Joyous voices sweet and clear
Several years ago, my hubby bought me an iPod Nano for my birthday. I had been resistant to the notion of an iPod. I was used to the ritual of changing out discs in a carrying case I kept with me to use with my portable disc player, and I just didn’t quite see the point.
The funny thing was that I had iTunes installed on my computer and had imported a bunch of my music CDs into its library. One of my Palm Pilots had used iTunes to synch music, so I had given it a try. I hadn’t been terribly impressed with the experience, but I had found iTunes on the computer a bit easier to use than other music playing software, so I had kept it.
The iPod quickly changed my mind. The convenience of something that fit in my pocket and replaced both the portable player and the carrying case with all those discs should have been obvious, I suppose. I found myself importing music like crazy, because the small number of discs I’d imported before that would hardly fill the Nano’s humongous 4 gigs of space.
I spent most of the Thanksgiving weekend importing Christmas music, and wound up with about 3 gigs worth of holiday songs. That left enough room on the Nano for a Scissor Sisters album, a few Queen albums, and my podcasts. So I could set the entire iPod music collection on shuffle for the month of December. I would get mostly Christmas music, with an occasional non-Christmas song to break things up.
And, of course, the iPod carried a much larger portion of my Christmas music collection than I’d been able to carry around in that case for discs.
The following year, Apple released the very first iPod Touch about a week before my birthday. Guess what my hubby gave me for my birthday? I think he got me the 16gig model, which seemed enormous. It was enough of an incentive to get me working a bit more seriously at importing all of my music collection on disc into the computer. I don’t remember how much of my Christmas music I got imported for that second Christmas (and because of a hard disk crash a few years ago, I can’t use the “date added” information in iTunes to make a guess–iTunes thinks the date added for about half my library is the day I bought the new hard disk and started restoring from backup), but it was far less than 16 gigs, and so I had start making big playlists if I wanted to have something I could randomize to give me hours of Christmas music while working.
Christmas music is one of my obsessions. I usually start listening to it a day or two after Thanksgiving and keep listening to it through Three Kings Day. Unfortunately, my hubby is one of those people who really dislikes Christmas music, or at least a lot of it. I’ve managed to figure out a bunch he can stand, and load that up in the player for the car. Otherwise, I listen to it when he’s in the other room or try to remember to use my headphones.
My hubby’s not the only person I know who has issues with at least some kinds of Christmas songs. I know a lot of folks who have problems with the specifically religious music. As a gay kid growing up in a very conservative and uptight denomination, I understand. Some sacred music triggers memories of very bad experiences. I get that what some people hear in those songs is, “You must conform to this belief system that has oppressed you, or else!”
My particular idiosyncrasy is that traditional religious Christmas songs just don’t register that way for me. I know all the words to “O, Holy Night” in more than one language (my Latin’s a bit rusty, but…), and intellectually I get that it’s sacred, but emotionally, it’s Holiday Music, to me. It evokes the same sense of wonder I get when accompanying friends out to the countryside and looking up into the night sky, hundreds of miles from a city, where the enormity of the universe is visible just by looking up. I love singing along to “Angels We Have Heard on High” because I remember the many Christmas concerts where I either sang it or played in the orchestra. In my head, I’m singing the tenor, and bass, and alto part (and wishing I could hit all the notes for the soprano), as well as playing the trumpet and baritone horn parts.
So I get a little bit too enthusiastic about lyrics that sometimes annoy some of my friends.
For me, Christmas is a season of light. We do these things to remember that the sun will come back, to remind ourselves how much metaphorical light our friends and other loved ones bring to our hearts throughout the year, and to give a bit of light and joy to both loved ones and complete strangers.