I’m finding it difficult to get into the Christmas spirit this year. I don’t think I’m alone in that.
Music helps–but let me be clear: I’m not talking about the usual carols that are infecting every public or semi-public venue these days. Those things will, if you’re lucky, only induce ennui and low-grade tension; if you’re out of luck, expect homicidal rage shading to full-blown psychosis. We all have our triggers. For the record (sorry), mine is “The Little Drummer Boy”.
The next tier is a bit better. That’s the tracks you’ll only hear on the radio (or modern equivalents). The Brian Setzer Orchestra. Mannheim Steamroller. Trans-Siberian Orchestra. They’re not active downers, but the spiritual uplift is modest and temporary.
No, if you want to get the biggest Christmas bang for your musical dollar, you need to dig deep.
Jugology/The Christmas Jug Band or Bob and Doug.
Spike Jones (one more) or Tom Lehrer
Yogi Yorgesson (one more)–and don’t forget Stan Freberg
Don’t stop there, though. Keep digging, and you’ll find yourself in the Christmas spirit soon enough.
Uh… Now that I think about it, what is the Christmas spirit, anyway? I mean, what is it for those of us who aren’t actually, you know, Christian? Is that even a legitimate question?
I think it is. If nothing else, adopting some of that spirit makes for good camouflage. We may need as much of that as we can scrounge up in the next few years. Whoops! I think I’m slipping out of the mood again. Sorry.
Anyway, stripped of the explicitly religious trappings, the answers I’m seeing online to the question of what the Christmas spirit might be include such gems as “selfless action that brings people together,” “a generous heart and forgiveness,” and “a warm and gooey feeling.”
I can get behind some of that.
Selfless actions I can do. Maybe not enough to change the world, but that’s not really the point, now is it?
Generous heart? Within curmudgeonly limits, sure. I might not give you the shirt off my back, but I’ve got a dresser full of ’em that I’m not wearing at the moment. But I’m going to have to skip the “forgiveness” bit. There’s a general implication of universal forgiveness there–probably a relic of that religious “turn the other cheek” thing. Sorry, but I’m one of those annoying people who insists universal forgiveness is hooey. I’m going to insist on seeing a least a hint of repentance and some faint hint of an effort at recompense before I forgive an offense. I’m not going to name names, but I’m quite sure the people I’m not forgiving this year know who they are. Growl.
Ahem. Sorry. Moving on.
Warm and gooey? Got that feeling down. See, for the last couple of weeks, Rufus has been climbing into our laps and curling up to purr. It’s nice, but it could just be the weather. Overnight temperatures are getting into the thirties here. Not as cold as elsewhere, sure, but definitely cold enough to qualify as winter. So we’ve been taking Rufus’ cuddles with a grain of salt.
Until last night. He settled down, started his chirr, and then stretched out his neck and started licking my fingers. And no, he wasn’t after dinner leftovers.
Warm and gooey? Oh, yeah.
So if the music isn’t doing it for you, try a lapful of cat. Don’t have a cat and can’t afford to adopt one? Ask around: the odds are good you’ve got a friend who’ll loan you one. ‘Tis the season, after all.
Merry Christmas, y’all.
Well, to answer your rhetorical question, Casey, many of us (of all beliefs) find meaning- profound, deep meaning- in the underlying event that Christmas suggests, despite the retail madness and mind-numbing music: Winter Solstice. As you probably know, the details of Jesus’ birth and death mirror those of numerous, far older religions- the miraculous birth, the miracles, the resurrection after death- all of these are mankind’s attempts to express the annual, true miracle of the turning of the year, and the return of spring. In this, we see the hope that we too might, somehow, transcend death and be reborn. That’s really what we’re celebrating, when we put up the “evergreen” tree, and sing about the miraculous Babe in the manger (a direct lift from Zoroaster, by the way); we sing about the everlasting cycle of life, and the hope that winter will release its clutch, and we will live to see the spring, once more.
So, when I sing about the birth, death and return of the Son, I’m actually singing (as we have for thousands of years) about the death and return of the Sun, and the promise that is held within this, the darkest, longest night of the year.
The rest of it is just cultural, and I can take it or leave it alone. Most people don’t know what they are celebrating, but maybe it’s enough that they try to find meaning in Christmas; perhaps that search will lead them to the “True Meaning of Christmas”. It’s there to be found.
Not to get too cliche here, but I suspect you’re at least in the right time zone with that last paragraph. It’s the trip more than the destination.
And, to ask another rhetorical question, who wants a map that shows you every single step of the way?
Nodded and laughed my head off. YOu’re definitely related to me. Here’s my all-time favorite Christmas song version, plus cartoon. Nuthin’ sez it like the Drifters and doo wop. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ddVZOK_9UUI
The cartoon saves it from “Ack! That song *again*?!” territory. Thanks!
You are hearing from the person who screams obscenities every year right about now when the local classical station is infested with string quartet versions of “Jingle Bells.”
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There sure are a lot of us around, aren’t there?
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