Monday, December 14, 2009

Crappy Christmas?

I have a friend on mine who's a bit of a Grinch when it comes to the world of Christmas music. He abhors the Trans-Siberian Orchestra and has lamented the need for "Feliz Navidad." And recently, he shared that he just doesn't get folks who accept what he labels "crappy music" around the holidays.

Now, I'm just the opposite. And while I do still manage to keep some sort of critical filter afloat, I tend to like a lot of Christmas music whether it be Elvis classics or something from a new artist. I just dig the tunes. But why, why do I have such a deep affection for these songs? For, to be honest, some of them are pretty cheesy. And yes, "Feliz Navidad" and "All I Want For Christmas (Is You)" tends to get on my nerves after a while too. So what is my addiction to these most saccharine of songs?

I think for me, and perhaps for many more, Christmastime itself represents a time of innocence, of childlike wonder and joy that we don't get to experience any other time. We're free, if but for a moment, from the constraints of "real life" and are open, and I daresay encouraged, to return to our childhood, to those days of carefree snow angels and catching snowflakes on outstretched tongues. (Of course, as a native Floridian I've never done either of those things but you get the picture!)

And as we give in to that inner child and it's innocence, something within us steps out too. We learn to laugh, to have fun, to frolic even. And that music, that wonderful bubblegum pop that oozes from radios and iPods and store speakers each and every year conjures up thoughts and memories and moments from days gone by. One of my earliest and fondest Christmas memories is tied to such a song.

As a young boy, I knew that Santa had arrived when a sliding wooden door was shut when I awoke. It usually took me a long time to get to sleep so God bless my parents for sticking it out as long as they did. But when I awoke, in the dark, early hours of the morning, I saw that door closed and rushed to open it. As I did, I marveled at the decorative bounty before me, shiny ribbons and bows reflecting red, green, and blue lights while colorful wrapping paper clothed what would soon be revealed as wonderful delights. After playfully shaking a few boxes and lifting others, I retrieved a blanket and pillow and lay next to the space heater nearby to await morning. Laying there, the radio played softly nearby and the gentle sounds of "Snoopy and the Red Baron" hovered over my sleepy form, indelibly printing itself into my mind and into my memories with warmth and goodness.

And the same thing can be said of so many songs. Whether it be the rapturous ecstasy of "O Holy Night" or the homespun humor of "Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer," they're simply songs that conjure up the best parts of the past, the parts that we long to return to if but for an all too short season of playfulness and innocence. At least that's what it is for me...

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