Come the holiday season, I’m all abuzz with warm, fuzzy feelings. The world is all aglitter with Christmas lights, hot cocoa and cider sit warm in my belly, dogs wear absurd sweaters, and I can’t stop smiling. I practically piss eggnog. From the day after Thanksgiving through Boxing Day, I delve into a playlist of about 120 Christmas songs—and counting. That’s roughly six and a half hours of music. I have five recordings of “Jingle Bells” alone. There’s no cure for my holiday hysteria (and if there were, I’m certain it’d be shaped like a tiny candy cane).
I realize my love of carols puts me in a cheery minority and that’s OK; I’m singing too loudly to hear the complaints. Scrooges roll their eyes at “White Christmas” and hate malls precisely because they play a constant loop of the season’s sounds. Then there are the naysaying, nitpicking sticklers. Yes, Jesus was more likely born in late September. Yes, the winter celebration of His birth has more to do with the church trying to placate pagans celebrating the winter solstice. Yes, Christmas is overly commercialized and is almost devoid of real religious meaning. But my songs go into heavy rotation as soon as Santa closes the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
In fact, if I could have one wish for Christmas, it would be that I could share this incredible music with all the people that claim to hate it. I’m not just bumping Bing Crosby, kids. No, there’s a whole world of Christmas music out there that people don’t bother to tap into. My list ranges from the irreverent—“A Lonely Jew on Christmas” from South Park—to the self-consciously ridiculous, like, “Dominick the Donkey.” I find “Santa Claus Goes to the Ghetto” no less sweet a nod to the season because Snoop Dogg raps, “On the first day of Christmas, my homeboy gave to me/a sack of that Crazy Glue and told me to smoke it up slowly.”
And as Sammy Davis, Jr. sings on Christmas with the Rat Pack, it’s Christmastime all over the world. So I’ve mixed in popular Brazilian carols and American classics performed by a Turkish ensemble. Plus, my playlist is built up by my travels. After studying abroad in the Dominican Republic, I added some bachata. Last New Year’s, I bought a compilation of Puerto Rican salsas navideñas at a fish market in Panama. I won’t be spending Christmas in Panama with my mother’s family this year, so I’m compensating with Panamanian folk music, tipico.
I love Christmas observations both Rockwellian and rock ‘n roll. Long-standing traditions like tree trimming with family still warm my heart. Motown holiday favorites remind me of decorating the tree as a little girl, waiting to hang more ornaments while my mom flipped over the record. But more and more, I’m finding new ways to celebrate with friends. Is my collection excessive? Probably. But each song reflects a different aspect of the Christmas season and my life, and I keep finding something else to love.