Of course, a mad scientist who sewed a cat’s head onto a dog might feel exactly the same way. Or someone who sews a dog with a cat head onto a Christmas sweater.
Objection to the six-week onslaught of played-to-death-yet-horrifically-undead songs prescribing eggy dollops of compulsory good cheer is a matter of taste as least as often as it’s a matter of religious preference.
“There are only so many Christmas songs,” says Rhett Miller, who’s released several solo albums in addition to being the frontman of the beloved alt-country band Old 97’s, which released an original Christmas song in 2007. “Even the ones I love, like Elvis Presley’s ‘Blue Christmas’ — how many times can you hear that?”
He’s come to prefer Presley’s religious Christmas recordings as a sober antidote to relentlessly merrymaking seasonal fare. “That’s what drives me crazy sometimes: the disingenuous cheerfulness.”
Every songwriter I’ve ever asked about Christmas music has given some variation on this answer. They bristle at it for the same reason I bristle at “I Gotta Feeling” by the Black Eyed Peas: It’s ubiquitous, and there’s something ruthless and intolerant in the way it wants you to feel one emotion.
But there is so much other Christmas music. Sad, weird Christmas music. Cash-in novelty Christmas music as calculated as anything by the Black Eyed Peas, conferred with “authenticity” by the false prism of nostalgia.
That’s the stuff Cirzan loves. Increasingly, it’s the Christmas music I prefer, too.
“I’m not trying to poke fun at the baby Jesus,” Cirzan says. “I’m trying to poke fun about how somewhere along the way [Christmas] turned into something very different from what it was originally intended to be.”
The mix I’m happiest with is the one I think expressed the contradictions of Christmas best.
It’s called “That Means Christmas to Some People.”
Klimek is a freelance writer.