Just Hear Those Sleigh Bells Jingling!

I walked into my local Target store about a week ago. This was intended to be about as uneventful a trip to Target as was possible. Printer ink and laundry detergent were the only reasons for my visit.

I do kind of enjoy Target. At worst, I find my Target visits to be mostly innocuous affairs. Visiting Wal-mart or even the local shopping mall tends to raise my anxiety levels a bit.  But Target has an almost calming effect on me. I completely get that this is weird and can offer no explanation, but it’s true. I’ve always liked the store.  I remember when Target first appeared in San Jose, my brother Jeff, when planning to visit, would casually mention that he was heading over to “O Target.” For a while I thought he was just being goofy, which is actually normal in my family. But after this happened several times, I grew suspicious of his intent. Our conversation went like this:

Jeff:  “I’m heading to O Target!”

Me:  “You mean Target?”

Jeff: “No, I mean O Target.”

Me:  “No, you mean Target.”

Jeff: “There’s a big “O” right on the sign.  O Target.”

Me: “No, that’s a Target.  Because the store is called “Target”.”

Jeff:  (pause) “Oh.  Target.”

So anyway, I enjoy my trips to Target.  And this most recent was no exception.  I entered the store thinking I was just picking up ink and detergent.  But once I entered, something magical happened – Christmas had arrived!

I love the Holidays.  I have very little cynicism around Christmas and it’s holiday season companions.  I love the magic and the good cheer and lights on houses and decorated trees and white elephant gifts and hot cider and red cups at Starbucks and ho-ho-ho and mistletoe and all that stuff.  I am deeply connected to my faith and the spiritual piece of Christmas.  I love the way my boys can’t sleep on Christmas eve, in anticipation of the magic that awaits Christmas morning.  Truthfully, I have trouble sleeping, too.

But one of the biggest things I love about the Holidays is the music.  It is the anchor that holds the season steady.  And it was the music at Target last week that awakened my sense of the coming holiday season.  Not just the music, of course.  They were assembling their holiday section as I entered the store, putting out all of the decorations and ornaments, and it made me feel excited like I was eight years old.  But quickly, I was drawn to sounds of Burl Ives, gleefully imploring me to have a holly jolly Christmas, as if this was some sort of extra-special way to enjoy Christmas, far beyond that of the simple “merry” variety.  “Yes, Burl!  I will try to have a Christmas that is both holly and jolly.  Sounds great!”

But here’s the problem – Thanksgiving was still a week away.  While I do love the holiday music, I don’t really allow myself to get absorbed in it until Thanksgiving weekend.  That usually gives me a solid four to five-week stretch to cycle through my excitement.  The cycle usually goes like this:

Thanksgiving weekend – overdose on holiday music and love every note of it (much like turkey)!  The car radio get’s locked on KBAY, the local station that plays all holiday music from Thanksgiving to Christmas.

December 1st– feeling a little stuffed, but still manage to consume large quantities of Andy Williams and Bing Crosby (still like the turkey).  Still listening to KBAY daily, but find myself occasionally checking out other stations.

December 10th– “Oh, God, please don’t let me hear freaking “Sleighride” by Johnny Mathis again!  Make it stop!!!” (again, the turkey metaphor applies).  This is also about the time I start thinking through my Best of 2012 list, just for the escape.  KBAY is deleted from my presets.

December 15th– with the excitement of Christmas being about a little over a week away, the holiday music starts to sound pretty good again (and the thought of turkey isn’t so bad either).  I tune the car radio back to KBAY, curious to hear if they’ve added any new versions of “Little Drummer Boy”.

December 20th– it’s cold, Christmas is just a few days away, and I can’t get enough holiday music.  (Maybe we should deep-fry the turkey this year!)   KBAY is preset on all 12 FM channels in the car.

December 25th – “Sleighride” sounds like the greatest song ever on Christmas morning (and the turkey tastes amazing that night!).  We listen to KBAY while driving to my brother’s house for early dinner.  We pass O Target on the way.

December 26 – Done.  Cold turkey.  Both ways.  See ya next Thanksgiving.

So it’s important not to start the cycle too early.  Especially this year, when Thanksgiving is on November 22nd, giving us the longest possible stretch between turkey day and Jesus’s birthday.  Overdoing it too early could create a holly jolly imbalance of holiday music appreciation through the season.  And it’s important to finish on a high!  But it’s been hard.  I’ve been enthusiastically whistling “Midnight Sleighride” daily as I walk into work.  I can’t help it.  Target got me all excited last week!  Oh, Target.

But I have total faith that, whether I get absorbed too early or not, the holiday season will be magical and it will be a delight to share it once again with my beautiful, brilliant, and amazing wife.  “O Holy Night” is her favorite.  I love that.

As you begin your own foray into the holiday season, I will recommend two recent holiday albums that I have enjoyed.  One just came out a few weeks ago.  It’s a various artists compilation called Holidays Rule.  Artists like Paul McCartney, The Shins, Fun., Calexico, The Civil Wars, The Head and the Heart, and many others take on classics like “The Christmas Song”, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”, “We Need a Little Christmas”, and even the aforementioned, omnipresent “Sleigh Ride”.  There is a definite indie vibe on this one, even with Sir Paul’s presence.

Next is a release from last year, She & Him’s A Very She & Him Christmas.  M. Ward and Zooey Deschanel created a beautiful, relaxed, late night Christmas vibe that is a wonderful listen.  In a genre that is more about the individual song, this is a terrific album.

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!  And Happy Holidays!  I hope your Christmas is both holly and jolly.  Maybe even merry.  And be sure to enjoy your holiday music of choice!

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~ by themattmorrisshow on November 17, 2012.

One Response to “Just Hear Those Sleigh Bells Jingling!”

  1. I like it Matt. Good post!

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