I don't like Christmas.
It's not that I hate it, as such -- though I occasionally I am driven to that -- I just don't care for it. And this pisses people off. More often that not, it's like an affront to their very existence. Every year, I have to listen to someone go on and on about how special and wonderful it is for them. And this is fine. I just wish they'd go be special on their own and leave me the fuck alone.
It was best when I lived in Durham. I somehow got in the tradition of driving my friend IGP to the airport to catch a red-eye flight on Christmas Eve. We'd spend the night before drinking and watching bad movies, often in the company of another friend I'll call Roweena (spot the Romantic-era joke there, folks!). That would descend into inebriated debates over local scenesters' sexual proclivites over The Sound of Music.
I still don't know about Neil and that was always a hot topic. As it were.
The next day I'd head over to the radio station with Roweena and refuse to play Christmas music for a huge shift. It was prinicipal: I was atheist and R. was Jewish. And we both felt like the world needed far more girly pop played in Decemeber.
I'm not sure exactly why I dislike Christmas. (Other than, you know, the atheism...) The only really nasty Christmas run-in I've ever had was when the person I lived with felt obligated to put up a string of lights and was stupid enough to do it on the stair railing. A few mornings later, dashing to work at 5 am, my foot got caught in it and I fell down the stairs.
That was no fun.
I think it mostly comes from indentured labor in my youth. For a period of ten years or so (inclining towards 15), I was forced to be in my parents' church's Christmas play. This meant the wasting of four or five perfectly good Sunday afternoons in Advent* watching a bunch of awkward, poorly-educated children mumble the same tired sing-song Bible verses.
For years, I didn't even have to learn the words since I had the same verse**: "Unto Us a child is born, unto us a son is given. And the government shall be upon his shoulders and he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Unlimited Rice Pudding*** etc., etc.
When I finally was old enough to complain about this -- my father was the Sunday School Superintendant and I was therefore an example -- I got cast as a rock. A rock.
This is separate from the obligatory family Christmas tree decoration. The least said about that the better; suffice it say I was once beaten and told "You will come hear and you will have a good time. Or else."
So I have no love of the Yule. The only thing I /do/ like is music. But only a certain kind. My parents are old; they almost were when I was born, and their taste in music betrays that. Growing up, the Christmas music they played was from the eeaaarrllly 1960s: The Living Strings. Andy Williams. Laurence Welk. Johnny Mathis.
To this day, it ain't Christmas till somebody breaks out The Andy Williams Christmas album and plays "Kay Thompson's Jingle Bells"****. And my favourite single Christmas collection is the one album of their multi-disc Laurence Wellk Christmas Set they disliked enough to let me ruin. I still have it.
Naturally enough, when I'd been gone a few years, I got a hold of some Esquivel and it suits me perfectly.
So... after bitching about the holidays for a while, I am now going to deliver some goods. Good, free Christmas music:
The Real Deal:
The good folks over at Ultra Swank still have available their Retro Christmas album. For Free!
Over at Pyschotic Leisure Music present you with a whole album of Senor Esquivel. Also For Free!
And last but not least -- and also gatis -- our benefactors over at Romantic Air Records have their Christmas album up, and it's a modern take on the same sort of sounds. It's keen!
So take that Christmas cheer and stick it, yo.
*Yes, I know perfectly well there are only four Sundays in Advent. I just don't care.
**Lutherans love memorising things almost as much as they do not changing things.
***Obligatory Doctor Who reference. See how I sneaked that in effortlessly with Isaiah, Chapter Nine? See, I /told/ you Lutherans were into memorising.
****For years, the whole album was unavailable on iTunes. Now it is. Merry Christmas to me, iTunes.