Every year for Christmas, I write a post in which I rant about how much I dislike Christmas. I list all the reasons why, and the biggest one is because it’s such crass consumerism on display, wrapped up in sentimental rhetoric. “If you love someone, you have to buy them something really expensive, or you’re a chump.” That’s pretty much what Christmas commercials tell you, starting with the day after Halloween (sometimes before), which is part of my issue with it as well. It used to be that the hype for Christmas had the sense to wait until after Thanksgiving to dominate society’s consciousness. Now, we’re creeping towards Christmas 24-7. There’s a local radio station that used to start playing Christmas music all day long starting on the first day of December. This year, they started the day after Halloween, which means two months of sappy, poorly-written Christmas music. Which is another problem I have with Christmas. All of the music sucks. It’s overwrought, treacly, and steeped in false nostalgia. There is only one Christmas carol that I like, but I’ll get to that in a second.
This year, I didn’t have the heart to write my usual post because my Raven had died three weeks earlier. I distinctly remember I had changed my Twitter and Facebook avatars earlier that evening to my usual Grumpy Cat hating on Christmas avis. After Raven died, I changed them back to just being black, and I’ve left them that way ever since. With my heart broken, I didn’t even care that Christmas was approaching at all. It meant nothing to me, and I pretty much just ignored its existence. I was just trying to cope with my sudden and shocking loss, and I couldn’t summon up enough energy to even acknowledge that it was happening. My Raven was gone, and that’s all that mattered to me. I was struggling to make it through each interminable day while making sure Shadow was OK as well.
Now, however, I regret not writing the post. Or rather, I feel empty for not having written it. As much as I don’t like Christmas, I did like my tradition of writing about how much I dislike it. I would post about it on Facebook and tweet about it, and I’d get several people who would commiserate with me. It became known that the only Christmas carol I like was O Holy Night, and I’d have people sending me their favorite versions of the song. I’d compile them and post them every year, and it was something I looked forward to, but, again, I didn’t have the heart to do it this year. After a few years, I started adding Christmas-related songs I liked to the list, and if I was feeling extra-grumpy, I would include the worst version of O Holy Night I could find.*
First off, I’ll post one of my favorite versions of the song. It’s done by New Orleans jazz musicians, and it was after Katerina ripped through their city and destroyed so many lives. It was featured on the show, Studio 60, which I never watched, but this version is amazing. It’s soulful, wistful, heartbreaking, and, yet, somehow, uplifting. Here’s the version with no dialogue.