in on the half century mark, I don’t really care anymore about being normal. I hate Christmas music!
My first objection is strictly on an artistic basis. Christmas music has a stunning lack of originality. The birth of Jesus Christ and the resurrection are the two most significant events in all of human history for people of the Christian faith. Yet the number of Christmas songs is relatively small. Look at the country music genre. Country singers have come up with thousands of songs about drinking beer after a breakup. I could probably name 100 of them without trying very hard. I’m not sure I could name 100 Christmas songs even if I include obscure ones like “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas.” Why are there not more original Christmas songs? When I still desperately wanted to be normal, I listened to Christmas music all day on the radio. The same 20 songs played over and over again every day, every week through Christmas. By December 26, listening to Aerosmith made me feel like Steven Tyler was personally scratching an itch I hadn’t been able to reach all Christmas season. When singers do release new Christmas albums, few have original music. They just sing all the same standards. I don’t want to hear anyone else sing Jingle Bells. Not Adele. Not Beyoncé. Not even George Straight, and I would normally be willing to listen to George Straight sing anything including terms and conditions of my cell phone agreement.
The other reason I don’t like Christmas music is that it only allows for one human emotion, happiness. The problem is that humans have a full spectrum of emotions, and most of them get magnified during the holiday season. Happiness is one emotion you may have at Christmas, but what if you are struggling with health issues, grief, job loss, or divorce? How do you cope with all of those feelings while you are listening to someone croon that it is the most wonderful time of the year? In the last two years, I have had over a dozen friends who have lost a parent. Christmas is not the happiest time of year for them as they try to create new holiday traditions. What song do you sing for that? Several years ago my uncle died just a few weeks before Christmas. We were very close. I vividly recall sitting in church listening to Christmas music. I felt like I was made of glass and about to shatter into a million pieces, but you can’t cry in the middle of a Christmas program because you are supposed to be happy at Christmas.
I don’t hate all Christmas music. There are two Christmas songs I can listen to continuously on a loop all Christmas season. The first is “Last Christmas” by Wham. If you don’t know the song, I’m leaving the link for the video here. Why do I love this song so much? First, the song is original. Wham didn’t just decide to sing Jingle Bells. Second, the song embodies eighties pop music. If I close my eyes and listen to this song, I feel 16 again. I can smell the Aqua Net and Polo cologne that permeated that air of the eighties. Say what you want about George Michaels, but he had the voice of an angel, God rest his soul. The second Christmas song I love is not even a Christmas song. It is one of those misunderstood songs where everybody thinks they know what the song is about but they really don’t. I’m talking about “Hard Candy Christmas” sung by Dolly Parton. This song came from the soundtrack of the musical “The Best Little Whorehouse” in Texas. The song was originally meant to be an ensemble song, but the best version is the Dolly Parton solo. If you don’t know the song, I’ll leave the link here. Why do I love this song? This is the Christmas song for everyone having a difficult time. The lyrics acknowledge that everything will eventually be fine, but right now things are very hard. The song is about a group of out of work prostitutes whose brothel has been closed. Dolly Parton is a musical genius and can even make a song about sex work sound magical.
What should you do this Christmas season if you like Christmas music? Listen to it! Crank it up. Play it as early and often as you like. You don’t need to change anything. However, if you are struggling this Christmas season, you aren’t alone and you don’t have to be alone. Come sit by me. We’ll listen to Dolly together, or we can listen to Wham. I’ll let you choose.