When it comes to picking favourites, I am pretty easy going. It doesn’t really matter whether I listen to the classics by Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald or Burl Ives, or modern ones like Wham’s “Last Christmas” or Linda Eder’s “The Bells of St Paul”, I am a fan.
In my own traditions, “Do They Know It’s Christmas” by Band-Aid is usually the first one I play to kick off my holiday preparations, much like it did when it first hit the airwaves in 1984.
I can’t think of a better time to have the holiday tunes playing than when I am decking the halls, trimming the tree, wrapping gifts or enjoying some holiday baking. To me, the music can be the icing on the cake, turning my holiday activities into more idyllic Norman Rockwell-Hallmark movie moments.
Over the years, I have collected a couple of new CDs each year just to hear different jazz or pop interpretations, to switch things up and to keep the holiday tunes fresh.
Ten years ago, when I was learning Swedish, I accumulated some CDs from Sweden’s top pop singers that not only added fresh new voices to the mix, but also introduced me to traditional Swedish songs. Today, I couldn’t imagine my holidays without them.
Overall, I will admit to having a pretty big appetite for holiday tunes… but not all the time.
From time to time, my car’s Bluetooth doesn’t seem to be on speaking terms with my iPhone (I wish I knew what the fight was about) which means that instead of listening to my own playlists, I listen to regular radio. That is when I sometimes find myself (surprisingly) on holiday tune overload.
I respect certain stations’ decision to play only holiday tunes as of December 1st, but I can’t say that even a fan like me would be listening to holiday tunes 100 per cent of the time that early in the month.
The reason: the irony of holiday tunes against the backdrop of life.
It’s hard to get gushy to songs about beautiful snowfalls, when you are following an SUV whose lazy driver didn’t brush off last night’s snowfall, and you are caught behind them on the highway in a resulting blizzard as they pick up speed.
Tunes that expand upon the themes of goodwill don’t play well while someone cuts you off with no advance notice, no turn signal and no time to prepare for their self-entitled barging in.
Returning to the car and turning on the ignition to “All is calm, all is bright” after witnessing an adult pulling a tantrum in a store and berating a sales clerk, is too stark of a contrast on too many levels.
And then when I try changing channels, it seems like most of my favourite stations are playing holiday tunes at the same time. There is no escape!
That is when I have been known to safely pull into a parking lot, put the car in park, and then try to play referee between my Bluetooth and my iPhone in an attempt to get them talking again, and restore my connection to the non-holiday playlists on my phone.
Maybe it’s just me, but the December 1st all-holiday music extravaganza can get a little jarring. When compounded by the blaring music in malls and stores screaming “holiday shopping”, even fans like me can feel pushed down the crowded escalator of the holiday season and get a little overwhelmed.
And believe it or not, dear readers, there are a few people for whom holiday tunes are not their cup of hot cocoa at all. So how do you please everyone?
I don’t want to get all Sheldon Cooper about it, and some may disagree with this (and that’s OK), but I think there is a pretty simple formula to gradually integrate seasonal music into the overall flow.
I would propose that the first week of December, the station’s playlist could include 25 per cent holiday tunes. In the second week, the holiday component can approach 50 per cent. In week three, 75 per cent of air time could be devoted to holiday tunes. And from December 22 through to December 25, stations can go nuts with all-holiday tunes.
I am not trying to play the Grinch and take away anyone’s holiday tunes, but it is a little jostling to go from 0 to 60, overnight, from November 30th to December 1st? In many respects, I think I come from the school of “less is more”, and frankly, if a Christmas tune snuck up on me, unannounced, in the early days of December, I think I would appreciate and enjoy the tune, more than if I had heard it multiple times over consecutive days.
Maybe it’s just me who thinks the balance may have tipped too far, but if December 1st is good for most people for all-holiday music, then I will happily tune in, specifically when I am decking the halls, trimming the tree, wrapping gifts and enjoying some holiday baking.
It all sounds good to me!
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