12 Days of Seasonal Earworms Worthy of Your Love (Day 12)

Today was Christmas, and it was good. Mellow and relaxing, for the most part. Fun, at times. Most of my favorite aspects of Christmas — the Lebanese food, giving my loved ones gifts, not doing any work — were all in effect. There were video calls with my family members I couldn’t see in person. There was some socially distant and masked-up visiting from across the yard for a few minutes with others. It was, on balance, a good day.

But I cannot deny that it was weird.

The weirdness comes from not having the usual big to-do for the holiday with my enormous extended family and a generous cadre of friends dropping by throughout the afternoon or evening, all full of laughing and telling stories and eating and drinking together. Nope, that’s not really happening this year. But it’s okay. Subdued, but not bad. This way is necessary, and it’s also temporary. I think, I hope, next year will be different.

Some of my friends and cousins who work in the medical industry have already gotten their first doses of the covid vaccine, so that’s good. And while there’s nothing but absolutely bonkers nonsense bordering on mildly terroristic narcissism coming out of the upper reaches of the government, the larger horizon still provokes optimism.

Like most people, I had to put a pause on so many of my usual holiday traditions this year. But not all of them. The 12 Days of Holiday Music here, for example, is something I love doing and had no reason to halt. And just as I begin the series each year with The Waitresses’ “Christmas Wrapping” for its personal significance to me and for the comforting sense of routine (or ritual?), I think I’m going to end the series with a repeat song that I first included here in December of 2014, because it’s special to me.

“The Week Between” by John Roderick and Jonathan Coulton is one of my favorite holiday songs ever. It’s mellow and sweet and a little melancholy all at the same time.

When I was a child, Christmas was everything. Toys, delicious food, the end of my father’s unbearably long working hours until the next holiday season, and a party with my extended family, which meant cousins to play with as far as the eye could see. A very special tradition we had was that we always spent the night at each other’s houses on Christmas night, thereby extending our holiday for yet another day. We would stay up late and tiptoe into the kitchen after our parents went to bed for a “midnight snack” — usually cheddar sliced off an enormous block of cheese and Coke in six-ounce glass bottles. We played board games. We told each other scandalously funny jokes. We played with toys and watched movies and tried to see how late we could stay up. We almost never made it to actual midnight at that age. I lived for these times.

But once all of that was over, and we all went back to our own houses, to play with our own toys and siblings only, with no more excited wrapping of gifts, no more days spent cooking food in preparation for the holiday, no more anything much to look forward to until my birthday in March…

Well, I would inevitably fall into low spirits. One year my dad explained to me that I had the “Christmas blues,” the let-down once all the festivities were over. And this persisted for several years until I was old enough to start insisting my family do something, anything, to celebrate New Year’s Eve.

So. Flash forward a few decades. The time between Christmas and New Year’s is now, honestly, just about one of my very favorite weeks of the year. I have some time off before school starts up again, and the hustle and bustle of orchestrating a holiday for my family has also been accomplished. Everyone is home and just hanging out. People drop by for little visits, maybe, something low-key, or they wait until our annual New Year’s Eve bash (which also will not be happening this year).

I can devote time to creative projects and reading for fun and watching movies and sleeping in and whatever else. It’s one of the very few truly relaxed, free times I have as we put the subconscious stress of the holidays behind us and look forward to new beginnings.

The line in this song that has always resonated with me the most, that made me love this song so much, is in the chorus: “In the week between, all your drunken uncles and cousins’ cousins are on the scene…” (Not that I’m a fan of drunken people in general.) Ever since I was a child and all the way until just last year, that special time with my cousins is so much of what I love about life.

And then there’s the next line: “The week between, New Year’s resolutions in conversation with last year’s dreams.” I mean, that’s just poetry. And it’s exactly how my mind pivots from one year’s ambitions to the next, and that, too, is comforting to me, a far horizon folding itself toward me as I stand on an ever-hopeful shore.

So. Enough rambling for one night. I’m going to go fix myself a snack of very soft pita bread, hot enough to melt the butter I spread across the inside of its pocket. Maybe some sliced cheddar, maybe share a Coke with my husband. Text back and forth with my cousins, pictures of our kids. (They miss each other, too.) Then get into bed and read a new book.

I hope your winter holidays, if you celebrate any, have been just what you needed this year, or that you at least have had a moment to enjoy the calm, that you’ve had some calm to enjoy.

Now, enjoy this delightful song.

Early Earworm: John Roderick and Jonathan Coulton

It’s Winter Break and no one knows what day it is anymore.

Just kidding. I know today is Friday. I looked it up.

This is a song I would make into an earworm, but it’s really more appropriate for right now than for Monday, which will be New Year’s Eve, so I’m posting it today. It made it onto my 12 Days of Christmas Music list back in 2014, too, but it’s just such a good song, let’s have it again. Nice and mellow, for one of those days when you’re between social engagements and doing something ordinary, like cleaning your office, and it’s relaxing because it’s productive and not stressful, because it’s Winter Break.

I might be projecting.

Either way, this song is keeping me company right now, while I handle the filing and organize my journals.

12 Days of Christmas Music That Doesn’t Suck, 2014 Edition (Day 12)

Happy Boxing Day!

I know it’s not Christmas anymore, and most people could really go without hearing another Christmas song for at least eleven more months, but this song, which I wanted to hold out until today, isn’t really about Christmas so much as the chill limbo between Christmas and New Year’s. Enter “The Week Between” by Jonathan Coulton and John Roderick. (I’ve inserted the plain song below, but you can easily find live versions on YouTube with all kinds of entertaining banter, if you’re into that sort of thing.)

This song concludes this year’s broadcast of Christmas Music That Doesn’t Suck. We’ll probably do it again next year. Let me know if you have any suggestions for next year’s series.

Enjoy the rest of your holiday, whatever it might be.

 

12 Days of Christmas Music That Isn’t Awful (Day 2)

Did you enjoy The Waitresses yesterday?  A few of my friends told me, after I posted it, that they’d had that song in their head this week, too.  Good, good stuff.

Today I present a song by Jonathan Coulton and John Roderick, whom you might know for their quirky senses of humor.  (Jonathan Coulton’s “Code Monkey” comes to mind.)  They put out a Christmas album not too long ago that’s especially dear because it’s some of the only Christmas music my husband can stand to listen to on our commute after the radio onslaught has been going for a few weeks already.

And this song is on my mind today because I’m headed out this afternoon to try and finish up my Christmas shopping and cannot get some of the members of my extended family to tell me what they want.  I’ve told my dad — who has pretty much everything already — on several occasions that if he doesn’t give me some ideas, I’ll be buying him a goat through Heifer Project.  Here’s how that conversation usually goes:

“Give me some ideas, or I’m buying you a goat.”

“I don’t want a goat for Christmas!”

“The goat isn’t for you.  It’s for an impoverished family in a third-world country.  They’ll use it to make a sustainable livelihood and improve their circumstances in life.”

“Oh, what a nice program.  But how are you buying it for me?”

“I’m donating it in your name.”

“That’s sweet.  But I still want a gift.”

“Then give me some ideas, or it’s going to be a goat.”

“I don’t want a goat.”

“DAD!”

“Okay, I’ll reflect on this when I have some time and get back to you later.”

“Grrr.”

Now, my dad is a kind and generous and warm-hearted man who willingly and frequently gives to the less fortunate in many ways.  In fact, I learned many of my philanthropic proclivities from the shining beacon of his example.  But, just like anyone else, at Christmastime, he wants a little something under the tree to open that’s just for him.  And don’t we all???

I’m probably just going to get him a bottle of nice Scotch.  Don’t tell him.

In the spirit of wanting something specific for Christmas, please enjoy “2600.”  The music starts around 3:20 and goes until about 5:25; this video is from the live premiere of the song.  (Another entertaining video of a live performance of it is here, although the sound quality might not be quite as good.  The banter beforehand may contain a four-letter word, just so you know.)