I discovered early on that what I did love about the Christmas season was its quiet, somber, almost spooky aspects. I remember a clear night in December as a teenager, walking home in the dark from choir practice, feeling terribly lonely, and yet somehow enjoying the solitude. I suppose lonely moments at least have the advantage of less pressure to be a nice guy, or at least not such an idiot. So as I write this, I'm thinking that maybe my difficulty with Christmas was having to be around other people on a social basis more often. It's not that I have anything against people. I'm the opposite of Randal in the film Clerks; I love people, but I hate gatherings. (Isn't it ironic?)
Whatever the reason, I still would rather spend quiet moments at Christmas rather than loud and merry ones, and some people think this makes me a Grinch. I prefer to think I'm more like Scrooge, who believed, pre-spirits, that everyone should honor Christmas in their own way. I think he was onto something. Which leads me to music, finally. I think my most cherished Christmas memory was an evening when I was about twelve, a few days before the holiday, when for some reason the only people in the house were me and my mother. She had lit the tree, plugged in all the fake candles in the window, turned off all the living room lights, and put on the very Firestone album you see above. I didn't and still don't care much for the collection, other than for its ability to place me immediately back in my childhood (which is a very mixed placing, believe me). But when one particular track began playing, I lay on the floor on my stomach and stared at the tree, bathed in the multi-colored lights, and felt absolutely at peace, perhaps because at that moment the only people in the world were me and my mother. I was free from having to do battle with siblings or schoolmates, or worry about what a crappy kid I was. For a short time, I had not just Mom but the whole of Christmas all to myself. The track that was playing was this exact version, for my money the definitive one, and for many reasons it fit that moment exactly perfectly.
This blog post dedicated to my mom Ann, who figured out what I was going through