…to those of my readers who celebrate, and to those who don’t, I’m sorry that it is impossible to get anything done today because everything is closed, and that your holidays (or lack thereof) get totally short shrifted* and eclipsed by the insanity that is Christmas.
Now, normally I weenie out on Christmas Day and post a few lines and a picture, because everyone needs to be lazy now and then, but then I thought about how annoying it is when I am trolling the Internet to look for things to read on Christmas Day, because we don’t really celebrate Christmas, so I decided that I should actually write something today, just for you. Those of you who are celebrating Christmas can go look at your new toys and watch the family fight.
The thing is, as I mentioned yesterday, that there are some things I like about Christmas. But, for the most part, it’s not a holiday that I am that into, especially since I am now a Grown Up, and therefore do not get presents. (Which is ok, I am actually all about the non-giving/receiving of presents, because I think it’s much better to gift people year round, whenever you feel like it, just for the heck of it, rather than feeling forced to buy something for someone just because it’s 25 December.) Christmas Eve is kind of the big blow-out for me, in which I eat an obscene amount of Christmas cookies and play board games with old friends, and it is good.
But, for the most part, I can take or leave Christmas. It does its thing, and I do mine, and everybody is happy.
With the notable exception of Christmas music. I don’t mind the deluge of Christmas advertising, the stupid decorations, people saying “merry Christmas” at the store (someone actually got quite enraged at me for wishing her a “merry Christmas the other day, much to my bemusement). But I do mind the Christmas music. Because I loathe Christmas music. Or, rather, I loathe the insipid, watered down, poppy version of Christmas music which seems to play nonstop from 1 December to 26 December everywhere I go.
I love really good carols, excellent vocal performances, cool uses of instruments. But the Christmas music blaring overhead at Harvest when I was scurrying around, fighting old ladies for vanilla? That’s not music. That’s pollution. It should be taken out back and shot, just like cool jazz, elevator music, and hold music on automated phone systems.
My relationship with music is a bit odd. I like music, and I have pretty varied tastes, but I can go days without listening to it, and be just fine. I am also very out of touch with most modern music: I grew up listening to opera and classical music, and was kind of astounded when I got into high school and learned about rock, electronica, hip hop, and all of the other musical genres available for my listening pleasure. (And displeasure, in some cases.) Given that my Christmas Eve pals are all music nerds and musicians, I was thinking a lot about music last night, and the strange ability that I have to totally tune out music that I don’t like.
The thing is, if I’m not into whatever is being played, I just sort of turn my ears off. I understand on some level that there is background noise of some sort, but I just don’t listen to it. And when people try to drag me into arguments about how awful or great the music is, I say “oh, I don’t know, I wasn’t really listening to it,” and they never seem to believe me.
It’s weird, because I can’t turn off my ears for any other sounds that annoy me. I hear my neighbors blathering in their backyards, and their barking dogs, and the asshole who idles his car three feet away from my bed all the time. I hear screaming children and brakes on the highway and obnoxious cellphone ring tones. The thunderous chomping of someone eating? It infuriates me. Fingers scratching on paper? Gah. It makes my skin crawl. It’s as though my magical ability to just not listen to music was traded for an extreme sensitivity to all other sound.
The question is: would I trade my sound sensitivity for being forced to actually listen to music I don’t like? I’m not sure. The thing is, I have no beat, no ear, and no taste, so it takes a lot to get me to actively dislike a piece of music and decide to turn my ears off. But, PA system Christmas carols are pretty damn awful. Definitely nails on a chalkboard, shrill laughter, shifting gears without a fully engaged clutch awful. Maybe if I could have a trial run to see what it’s like to listen, really listen, to the music around me before I make a decision?
*Incidentally, because I was curious, I looked up the etymology of this phrase. It refers to a penance which is undertaken for absolution. Historically, murderers were often short shrifted after confession; in other words, executed before they got a chance to do their penance, thereby ending up wherever it is that people go when they haven’t done their penance. The term appears to have been invented by that profligate reworker of the English language, William Shakespeare.