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Screw You, Commerce-mas!

I haven't ventured out much this "holiday season". Not because I'm a curmudgeon, a misanthrope, or a humbug. Mostly because it's been work or school and not much else (except of course for all of that procrastinatin').

In the last week or so, I went to Stopn'Shop (out of necessity) and to Borders (to get a birthday present for my opo). These were not altogether unpleasant experiences, but they planted the seed for some seasonal unrest that I would very much like to expunge.

First it was Borders (where you are legally obligated to go on the weekends if you live in CT) and the oh-so-familiar strains of "Little Saint Nick". Hey, better Brian, Dennis and Carl (don't forget Mike Love and Al Jardine) than Manheim Steamroller, right? LSN is the Beach Boys' Christmas-flavored ode to Santa's woodie, best I can tell (get your minds out of the gutter! this is a Christmas story!), and as far as Christmas songs go... Hell, it's in a whole other category, like the Flaming Lips' "Christmas at the Zoo" or "Snowstorm" by Galaxie 500 (which I guess is not really a Christmas song per se, but...).

But then a few days later it was StopnShop (all the ingredientsTM!? for disaster!?) and "Merry Christmas Baby". Or maybe it was "The Man With All the Toys". I'm not sure, but it was definitely a choice cut from the Beach Boys' Christmas Album. My Beach Boys Christmas Album. That's right Commerce-mas, get your filthy blood-stained mits off of my Christmas memories!

I know, I know, Christmas With the Beach Boys (or the new expanded Beach Boys Ultimate Christmas, fer sure) does not spring from the pure fount of liturgical Christmas sentiment. You don't have to listen to the "very special Christmas message" from Dennis and the boys at the end of "Auld Lang Syne" to realize that there are one or two materialistic motives at play.
But up until recently, the Beach Boys Christmas Album was my Beach Boys Christmas Album. Every one else can have their faintly morbid "Carol of the Bells", and "Winter Wonderland" and the Barbara Streisand Christmas Album (for chrissakes), and whatever the hell else you're supposed to hear piped through the sound-system of establishments like StopnShop between Thanksgiving and New Years, but let's all just pretend that the Beach Boys Christmas Album is mine and mine alone. Ok?

Christmas With The Beach Boys has long been a part of the Bernasek family holiday festivities. At some point during the trimming of the tree Brian, Dennis, Carl, Mike and Al do their annual command performance. And somewhere around this time the noble patriarch makes his annual proclomation: Wow, we sure do have an eclectic collection of Christmas ornaments! And it is good. And it will be good, as long as you keep your sleazy paws off my Christmas you capitalist offender!

Oh, and by the way... when I say "album" I mean album, damn it! A vinyl rekkid' with snaps and pops and the hum of my dad's poorly grounded record player almost too loud to make it worth it. And two friggin' sides kiddies!

One of the only saving graces of this theft-of-Christmas has been that commercial enterprises haven't yet raped any of the selections from side-B. Side-A is all Christmas fare done up in sunny surf-tinged Beach Boys regalia - nothing to shake a long board at - but side-B? Oh, side-B! Here's the Christmas standards with schmaltzy studio orchestra arrangements ala Lawrence Welk, like the soundtrack to a Hallmark Holiday Special circa 1964 (however anachronistic that might be). Back when even you, Commerce-mas, had a twinkle in your eye.

That cloying, treacly sound is just what Christmas is all about, isn't it?

And here I admit to a fondness for a certain sacred/secular hybrid that will always be Cristmas in America. My Christmas is advent calendars and the smells-and-bells of Catholic High Holy Days, but it's also the unmistakable smell of an uprooted tree in the living room and claymation epics on the tube. It's all celuloid angels getting their wings and Dickensian skinflints getting their empathetic groove(s) on. It's quite possibly one of the only times of the year that emotionally guarded Northeasterners like myself can feel at one with the sentimental schlubs that they really are.

Sigh...

The other day my boss was eager to foist some folksy Christmas album on me, and though I relented - she is my boss, after all - I didn't try to hide my distaste. I'm sure she felt compelled by the something-or-other-of-the-holidays when she said "come on Eric, get in the Christmas Spirit!" To which I offhandedly replied "I don't want to be in the Christmas spirit... [and boil him in his own pudding and bury him with a stake of holly through his heart," said the grumble under my breath]. As the horrified gasps around me subsided, I realized I wasn't being entirely honest. I do want to be in the Christmas spirit. Just not yours, Commerce-mas.

"Nephew, keep Christmas in your own way, and let me keep it in mine."


1 Responses to “”

  1. Anonymous jenn 

    Amen brother. or should i say haribol?

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