Friday, November 7, 2008

Christmas Canards

It’s that time of year again. Just after Halloween, someone puts on the radio and my children discover the Christmas music station. There is great rejoicing amongst the under 12 set as they discover wonder of wonders, that this station plays only Christmas music from now through January 1st, and I know at that sinking moment, there will be a news blackout in my car for the next ten weeks.

I can’t be the only one out there who has the love of Christmas almost stamped out of her by overexposure to Johnny Matthis in November. Having yuletide music before we’ve carved Thanksgiving turkey is the emotional and sentimental equivalent of speed reading the entire collection of Chicken Soup for the Soul. None of the stuff is bad really, none of it harms the psyche, but too much of it in one sitting is well, too much of it.

To my brain, we need Scrooge to convert from something or there’s no story. We need the Grinch to experience his heart growing three sizes that day. Only when it’s cold can we appreciate the hearth/heart warming qualities of a fire. Tiny Tim by himself is pure maudlin sentimentalism. Well alright, Tiny Tim even during the Christmas season is a bit over the top, but holidays and traditions have seasons, retail management decisions not withstanding. Like fruits, these seasonal pleasures taste better in their own time.

Explaining all of this in my “Mom lecture you’re supposed to remember” tone, I talk about the virtue of waiting. “Wrapping the presents rather than just handing you a toy means more.” The kids are paying attention! I go on about wanting them to long for Christmas and getting to put up more lights than the home owners association policy allows rather than just leaving the display up all the time. There are giggles from the older ones and I point out, the pleasure is coming from thinking about what they will do, not from having it already done.

One of my many parenting flaws is not knowing how to turn off the Mom spigot once it gets flowing. “I want them to anticipate getting new warm pajamas for the Christmas card picture and be delighted when Mom finally gets her act together and lets everyone make Christmas cookies.” I’m getting into a poetic revelry about the season when one of my darlings raises her hand.

“Mom?”
“Yes.”

“If you want to listen to the news instead, just say so.”
“Oh.”

My older daughter speaks up, “Yeah, we get it. Only in the night can we view the Christmas star.”

“Where’d you learn that?”
“I don’t know, it’s in one of the Christmas songs I think.”

In an act of magnanimous parenting, I deliberately turn on the radio to that station. They are playing a sentimental selection that sets my teeth on edge, followed by Santa Baby by Madonna, followed by one of those commercials for a clinic that specializes in things I don’t want to have to explain to my children…ever.

And I realize my own lecture is wrong. In these songs and the advertisements are pockets of worldly thoughts that I find far less appealing than I thought. So I ferret through the CD’s and find the Johnny Mathias Greatest Christmas hits. Placing a stack of Christmas music next to the stereo, I ignore the calendar date. It's November and I will feed their heart’s desire, as they listen happily to the strands that remind them of what is coming.

I’m just going to do it without the commercials from the radio, or me.

3 comments:

dotty said...

Maggie found that station here in PA a few days ago too and my first thought was YOU.
I'm not kidding.

MightyMom said...

oh good, you finally got there!!

as I was reading, I was NOT utilizing therapeutic listening....instead I was writing my comment as I read...I've already done enough therapeutic listening over the last 14 hours at work, sorry.

So, anyway, here I was reading about you turning off the music and then talking about anticipating the BIG DAY!!

But wait!! says I!!! For me...listening to the music IS anticipating the BIG DAY!!

See, first, you start with a carol every now and again and when you hear that CD your heart just swells and you smile and think "we're getting close!".....then comes the advent of Advent and you listen all the time...decorate the house and double check to make sure you got everyone a gift and your heart just bulges with excitement cuz "it's almost here"....then you start going to parties...

well, I'm tired and rambling, but the point is that each of these things builds the anticipation of Christmas. And I just love it to pieces.

So get out your Christmas list, crank up Grandma got run over by a Reindeer and think...."it's coming, it's really coming...and we're almost there!"

As an aside for the book I"m writing in your comment box today. I think the reason that people burn out on the carols isn't because of the carols....it's because the start of the carols and the "4532 shoppings days left till Christmas" announcements instead of filling them with joyful anticipation fills them with an overwhelming sense of rush. We put too much pressure on ourselves about Christmas...the last min trips to the store for one more doodah the need to find the "perfect gift" blah blah blah.

It's why I've made a strict rule in recent years to have all Christmas shopping/gift making DONE by Thanksgiving. I will not go to a store or work on a single item after Thanksgiving. My stress and anxiety is now....but once Thanksgiving comes and Advent starts I sit back and enjoy giving the gifts I've made. No hustle, no bustle. Just pure excitement as the anticipation of this glorious day approaches.


**sorry for the long windedness**

Chris Cavendish said...

I know the feeling. Christmas should come sooner. How 'bout a 6 month Christmas?

Children make it 100 times better!

http://drofmusic.blogspot.com/

Check out my creative Christmas music on my blog, when you get the chance.

Leaving a comment is a form of free tipping. But this lets me purchase diet coke and chocolate.

If you sneak my work, No Chocolate for You!