I am not a fan of December.
I used to think it was because of the shorter days and lack of sunlight, but that didn't make sense when I lived in the Southern Hemisphere where the sun seemed to be always up.
No, I think it's because Christmas is so emotionally charged that a delicate fleur such as moi can't take it. Anticipatory joy and laughter and fun and love versus anticipatory sadness and tears and loneliness and disappointment (or a mix maybe) — hard on the nerves.
'Holiday' movies exploit us mercilessly.
My heartstrings do not need further pulling. At my age, they, like the rest of me, have had enough of that sort of thing. I do not want to see movies about perfect families with perfect visages, hair, teeth and dress sense having perfect Christmases, complete with perfect trees and turkeys.
I particularly don't need to see the flip side, such as a TV movie currently being advertised here, about a child of the Depression era. I think that story would just about do me in emotionally. I expect it could literally kill people of my mother's generation who don't need to re-live Christmas Days that magnified their daily state of want.
Do I need to mention the all-singing, all- dancing, all-cuteness, all-elfin? No.
I do like the music — well, most carols — and, because I shall be attending a `Carol Sing' shortly, I looked up the lyrics of the most popular. I usually only know the first verse so I try to avoid the embarrassment of launching into the schoolyard version once we get to the second verse. To my delight, as well as carols, I found Christmas songs.
What a treasure!
The songs range from the saddest slit-your- wrists such as Christmas Dinner (Paul Stookey, 1963) to one that I haven't made my mind up about yet — Christmas for Cowboys (Steve Weisberg, 1975). Western themes aren't the same since Brokeback Mountain.
Looking at the list from a historical point of view is interesting.
The Depression era gave us Winter Wonderland (Dick Smith and Felix Bernard, 1934), a song that takes us on a carefree walk with our sweetheart on a sparkling white day. Music and movies at that time were often escapist and I find this falls into the category nicely. It doesn't talk about freezing your bits off for one thing. (I live in Northern Canada)
Wartime (WWII) Christmas songs still apply. Isn't that sad? Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane, 1943), I'll Be Home for Christmas (Kim Gannon, Buck Ram and Walter Kent, 1943), and White Christmas (Irving Berlin, 1942) were written at a time when people like my father, who was in the Royal Canadian Air Force, were half a world away for years of Christmases. Now his grandchildren's generation are half a world away at Christmas for the same reason, the difference being that not everyone sees the point.
Post-war tunes brought back happier songs such as Let It Snow (Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne, 1945), Silver Bells and Sleigh Ride (Alan Jackson; Mitchell Parish).
Still, it's the Traditionals I prefer. I love O Tannenbaum and Christmas in Killarney (with all of the folks at home and tipsy), We Wish You a Merry Christmas (too bad about the threats), Good King Wenceslas (who made his page do all the work), and Jingle Bells written by James Lord Pierpont (1857).
My favourite of favourites, though, has to be The Twelve Days of Christmas.
To leave you on a happy note, here's the shopping list:
• 12 partridges in pear trees
• 22 turtle doves
• 30 French hens
• 36 calling birds
• 40 golden rings
• 42 geese a-laying (NB logistics)
• 42 swans a-swimming
• 40 maids a-milking (what - cows?)
• 36 female dancers
• 30 lords
• 22 pipers
• 12 drummers
Makes your list look doable, doesn't it?
(By the way, what's with Deck the Halls and with boughs of holly — trés painful. I don't even know anyone named Hall.)
Born and raised in a small Ontario town that became a large bedroom community post-war, Pat Beurteaux began her career as a primary school teacher, a career that permitted her to travel to Australia as a `working holidayer' in the mid-60s. At that time any British Commonwealth citizen could travel and work in any other Commonwealth country under certain conditions; a good deal of fun was had by all. You may reach Pat by emailing email@example.com