(Note: We hereby abandon the Editorial We, except when issuing official pronouncements on behalf of WLHQ, or when we feel like it. It was stupid and annoying. We apologize.)
I’ve never liked Christmas music. There, I said it. There are various reasons for that, foremost the forced march Christmas caroling that I was frequently made to do as a kid. I was raised in a church where the adults loved nothing more than to herd the kids up in front of everyone, at the point of electric prods if necessary, and force them to perform music. It can leave one with an aversion. (On a quick tangent: if you’ve never been part of a troupe of four grade schoolers made to perform “Dona Nobis Pacem” in front of a church on a clarinet, a trumpet, a violin, and a drum kit, yes, a drum kit, you are luckier than I was, And if you were an adult in the congregation that day, I blame you for doing nothing to stop it.)
As to the caroling, I’ve never understood the appeal: “Hi, merry Christmas! We’re here to fill all your available space with holiday ‘cheer,’ in the form of conscripted, out-of-tune singing, and we’ve sealed the back exits.” When the standard lyrics include literal demands, accompanied by threats to continue caroling, one must wonder if the entire tradition was dreamed up by Shirley Jackson. Did you know that the following terrifying 911 call happens hundreds of times each year? (Source: The WLHQ Bureau of Made-up Statistics)
Operator: 911, what is your emergency?
Elderly caller: Help! The senior center on North Main has been taken over by a bunch of young hooligans! We’re being held hostage and tortured! Save us!
Operator: Remain calm, and tell me what’s happening. Have they issued demands?
Caller: They’re saying “Now bring us some figgy pudding.” We don’t have any figgy pudding! We don’t know what figgy pudding is! But they won’t stop demanding it! They say they won’t go until they get some! And they must want it very badly, because they’re all singing it in unison!
Operator: Singing it?
Caller: Yes! They’ve coordinated their attack so carefully, they’ve actually set it all to music!
Operator: Stay alive. A SWAT team is on its way.
So Christmas music already reeks of being forced to do things against one’s will, but so does eating vegetables, and I’ve learned to enjoy vegetables. But vegetables are good, and here’s an open secret that everybody seems to have agreed not to admit out loud: Christmas music sucks.
You know it’s true! There are a lot of good reasons we don’t listen to that crap all year long. Who hasn’t gone home with a headache after dining in a restaurant where a recording of some tedious holiday standard arranged for tinny brass is played at piercingly high volume? The halls aren’t the only thing you’ll want to deck. But everybody agrees to have this sort of torture inflicted on them nonstop for more than a month each year without complaint.
And don’t tell me you’ve never gritted your teeth while out Christmas shopping as you heard, for instance, an obnoxiously passionate R&B rendition of “The Little Drummer Boy.” (That just happened to me yesterday.) That song is awful to begin with, but really, can anybody feel that passionately about it? In an R&B kind of way? No, of course they can’t. The whole performance was a big fat lie. And I know you’ve heard the poppy, contemporized, dignity-free Christmas tunes, the ones that are guaranteed to sound dated and silly within a very short time, if not immediately. Remember “Groovy Christmas”? Here’s why you don’t: