Can a man change his stars? – A Knight’s Tale
When my mother was growing up, she never had the kind of Christmas Hallmark sells, and she was determined that my brother and I would have a different experience. She was largely successful, but even so, some of her holiday ambivalence transmitted to me, and not all of the traditions imparted were intentional. Case in point – our distaste for Christmas music. My mom and I both hate the commercial frenzy of the holidays anyway, but the Christmas muzak assault is the final straw that sends us both running to mail order. With extremely few exceptions, it is just BAD MUSIC that we are all force-fed for a month every year, and to add insult to injury, we are expected to feel nostalgic about it.
One exception is “The Little Drummer Boy” (originally released as “The Carol of the Drum).” We love that song. My mom has a superstition that if the first Christmas Carol she hears is “The Little Drummer Boy,” then it’s going to be a good Christmas. I’ve come to put way too much stock into what Christmas carol I hear first, too. If it’s the relatively rare “The Little Drummer Boy,” I’m sure it will be a holiday to remember. “Silver Bells” is okay too. But if I walk into the grocery store the weekend after Thanksgiving and hear “Jingle Bells,” you might as well cancel Christmas.
This morning I thought, why leave it to chance? I’ll take my holiday fate in my own hands. I got on MOG and searched for “Little Drummer Boy.” The top results were: Josh Groban, Bing Crosby, and Faith Hill. I chose the unknown quantity. The bombastic swells and manly appoggiatura were not quite what I had in mind, but were quite satisfactory. In exchange for promises of housecleaning help, I agreed to play Groban’s album Noel.
The house filled with Christmas bliss, holy music wafted from the speakers while little girls helped each other pick up toys in the living room and mom cleaned up the kitchen. Humming the Ave Maria, I carried a bowl of food scraps out the back door and stopped short when I almost stepped on the cat.
He looked up at me just like Gary Oldman as Dracula crouching over the body of Lucy Westenra. There on the ground in front of the yard waste bin lay a tiny, sweet little field mouse, kicking its hind legs in slow-motion, as its life ebbed. I chased the cat away, but it was too late for the little mouse. But the poor thing was only mostly dead, and I couldn’t bring myself to throw a slightly alive mouse in the trash. Like a coward, I dumped my bowl in the yard waste and ran inside. I locked the cat door so the cat couldn’t bring his prize inside.
I kept my promise to play the whole Christmas CD, but my holiday spirit was spirit was certainly dampened. I couldn’t decide how to interpret the results of my experiment in manipulating omens, but on the whole, I decided the best thing was to stick with the rationalists and deny their validity at all. Besides, Chinese New Year is more important to our family than Christmas anyway.
As soon as the Christmas carols were done, I rushed to the stereo to put on Lockerbie. Nothing bad can happen while you’re listening to Lockerbie.
Here is wishing you and yours a happy and auspicious finale to 2012, and a healthy and prosperous Year of the Snake. And if Santa Lucia’s Day is our last holiday before Ah Puch ends it all – see you on the flip side.
And a Solstice Post-script: Well the world didn’t end today, but look what did happen!