14 November 2005

The 42 Days of Holly Jolly Christmas

This year will mark the 17th holiday season I have spent in the retail industry. 17 years of watching the frantic masses scurry about like little squirrels gathering presents, like acorns, to be placed under the Christmas tree. The stories I could tell of the hatred and avarice that rises in the hearts of men and women over the holidays would make most burn their Christmas tree in their front yard. With the exception of the recent Paris riots, atrocities during the Crusades, and Mai Lai; the demonic tendencies that overtake otherwise normal human beings during the holidays is unique. While I could present anecdotal evidence all day, I shall cut to the chase.

There is one constant I have been able to track in every instance is the presence of Christmas music. Just about every store, restaurant, and cat house in North America plays Christmas music from the first part of November on till New Years. Are there subliminal messages hidden in Barbara Mandrel’s Christmas at Our House? If you play Rocking Around the Christmas Tree backwards do you get a sinister message? Or is it simply the bombardment of Holiday music slowly driving the masses mad?

Well this article has absolutely nothing to do with any of that. Not really. Since I’m writing on this blog about my personal experiences, I could give a flip about what drives people to beat the hell out of someone for the last can of chick peas on aisle 3. I stopped trying to fix the ills of the world in 1989. Oddly enough that was the same year I discontinued my use of hair dryers.

This article is really about my own personal music Holiday quest. I can’t pin point the year I started doing this, but it was sometime in the early 90’s. There is one song I attempt to avoid having to listen to every year. I have had to listen to Christmas music day in and day out at work for these 17 years. Yes it’s true that I have reached a point in my life I could do without it. There is one particular song that kills me every time. A song dripping with so much Holiday goodness and cheer it almost gives me a physical reaction. Burl Ives Holly Jolly Christmas is the culprit.

Now I have nothing against Mr. Ives nor his political ideology. I have no idea if there are naked pictures of Burl in Jimmy Page’s photo collection, or if he was kind to stray cats. None of this makes a hoot and a holler worth of difference to me. However, I have a personal boycott against Holly Jolly Christmas. I’m not sure if the royalties are low enough on Burl’s “classic” Christmas tune that makes every piped in music service play it every hour, or some programming director thinks everyone will smile like he does when they hear it; but folks Holly Jolly Christmas is everywhere.

So years ago I took a stance. I would attempt to go through a Holiday season with out hearing it. For those of you out there that recognize the sheer magnitude of this task, I say thank you. For those of you out there that don’t, I challenge you this year. Count how many times you hear this one song from 1 Nov 05 to 31 Dec 05. You’ll see… Now, I have been able to pull this feat off once. I think it was 1997. You might ask how I can be sure I didn’t hear it? Believe me, I know.

The worst year on record was 2004. 30 minutes after Muzak opened the flood gates of Holiday tunes, I got tapped. Burl Ives and all his glory screwing me this early in the season. For the love of all that is holy, it was Veteran’s Day. The day we remember fallen brothers and those that have sacrificed so much so Burl Ives could sing about saying hello to friends you know when you’re walking down the street, I get tapped.
Then there’s the sabotage. My own mother attempted to bait me into hearing it one year. Oh the woman that bore me for low those many months in her womb and swaddled me as a babe, turn coated on me. In 2003, she advancing a CD to my Holiday nemesis and put the player on pause. Then asking me so nicely and sweetly to go over to and hit play. I think she even baited me telling me it was the latest Elvis Costello album she had been listening to. Trusting my own mother, I pressed play. The mental assault was brutal. The song playing, I saw my own mother as Benedict Arnold before me. Low, the fates had been kind to her that year. I had already heard it. No court in America would have convicted me for what I would have done should my own mother have trapped me into hearing that lothful thing.

It’s 14 Nov 05 and Christmas music has been playing at the store since Saturday. I’ve made it this far. I have 42 days left. Every nerve and fiber of my being is wrapped up in avoiding this tune. I have taken precautions with family and friends to stop any sabotage this year. Secret Holly Jolly Christmas countermeasures that will make it difficult at best for friends and family to shoot me down this year have been put into motion. So don’t try it….

As for the rest of the world, the game is afoot. It’s you and me Burl. It’s just you and me now sport.

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