I secretly loaded Sufjan Steven’s five-volume Songs For Christmas to my iPod in October. Not long after I pulled out Hawksley Workman’s Almost a Full Moon and Vince Guaraldi’s A Charlie Brown Christmas alongside James Brown’s Santa Claus Go Straight to the Ghetto track. Today the holiday flood gates are officially open. No longer will I stall when Mr. Dandy bursts into the room and asks “uh, was that King’s College Choir singing Ding, Dong Merrily on High?” December 1st means that choral music, Fitzgerald and Burl Ives are A-OK. And any free form dance that accompanies these tunes will not be viewed with alarmed expressions and a glance at the calendar. I used to be strict regarding when it was safe and appropriate to break out the holiday tuneage. When I learned a few years ago that a friend routinely begins listening to the Carpenter’s Christmas Collection in September (possibly even earlier), I realized I could throw a little caution to the wind. Yank the headphones from my ears on the bus and I could be listening to Elliott Smith, or Hannah Georgas or…June Christy’s This Time of Year. I feel liberated and I don’t flinch at the scroogeness of others who can’t handle an extra jingle bell or roasting chestnut here and there.
This year I took the opportunity to locate my all-time favourite Christmas album on iTunes: Liona Boyd’s A Guitar for Christmas. Released in 1981 by the First Lady of guitar, Boyd’s album has been played every year while my family bakes or decorates the tree. The cassette tape is still well and alive and was even sent to my dorm in first year university; my mom thought I needed a little cheer up over a biology exam that was scheduled for the very last possible day. I sought out a tape player from a floor mate and secretly played A Guitar for Christmas while I stared blankly at descriptions of cells and lab reports. Frankly, Christmas just isn’t the same without Spanish Carol or Yuletide Garland.