sick of christmas…or sick FOR christmas?



now playing: jim photoglo, “will of the wind”


…or, both perhaps.

i took a last minute gig with lil’ ragu on the afternoon of christmas eve, and it really became apparent then…my throat wasn’t what it was supposed to be, to the extent that i could only sing three or four songs. i felt ok for the most part, but my chest hurt and my throat was in a sorry state. otherwise, i was fine. but by sunday night, i was hurtin’ all over. yesterday, i slept most of the day – all but about six to seven hours. didn’t shower until about 10:30 last night. when i finally went up to bed, i coughed and stared at the clock for a while, and listened to the whistling sound coming from my chest every time i exhaled until i finally decided to go downstairs and return to the sofa, lest wendy wake up and not be able to go back to sleep due to the noises coming from the other side of the bed.

the few minutes before i dozed off on the sofa were consumed with thoughts of taking today off as well…but i knew that to be a non-option, even as i was entertaining the thought – i’m out of vacation time as of yesterday, and i simply can’t afford not to work at the moment. my guardian angel sent some computer work in my direction to get me through, but there’s something screwy with my bank account at the moment – a deposit i made last week doesn’t appear to have gone through, and i need to find out why, because some transactions that depended on that deposit have hit the account and it’s glowing bright red right now. it’s only temporary, but i hate when that happens.

other than that, christmas was – well, christmas.

the concept seemed rather foreign and surreal until i got up on christmas eve and made my way to the mall to do my remaining christmas shopping…that day, it started to feel like christmas for the first time to me. i grabbed a couple of auntie anne’s pretzels and a soda and sat down close to center court and watched the kids line up to get in their last minute face time with santa claus – one little girl was particularly precious..she had brought her favorite doll to visit santa, too. (i tried to get a picture of her, but it was a little too thick in the space between she and i for me to get a good one).

the one thing i was able to do on christmas eve was to actually buy my daughter a present, as opposed to just giving her money – and i have to give props to her mom for her help on that front. i mentioned to her that i had no idea what to buy her, and i didn’t – i hate it….no, hate it – when people buy me clothes. no one has ever managed to come out of that particular task without a scratch. you’d think that someone who puts as little emphasis as i do on what they wear wouldn’t be so particular, but the truth is, i have a very narrow window with regard to what i deem “acceptable”. there are certain colors that i’ll wear, and there are a lot more colors that i won’t. certain fabrics i’m ok with, others i refuse to deal with. and, time has taught me, no matter what the tag says, i really kinda need to try it on before it leaves the store with me.

so, over time, most folks associated with me have learned not to buy me clothes.

and that makes me happy.

however, this was pretty much all my daughter wanted for christmas….and heaven knows i’m the last person she wants buying her clothes – because that’s just asking for trouble. so i don’t – i give her money and take her shopping and we buy her clothes together. or, as it’ll probably be this year, i’ll just give her money and she’ll go with whomever she decides to go with, and that’ll be that.

but her mom gave me an anonymous tip regarding a gold necklace that she really wanted, and i bought that for her – and that got the all-so-important “whooooaaa” look from her when she opened it.

“i was gonna buy this!”

that’s what i was going for.

so thanks, jill. i owe you one.

i probably would’ve stayed at the mall a lot longer than i did, were it not for the aforementioned gig with ragu – that went well enough, thanks to the fact that ragu was content to carry the material for the show…since i was largely unable to sing. a couple of fellows showed up to jam, one with a trumpet and one with a very small set of bongos….older fellows, both capable players certainly…but it did make for a pretty surreal little band – acoustic guitar, stratocaster, bongos, and trumpet…not your everyday outfit, to be certain.

but when i got home, i got out the traditional bottle of champagne and sat down in front of the tv to wrap presents…only i didn’t wrap a single one. i ended up watching “a christmas carol” without getting out a single present, and then fell asleep on the sofa afterward with the “christmas story” marathon on and didn’t wrap anything until the next day.

i think that might’ve been my first hint that i wasn’t feeling my best…that’s not like me at all.

so the kids came by at around 4pm on christmas day and opened their presents…and dylan made his customary run to the basement. he’d gotten two new video games that he’d been jonesing for, and he couldn’t wait to try them out. so much so, in fact, that he stayed home to play while wendy, jayda and i took advantage of an invite to ragu’s house for christmas. i was a little apprehensive about going because i knew there’d be a lot of people there that i didn’t know…but in the spirit of the day, it didn’t really matter. it felt like family. i managed to get a toddler on my lap within half an hour of getting there, so i was in my element. ashton, his name was. this kid could eat. i mean, seriously eat. he must’ve put down over half a dozen slices of ring bologna, a couple of pickles, and a handful of triscuits just while i was holding him…and he was still reaching for stuff on the table when i gave him back to mom and dad as they were getting ready to leave. jayda actually sat on my lap on the sofa while we were talking to mrs. ragu in the living room – i don’t know where that came from, but it doesn’t happen often, and i loved that she was so willing to be affectionate that way.

i’ll take it when and where i can get it. the older our children get, the more infrequent that becomes.

we had to leave just as keith and his wife were getting there, because i was starting to feel guilty about having left dylan at home for so long by himself, but as it turned out my worry was unfounded – he hadn’t moved from the spot where i left him some three hours before when we came home.

jayda dashed upstairs to catch up on her phone calls, dylan sequestered himself in the studio with his playstation, and i opened another bottle of champagne and settled in to watch “it’s a wonderful life”…followed by the tail end of the Titans game, followed by ajames taylor concert on public television….followed by falling asleep on the sofa, yet again.

oddly, the only sense i really got of the season was a few hours at the mall the morning of christmas eve. the whole weekend, it felt essentially as though i was going through the motions. christmas takes on such a different complexion when your children surpass a certain age. once, it was all about christmas morning – about having them come running in to wake you up to let you know that santa had been there, and watching with a sense of fulfillment as they rip into their christmas presents with smiles on their faces…that’s really when christmas is in its element – those fleeting moments at the beginning of the day when you have a few instances of sheer, unbridled delight that you can share in with your children. the rest of it pales in weak comparison to that…the whole frustration-wracked process of deciding upon and then buying gifts, the god-forsaken promenades of dysfunction that are “the family dinner”….and the worst part of it?

i decided, late on christmas eve, while wendy and i were at queen city diner, that i think i understand why so many people decide upon suicide during the holidays.

it doesn’t have anything to do with despair as a result of loneliness, or depression…

it’s the fucking music.


let’s take but a single example…not to disappoint those of you who hate “rockin’ around the christmas tree” or “grandma got run over by a reindeer” as much as i do, but i want to use a more traditional example.

how many of you are searching the medicine cabinet for razor blades by the last verse of “twelve days of christmas”?

what a repetitive, vomit-inducing piece of garbage.

it has all the musical appeal of “ninety-nine bottles of beer on the wall”…and by the time day twelve rolls around, you’re ready to strangle someone…and, dare i say, rightfully so.

and, obviously, we’re just discussing the staples here…the traditional tunes. heaven help me if i’m ever actually exposed to anything so obviously ill-conceived as the lynyrd skynyrd christmas album. now, c’mon – what useful function could that possibly have? why? WHY?

same to you, dan fogelberg…hasn’t your reputation suffered enough these past few years? and, along the same what the fuck lines…as i was checking out at borders on friday, i heard none other than the King of the pretentious middle aged white guys in hawaiian shirts and sandals, Jimmy Fucking Buffett, doing jingle bells over the store speakers.

the one thing i’m proud of, with regard to my short stint as a songwriter, is that i never succumbed to the pull of the twisted urge to record one of these rotten-assed christmas chestnuts. because, frankly…i never had said twisted urge. in all honesty, i think i’d look forward to committing my own version of “santa claus is coming to town” to tape almost as much as i’d cringe with anticipation at the prospect of recording have neguila or ave maria or copacabana

the lone solace in the bittersweet moment at which christmas passes over into history is knowing that i won’t have to hear any more of that bullshit for at least, oh, nine months or so. that estimate seems to grow shorter with every passing year, though. soon, you’ll be able to hear little brenda lee crooning about having seen mommy kissing santa claus on your way home from the shore on labor day weekend.

and, of course, if the weather patterns continue to move in the direction they have been, you won’t be able to tell the difference between christmas and labor day weekend…we had a brief cold snap early last week here, but by the time christmas rolled around we were back up in the high forties. when i left for lunch earlier today, i did so with nothing on but a long sleeved shirt, and suffered not at all for it. i’m told that it’ll be in the sixties this coming weekend, although it might rain.

were ol’ bing around today, he’d be dreaming of a partly cloudy christmas….at best.

anyway, one last thing i have to make a note of before i call it a day…

when i woke up this morning there on my trusty sofa, i was in the middle of the strangest dream…i dreamt that a country act that i’d arranged an audition for earlier this year was the subject of a reality TV show…i think it was called “chasing the nashville dream” or something similarly absurd. i don’t remember if i was in the band or not, but in the dream, i wasn’t seeing all this from the perspective of a viewer of a tv program, so i was actually there for some reason.

these people were filming every minute of everything, and the final product was edited to make this guy look like an asshole….serious, go-out-of-their-way, extra effort turd polishing – and in the dream, it was workin’ like a charm. they got footage of temper tantrums during soundcheck, they got the poor bastard putting on makeup, picking out clothing, doing something to his toenails – you name it. and when the show was done, he got to put out an album, and it tanked. i mean, it could only have done worse if they hadn’t bothered to print any copies at all. and after the record, he ended up on one of those VH1 shows where they put all these people into a house….

…well, at least he didn’t get caught in a three-way with flavor flav and bridgette neilsen. not in the dream, anyway.

when i woke up, i felt bad for the guy – as if all this crap had actually happened. but then i remembered that he had a picture of himself with bachelor bob on his website…and it reoccurred to me that these idiots who end up on reality tv end up there because they want to, and for no other reason…

….oh, and then i remembered that it was only a dream and none of this meant anything, nor had any bearing on what kind of a person this particular individual was in the first place.

by the time i was rooting through the sock drawer for two socks that vaguely resembled each other, i’d forgotten all about it.

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