I try to enjoy Christmas, I really do. I love the religious significance, but amid the commercials and the traffic and the crowds of shoppers decidedly not in the holiday spirit, I often find myself wishing we could cancel the whole thing and replace it with Thanksgiving redux (meaning all of the food, none of the stress).
Twinkle lights help matters. Much like donuts, there are few situations they can't improve. I also turn up the Christmas music to help me stay in the mood. This can go well, but sometimes, like when I try the "all Christmas, all the time" radio station, I end up even more sour than when I began.
Inevitably, the song playing when I first tune in is a good one, like Bing Crosby's White Christmas or my childhood favorite Feliz Navidad (don't mock!). Then things get ugly. It might be Mariah Carey trying to shatter glass with her vocal range or maybe an R&B artist bringing a little funk to a classic or, worst of all, a brand new song about Christmas and love and someone's feeeeeelings. Bleh. In any case, it's contemporary, updated, and often quite painful.
Rarely do modern versions get the tone right when it comes to Christmas music (Chris Isaak is a notable exception). I like funk as much as the next girl, but I don't want it in Jingle Bells. Instead of forcing innovation or trying to show off one's entire vocal range in one poor, beleaguered song, I'd rather musicians kept it simple. With a talented artist and a classic song, you can't go wrong playing it straight.
So I've learned my lesson. I will stick with church choirs, Chris Isaak, The Boston Pops, John Denver and the Muppets and, of course, Bing Crosby. Those never fail to get me in a holiday mood.