Since it’s the season and all, here’s my gift to you, the readers of 5×500: a simple three step process for how to handle Christmas music during the holiday season. This will allow you to enjoy a festive spirit without feeling like you drank four gallons of eggnog.
(For some people, there’s no such thing as too much holiday tuneage. These are the folks who are happy when the local oldies station starts playing Grandma Got Run Over By Etc. on November 1. These people are insane. Obviously, nothing that follows will make sense to them — this is for everyone else.)
1. We can have Christmas music played in public the weekend after Thanksgiving. No one really loves the whole Black Friday phenomenon (except perhaps the idle rich or those with lives empty outside of binges of crass consumption); but I won’t begrudge the stores and malls of the nation to not get people in the holiday spirit by looping Bing Crosby. Along similar lines, some people might reasonably want to transition out of Thanksgiving and into the solstice season. In any event, you get this one weekend. Friday through Sunday.
2. After that: total moratorium on holiday music from the Monday after Thanksgiving through December 9. Exceptions can be made for early holiday parties, Xmas tree decorating, etc. But these are, in fact, exceptions — not rules. Without extenuating circumstances, keep the jolly under wraps.
(Side rule: you’re allowed to think that using “Xmas” is inherently stupid. You’re even allowed to hate it because it’s taking the Christ out of “Christmas.” But don’t get self-righteous and huffy about this; it only hurts your stance.)
((Side rule to the side rule, which is actually a really major rule: you can be upset about the secularization of Christmas, pining for the manger and Midnight Masses, grinding your teeth at trees and snowflakes instead of stars, etc. And you can be upset that people say “Season’s Greetings” or “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.” But you can’t be upset about both. Either Christmas is a concept that transcends a particular religion and therefore can/must be embraced by everyone in our society in a secular way, or it’s a religious holiday only of import to Christians. It’s 2011; you can’t seriously argue that everyone needs to follow your traditions just because you think it’s the most rightest ride out there.))
3. From December 10 onward, it’s all systems go on the holiday music. The more the Christmas-ier. Roll on through the 25th (or, if you really want to stick with the twelve days concept, until the Epiphany on January 6). That gives you fifteen days to be surrounded by it — so even if you start to fade a little after ten, you’re so close to the big day, festive spirits will sweep you onward.
With your help, we can eradicate Christmas music overdoses by 2017. Thank you for your assistance, and happy Nat King Cole-ing.