Ah, December: a magical time of year here in America. Whether you celebrate religious holidays or not, December is the month when the year wraps up and many of us, if we’re lucky, get a little bit of time off from work. Ideally, this month should be one of winding-down and reflection, a chance to relieve the stress of the past few months and focus on what is truly important. But it’s never that easy, is it?
Of course, there’s the frantic consumerism that has come to characterize Christmas, in which bargain-hungry shoppers flood the stores and fight tooth-and-nail over cheap merchandise. Then there’s the planning and preparation for the holiday meal – or meals, if you’re hosting family for an extended period. And there’s also the prospect of actually spending time with loved ones: a supposedly enjoyable activity that can sometimes become clouded by silly feuds, long-standing grudges, and the simple fact that no matter how much you love your family, after a few days together in close quarters you’re bound to annoy each other. All this on top of the December “wind down,” which those of us who work in academia know is more like a mad rush to the finish line, attempting to complete final grading, projects, and last-minute meetings all while indulging in office Christmas parties and gift exchanges. It’s enough to send anyone running for the spiked eggnog.
So while our last month’s proF theme was “gratitude,” this month’s is “crisis.” Namely, that crazy-making stretch of time dubbed The Holiday Season. I’ve compiled a playlist of songs about the stress of the holiday (The Waitresses, “Christmas Wrapping,” The Ramones, “Merry Christmas [I Don’t Want to Fight Tonight”]), losing one’s mind (The Pixies, “Where is my Mind,” Talking Heads, “Crosseyed and Painless”), struggling to cope (Aimee Mann, “Save Me,” The Dream Syndicate, “Tell Me When It’s Over”), or being straight-up annoyed (Salt N Pepa’s classic “Somebody’s Gettin’ on my Nerves”). While it might not make you feel any better, it’ll certainly remind you that you’re not alone. Cheers to another year of yuletide joy survival!