This probably makes me a Grinch

This probably makes me a Grinch

By: Misty Fritz

Even though I’m an atheist, there are certain aspects of Christmas I enjoy: the lights and decorations (as long as I don’t have to be the one who puts them up), the family togetherness, the cheesy movies, finding the perfect gifts for loved ones (I’m especially thrilled with what I got for my mom and sister this year). I could (and do) just do without the religious bits.

There’s one thing about Christmas I absolutely loathe, though, that will probably make me seem like an especially grumpy Grinch: the music. With a few exceptions (Gayla Peevey’s “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” comes to mind for always making me smile), I hate it. I especially hate how ubiquitous it becomes right after Thanksgiving, or even earlier — KEZK made the switch on Nov. 16, for crying out loud! It’s inescapable in stores, and listening to the radio in the car is like playing Russian roulette, because even stations that don’t go all-Christmas, all the time like to sprinkle them in occasionally, so the only surefire way to truly avoid it is to avoid the radio entirely and opt instead for other sources of music, like CDs or my phone.

The newspaper office sits just off the Carlinville square, so you can imagine how annoyed I was the last few years when I could hear it blaring inside my office all day long. I sincerely felt sorry for the people who live in the apartments on or near the square. Thankfully, this year they seem to have the music playing at a lower volume, or maybe my space heater (which is running constantly because I am an icicle this year) has drowned it out. Either way, I don’t hear it unless I actually go outside, and that’s much better than years past.

There’s one Christmas song in particular that I loathe but that most people seem to particularly enjoy, and that’s “Carol of the Bells.” You might think my distaste for it stems from how popular it is, but that’s not the case; it all dates back to the 1987 A Claymation Christmas Celebration, which debuted on CBS on my third birthday (though I don’t know when I actually watched it for the first time). The show is a delight in many ways (California Raisins! Talking dinosaurs!), but “Carol of the Bells” is performed by the Paris Bell-Harmonic, a bunch of anthropomorphic church bells that hit themselves in the head with mallets to play the notes of the song. For some reason, everything about that profoundly disturbed me as a young child and has left a lasting negative association with the song for my entire life. The only media I can think of that scarred me more as a child was E.T. Sure, I can laugh about it now, some 30 years later, but the truth remains: if “Carol of the Bells” comes on the radio (or television, given how many commercials use it this time of year), I will probably flinch and immediately rush to change the station.