There are two things I will experience every Christmas season without fail: mixed nuts and mixed emotions. Come to think of it, that’s what I’m going to call my holiday music playlist. It will be a mish-mash of musical tastes that harmonize my complicated personal perception of seasonal bliss.
You know what this world needs? A punk holiday album. Seriously, I’d buy that. Anyone who has had to find the missing bulb on a string of lights should get to do so with some angry guitar riffs to thrash about.
Of course, it wouldn’t be the holidays without some gut-wrenching ballads of loneliness, heart-break and regret. Who doesn’t need a good holiday meltdown? Play that on repeat.
I’ll need some blues too, because there is nothing better for the soul than blues when you’re feeling a little blue. A little bee-bop to shake it all off. Then give me Big Band swing and turn that up. I love my horn sections. If you’ve not heard Colin James and the Little Big Band’s Boogie Woogie Santa Claus, find it. I’ll finish it off with the Pogues, Fairytale of New York, because it’s a brutal classic that offends all and thus, warms the cockles of my heart.
It’s too early to think about my Mixed Nuts, Mixed Emotions playlist though. I have a limited holiday music window. I’m a five-days-before, five-days-after Christmas music person. Come New Year’s Eve, Auld Lang Syne that noise out of here.
I can imagine the upset this is causing some of you. I know. You love your fa, la, la, la, las and jingle bell rocks. Good for you. I encourage you to sing and dance to your heart’s content. But keep the volume down, will ya?
It’s not that I don’t enjoy the holiday season. I do, in principle. Peace, love and joy. Simple messages in a not so simple world, hence the mixed emotions.
At least with mixed nuts, I can sort out the cashews from the peanuts, pecans, Brazil nuts and almonds. I will never understand people’s fascination with cashews. If socks had a flavour, they would taste like cashews. Argyle cashews. Nasty. The Carpenter loves cashews. He’s a freak, though. He also likes those Halloween molasses candies that no child ever wanted in their trick-or-treat basket. And yet, I married him.
Nuts are not in the budget this year. And I’m working on the mixed emotions. I truly am. What I struggle with is the expectations (real or imagined) to live up to some ideal of what makes the season bright. Perfect decor. Pretty wrappings. Thoughtful gifts on a deficit budget. Excess groceries. And the time it takes to make this all happen.
Maybe it’s just me. Maybe other people are more organized. Maybe they have deeper pockets. I wonder if they find candy canes from last year’s Santa Claus parade in their pockets too?
It’s a tough time for many people and that’s okay. Well, it’s not okay, but it is what it is. You and I both know friends or family who are struggling. We share in it. All I ask is that you remember that for some, this is a tough season, so be generous with your patience, empathy and kindness. But don’t chastise those for whom the season isn’t bright.
Be the light. And turn up the Big Band holiday swing.