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Please Go Away, Christmas Music

Marisa Iati | Wednesday, November 20, 2013

I really don’t want to hear any Christmas music yet, but it’s not for the reasons you might think.
It’s not that I don’t love turtle doves and partridges in pear trees as much as the next person (trust me, I do).
It’s not because most of the songs these days just remind me of how commercialized the season has become (even though it has).
It’s not even because Christmas music makes me anxious about everything I need to do before the holiday (although it does).
Every other year of my life that I can remember, I’ve listened to Christmas music before Thanksgiving. Way before Thanksgiving. Sometimes even before Halloween.
I never worried much about beckoning the holiday season too soon. How could it ever be too early for Christmas? But this year, I’m more hesitant to crank up the carols. Although I’m still itching to create an iTunes playlist consisting entirely of Josh Groban, Michael Bublé and Mannheim Steamroller, I’m doing my best to hold off for another week.
It’s hard, especially when my Pandora account insists on playing holiday-themed ads and I’ve already heard Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” blasting from a North Quad residence hall on a Friday afternoon. Christmas lights hang in the window of my friend’s dorm room, and the University has been sneakily decorating trees around campus for weeks. I’m not even going to pretend I don’t feel a slight twinge of joy every time I walk into Starbucks and see vibrant red bags of coffee grounds lining the shelves.
The truth is, I’m a sucker for Christmas. I live and breathe for the holiday season. I find myself wishing in June that it were already Christmastime, and I count down the months until it arrives. My obsession with all things even marginally related to Christmas is almost embarrassing.
This year, though, I’m not going to listen to Christmas music before Thanksgiving. I just won’t. And here’s why:
I’m trying to learn to recognize what’s wonderful about the average days. You know which days I mean – the ones when its too cold and maybe raining, and the dining hall isn’t serving anything good, and you have a paper due tomorrow, and you still haven’t gathered up the courage to ask that person to the SYR and now that you think about it, nothing particularly exciting at all has happened for a while.
In other words, the days that don’t belong to Christmastime.
During Christmastime, maybe it’s too cold and it’s raining and you’re hungry and stressed and wishing there were more hours in the day – but there are twinkling white lights and nativity scenes and peppermint hot chocolates and Christmas music. And those things make everything just swell, regardless of whatever else is going on in your life.
But I think we should be able to convince ourselves that everything is just swell on any given day, not just on the ones that fall between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. There is something oddly beautiful about those standard, run-of-the-mill days that have nothing particularly special about them. They’re completely blank slates on which joys and heartbreaks write themselves in unpredictable ways.
The uncertainty of what will come from average days is humbling, and I’m attempting to appreciate them for what they are. On regular days, there is no Christmas music to automatically make the world brighter, which forces us to look a little deeper to find what makes each day meaningful.
For me, holding off on Christmas music until Thanksgiving is a reminder to find beauty in ordinariness.
I’m not going to tell you to follow my lead by stowing away your Andrea Bocelli Christmas album for the next week. I’m just suggesting we enjoy the present moment, instead of always jumping ahead to the next exciting thing.
But when that next exciting thing arrives and Santa Claus’s sleigh rolls into Herald Square at the end of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, you’d better believe I’ll be turning up the Christmas tunes.
So, to the Christmas music playlist to which I haven’t been showing any love, hang in there. I’m almost ready for you.
Contact Marisa Iati at miati@nd.edu
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.