The Surgeon General has advised those indulging in the Christmas spirit to do so in moderation. If you are attending a Christmas party, be sure to appoint a Designated Scrooge — someone to remain less merry than everyone else, stay away from mistletoe, and at all costs avoid trolling the ancient yuletide carol.
The Surgeon General’s point is that it is possible to have too much of a good thing, like the time I drank a half-gallon of egg nog in one sitting and subsequently was able to hear colors. I learned my lesson, and now I limit myself to one cup of nog per week, and no nog at all outside the month of December, and no nog-drinking when I’m alone or to escape my problems. I don’t know what nog is made of, but the way it oozes down your throat, I suspect there’s flannel in it.
The Surgeon General has also issued this advisory for those listening to Christmas music: Take it easy, Bobtail. For example, let us discuss KOSY 106.5. This radio station normally plays “easy listening favorites” — i.e., songs you don’t like but lack the energy to hate — but since Thanksgiving, KOSY has been playing nothing but Christmas music, 24 hours a day, at least seven days a week.
At first it filled me with so much Christmas cheer that it would have made Charles Dickens himself vomit in his hat. Then it dawned on me that, just like every other station, KOSY was playing the same songs over and over again. You’d think that with 50 years’ worth of Christmas recordings available, with no restrictions on genre, they’d be able to avoid playing Barbra Streisand’s on-crack version of “Jingle Bells” thrice daily, much less that nightmarish “Little St. Nick” by the Beach Boys.
Besides, playing contemporary Christmas music is really just an experiment to see who can screw up a Christmas carol the most. Maybe a pop diva like Mariah Carey or Vanessa Williams will take a simple melody like “Silent Night” and turn it into one of those awful things where each note is replaced with seven different notes, so we can be impressed with how “well” they sing. Or maybe someone will convert “The First Noel” from 3/4 to 4/4 time and make it more of a march. Why? Because they can!
I can say I have stood at the precipice of hell because I have heard Rosie O’Donnell and “Sesame Street’s” Elmo sing “Do You Hear What I Hear?” (If what you hear is a brass-voiced Gorgon dueting with a shrill sock puppet, then yes, we are hearing the same thing.)
And so I began to hate Christmas music. It began to make my stomach hurt, like the time I drank a half-gallon of egg nog in one sitting and subsequently … did I already tell you that story? Fine. Then it made my stomach hurt like the time I got punched in the stomach.
Eventually, I realized KOSY probably didn’t expect me to listen to KOSY every single time I got in the car. Normal people, enjoying the Christmas spirit in moderation, would not hear the same songs multiple times, so they wouldn’t be bothered by Karen Carpenter singing “Merry Christmas, Darling” with that voice of hers that always sounded like it had syrup all over it (which, if it had been true, might have saved her).
No, most of us have the sense to take Christmas in doses no larger than we can handle. ‘Tis the season, sure, but remember what the song says: “We need a little Christmas.” A LITTLE Christmas. Not a shload of it.
So be careful this holiday season. Deck the halls, sure, but don’t deck the crap out of them. Watch out, don’t cry, don’t pout, but don’t get obsessive about it. And if you’re going to dash through the snow, for heaven’s sake, don’t don you now your gay apparel. People will make fun of you.
I don't know why I dragged the Surgeon General into this, except that I get tired of beginning each column with "I."
The fact that we can make a joking reference to Karen Carpenter dying of anorexia is what makes this country great. (Of course, Mama Cass choked to death on a sandwich. As my mom is fond of saying, if she had shared that sandwich with Karen Carpenter, they'd both be alive today.)
The word "shload" (it's actually a contraction, I guess) is one of my favorite new words. Someone said it, and we all decided we should officially introduce it into our own lexicons. Some say you can't force the language, but we sure try.
Almost three years later, I got this e-mail from a lady named Wendy:
I read your Grinchy article about KOSY's Christmas carols, and my only response is to recommend that you simply turn the dial. [If you read the column, you would know that's actually what I recommended to myself.] If you hate classic rock, I would not recommend tuning in to 103.5, or if you are not into country music, don't listen to the Eagle. [I didn't say I hated Christmas music, only that I overdosed on it -- and it was my own fault, as I explained.] On the same "note", [har!]if you aren't into Christmas carols before Thanksgiving, don't listen to KOSY. [Wait, I didn't say anything about that, did I? As it happens, I'm NOT in favor of Christmas carols before Thanksgiving, but let's stick to the facts in evidence, shall we?] Apparently there is a decent following for carols, or KOSY would be playing Barry Manilow's "Mandy" today instead of Nat King Cole's "The Christmas Song". [Man, THERE'S a choice I'd never want to have to make.] We'll let you be a Grinch if you will allow us to be festive and fun.
I will let her be festive and fun, if she insists. But I think she asks too much of me.