Just a couple thoughts on Christmas and the way I was brought up to celebrate it.
Today’s episode features my cover of Invented’s “Littlething” and our response to Jimmy Eat World’s cover of Wham!’s “Last Christmas”.
This is the last podcast episode of 2022; thanks very much for listening so far and I’ll see ya back in the new year.
I have this distinct memory of myself as a really young kid one Christmas making my Christmas list for mom and dad to give to Santa. I don’t know how old I was but irregardless I find the memory embarrassing.
I was having trouble narrowing down any particular thing I wanted so I’d taken to a couple flyers for inspiration and just started writing down each thing I wanted as I came across it.
This ranged from Winnie the Pooh or Fisher Price playsets to a very real and totally useful Pokedex, Musical storybooks and Plushies.
When I was done I typed it all up so that it would be easier to read and then folded the list up and put it in an envelope.
I was horrified when my parents opened it up right then and there to see a massive two page list of what was mostly nonsensical toys that I’d grow bored of within the first week. Up until this point I’d never seen my parents read the letter that was clearly addressed to the North Pole.
So my parents said something to the tune of, “this is a lot for Santa” and “narrow it down to like 3 things”.
I don’t really remember what I got that year other than that very useful Pokedex which I stopped using after about 20 minutes. Incidentally this is also about how long I lasted when I checked out Pokemon Go during the mass hype of its release.
All of this is to say when I was younger I had no real sense of what would be useful and worthwhile and had no real concept of what anything costs or the actual point of Christmas.
It didn’t really take long for me to change my tune about all of this and largely I’d just ask for CD’s and books, knowing that some new clothes and socks were almost always on the list anyways.
Christmas got more challenging as I got a little older because it seemed that at about the same time I stopped caring entirely about what gifts I received I became all too aware of how much other people cared about theirs.
And not just about the gift itself but its retail cost.
By the time I was in my mid teens Christmas was an expensive mandatory burden that I was about to find out was wildly unsustainable on part-time minimum wage.
Birthday’s didn’t fare much better.
So before long I’d developed this awful habit of overspending in order to meet the gift quota and not feel like I was failing the tradition.
This habit would stay with me through my 20’s and even today as I write this I fear I’ve done the same thing this year after boldly abandoning the tradition entirely last year. On some level I felt I had to make up for it even though there’s not too much in my little piggy bank these days.
This type of pressure sucked all the joy and fun out of the holiday for me and most years I find myself fighting to care.
I’d work through this by adopting new traditions for myself.
Like going to a friends place for an annual friends–holiday-meetup so all of us could decompress from our families, hosting a party for the same, grabbing my skates and heading to the rink after Christmas dinner for a quiet skate, or taking a long walk in the woods to pass time through the day while everyone one else at home acts like simply being in each other’s company means spending quality time.
In all honesty I have this dream of pulling my own Christmas With the Kranks and just abandoning the entire holiday and spending it on a beach instead but, that’s even more pricey this time of year than the yearly gift-quota, so I haven’t been able to stick the landing on that one yet.
I thought a lot of this would change when I was married, like somehow having a plus 1 would make the holiday better, but in actuality it just made it more stressful with now having to fight with families about what day to spend with who and suddenly there being even more people to buy gifts for and cookies that apparently just needed to be made if you want to be considered part of the family.
What I’ve learned about Christmas is that you will never satisfy everyone and it really isn’t all that beneficial to try.
I don’t want to give you the wrong impression because there are a lot of things I still love about Christmas. I love getting a real tree and decorating it. Putting together a little Christmas village that’s all lit up at night. Listening to music that makes you want to be around people. Seeing someone’s face light up when you really nail a great gift for them regardless of its cost. Watching a kid meeting Santa for the first time at the mall and just absolutely losing it. Watching the same Christmas movies for the 100th time and enjoying it as though it was still the first.
I used to really love the magic of Christmas and that’s the part I hope one day comes back.
Today I have two covers to play for you so I’ve adjusted the format of the episode. First I’m going to play for you one of Jimmy Eat World’s. Here’s their cover of Wham!’s “Last Christmas”.
I released my first real response-cover to this one last year just ahead of the holidays. When I realized that the band chose to only sing one of the verses and otherwise repeat the songs chorus, I went ahead and thought I’d fill in those gaps.
I like to believe that they did this intentionally with hopes that someone would do just that and without ever having looked it up I’m going to go ahead and trust that I’m the first to do exactly that.
I took a completely different approach to the production, leaning into the way I was feeling last year which was, in short, pretty down and out.
There’s a music video to accompany this one on my YouTube where I happened to be walking home one day and got an early look at some Christmas parade floats that were making their way north. Another tradition I loved as a kid – watching the parade – from home. My family wasn’t the type to go downtown for the real deal so watching the broadcast a few weeks before the holiday was as good as it got, so to catch these floats in person was a bigger treat than you’d probably think, even for an old grouch like me.
And finally before I take a brief break for the next couple weeks from releasing any more podcast episodes, in with keeping with the theme of today, here’s my cover of “Littlething” off the Invented record.
I’ll leave you as always with Jimmy Eat World’s original recording and I hope you have a great holiday regardless of what you might be celebrating or not celebrating.
See you in 2023.