Do you hear what I hear? Your brain on Christmas music

Noah Berger / AP file

All those holiday shoppers...and all that holiday music. Can your brain handle it?

Shana McGough likes Christmas music, until she hears too much of it.

"I think at first Christmas music is nice, it's nostalgic, and it gets me into the holiday spirit," says the writer from Escondido, Calif. Then, "it gets old, and it can start to feel like a part of a giant sales machine trying to bleed me dry."

She also suspects that for anyone of a different faith who doesn't celebrate Christmas,"holiday music must be beyond annoying, right into offensive."

If it’s not started already, by the time the Thanksgiving meal is devoured and the stores open for Black Friday, Christmas music will be inescapable. After hearing 'Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree' and 'Frosty the Snowman' for the umpteenth time, you might be hoping for a silent night.

Earlier this month Canada's top pharmacy chain Shoppers Drug Mart Corp. heeded shopper complaints and put the holiday music on pause until later in the season. Even for people who celebrate Christmas, listening to the same seemingly inescapable seasonal songs over and over again may be incredibly irritating.

Endless loops of “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer” or any tinsel-y tune can have a psychological impact known as the 'mere exposure effect,' says Victoria Williamson, Ph.D, who conducts research on the psychology of music at Goldsmiths, University of London. There's a U-shaped relationship between the amount of times we hear music that we like and our subsequent reaction to it, she says.

As Williamson puts it, at first we like music a bit, then we like it more and more until it hits a peak. And then we crash down -- we have overheard it. That's when boredom and annoyance at the repetition of the same sound hits home. "Anyone who has worked in a Christmas store over the holidays will know what I'm talking about," Williamson says. When asked why holiday music seems to have a polarizing effect, driving some people crazy while others like, or at least, can tolerate it, Williamson suggests that music's effect on us in any situation depends on our own psychological state.

People who are already stressed out about the holidays -- worrying about money, traveling, or seeing relatives -- may find the musical reminder of the cause of their stress very unwelcome, she says. But those who approach the holidays in a receptive, relaxed state are more likely to get a boost from the happy associations -- childhood memories, family gatherings, or the holiday's religious meaning -- triggered by holiday music.

Of course, the reason Christmas music is played in every department store, supermarket from Thanksgiving through December. Music can put us in the mood to spend money, research suggests.

"We've shown that 'holiday appropriate' music combined with congruent 'holiday scents' can influence shoppers by increasing the amount of time they spend in a store, their intention to revisit it, and intention to purchase," says Eric Spangenberg, Ph.D, dean of the College of Business at Washington State University in Pullman, who has studied the  influence of music on holiday shopping.

He says that some types of music work better than others. "Slower tempo music slows down shoppers, and they spend more time and money in a store," Spangenberg explains. Faster-paced pieces move people through the store quicker than retailers would like.

For Charlie Muldoon, only certain types of holiday music can put him in a good mood.

"I find the traditional songs sung by the great artists of the 50s and 60s or the funny songs about 'Grandma Getting Run Over by a Reindeer' put a smile on my face," says the Washington, DC-based professional polo player. 

"But those remakes by commercial singers and rappers make me want to go postal," Muldoon confesses. And some sounds make him forget the season's peace on earth, goodwill toward men sentiment. "Those 'elevator' versions of holiday music make me want to take a bat to the machine that plays them," he says.

As long as Christmas songs are played after Thanksgiving, Mary Leach, a public relations professional who lives in Cambridge, Mass., doesn’t mind. To her, "Christmas [music and decorations] much prior to Turkey Day is just plain wrong."

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I, for one, get very tired of the music very quickly. It's been overdone. And knowing it is done not out of any sort of generosity but of greed to get more and ever more shoppers doesn't help. So, I make most of my gifts, and do as little shopping in the stores as possible!

Hmmm, maybe we should play Islamic music during Ramadan, Jewish music for a month before and during their High Holy Days, Hindu music - surely the stores could find 12 religions and we could have a month of X Religious music all year long. Why limit it to Christianity?

  • 21 votes
#1 - Fri Nov 23, 2012 10:28 AM EST

I wanted to cry reading these posts because FINALLY I am not alone.

  • 15 votes
#1.1 - Fri Nov 23, 2012 5:28 PM EST

I can't stand Christmas music from the get-go... maybe because I have some I can't seem to eliminate from my playlists, so I never get the 11-month break everyone else does. I normally go for the funny or dark songs a little more, but 'Walkin 'Round in Women's Underwear' pops up WAY too often for my liking. It was funny; now it's overorchestrated and trite to me.

And speaking of annoying, try living in a place that insists on playing only Jingle Bells and Let It Snow, because after Dec 5 (Sinterklaas), those are the only things that are releavant. Or possibly the only holiday songs the Dutch know. o.0

  • 4 votes
#1.2 - Fri Nov 23, 2012 6:13 PM EST

I love Christmas music! I listen to it all year long!

  • 12 votes
#1.3 - Fri Nov 23, 2012 6:22 PM EST
plain bobDeleted

Oooohhhh,,Jingle Bells - JingleBells - Jingle ALL the Waaaayyyyy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ooohh What Fun It Is to Know Those clowns Have Gone AwaaaayyYY!!!!

  • 1 vote
#1.5 - Fri Nov 23, 2012 8:45 PM EST

Christmas music is just plain godawful, from the very first note until it finally ends until next early November. For the record, not all of us are suckered into staying in stores longer and buying more. I may not be able to avoid the noise completely (and, let's face it, stores play crappy music year-round), but when it's too loud and unrelenting, I make a point of taking my business someplace capable of a modicum of subtlety as they reach into my pockets.

  • 6 votes
#1.6 - Fri Nov 23, 2012 9:09 PM EST

Because gilamonster, Christianity is the majority in this country.

  • 3 votes
#1.7 - Fri Nov 23, 2012 9:22 PM EST

if anyone wants to learn more about the history of American radio, there is a pocket book writer (Nick Tosches) whose book "Save The Last Dance for Satan" which was featured in excerpts via Vanity Fair that traces the history of American music via radio and the advent of rock n roll beginning in the late 1950's. It traces the payola timeline, whom stole whose music and whom didn't get paid, which is basically the artists and writers.-some died penniless in the hospital according to his book. Its an under 200 pages turning one intense fact over to the next, leading right up to today's pop market. Brilliant book for any person that is curious how their radio system worked throughout the decades and best of all its pop culture at its finest. Then if your really interested research Bill Clinton's "Telecommunications Act of 1996" when he allowed American radio to become monopolized, ruining possible opportunity for masses amounts of musical works...

"Save The Last Dance For Satan" by Nick Tosches, get a copy its thoroughly entertaining, enlightening....

  • 2 votes
#1.8 - Fri Nov 23, 2012 9:32 PM EST

F--- Christmas. If I went to sleep on Thanksgivng and woke up on Jan 2d I'd be really happy. Today, Black Friday, is a perfect example of what is wrong with this country. Christmas has become nothing but a prop for the U S economy. Imagine how bad things would be if we didn't have Christmas to prop up the winter.

Here's to all the idiots who stood in line al night only to find out that oe tv they wnted was likmited to one a store and they didn't get it. Hahaha!!!!

  • 11 votes
#1.9 - Sat Nov 24, 2012 1:40 AM EST

It's interesting that such a big deal is made about Christmas when the most significant day on the Christian calendar is actually Easter.

I can't stand the endless barrage of Christmas music either. Once I've heard it for a while, I can't get it out of my head. Sometimes, even playing music that I like to try to flush it out doesn't help.

  • 3 votes
#1.10 - Sat Nov 24, 2012 9:21 AM EST


Hmmm, maybe we should play Islamic music during Ramadan

Maybe go to a Muslim country for this? You will also certainly enjoy the call for prayer 5 times a day.

And speaking of Islamic countries, while here it seems we have more and more Grinches, on the other hand people celebrate Christmas in Iran.

Personally I like Christmas, the music, the decorations, the general atmosphere during the Holidays, many enjoy this time of the year (I don't mean the Grinches of course), and smiles and good will are seen more often then usual.

I also enjoy receiving wishes even for Holidays that I don't celebrate personally, as they are always offered in good spirit. I don't see any reason to be offended by this, whether someone wishes you a Merry Christmas or a Happy Hanukkah, or any other holiday.

Here are a few pictures of Christmas in Iran (decorations in the streets and stores):

  • 3 votes
#1.11 - Sat Nov 24, 2012 10:02 AM EST

It takes about two minutes for me. I shopped a bit yesterday, and I almost told the store that if they turn it off, I'll stay a bit longer. I know they only do that to get people in the mood, but it has the opposite effect on me. I can't stand it anymore.

    #1.12 - Sat Nov 24, 2012 5:28 PM EST

    Couldn't agree more, Gila. It's still 4 weeks until Christmas and the music has been playing for 6 weeks already. I am already tired of Christmas. Retailers need to be reminded of the true meaning of Christmas.

    • 1 vote
    #1.13 - Sat Nov 24, 2012 7:28 PM EST

    I love Christmas, I love Christmas song, I hate shopping during the Christmas season. I avoid store like the plague. Not because of the music but because of the murderous cattle of people that will rip your arm off to get to the last "must have" toy. I dont buy into the commercialization of Christmas but I do love giving presents. For me present giving is less about receiving an expensive gift but rather receiving / giving something that was well thought out. Whatever I get, no matter how small I like to think that the person that gave it to me took time to really think about me and what would put a real genuine smile on my face...and vice versa

    That being said. I really dont care if Christmas music offends anyone. A) Im Canadian and our Thanksgiving is in October so anytime after Halloween is fair game B) Christians spend 11 months out of the year pussy footing around our religion so we dont offend others C) I know plenty of Muslim people who give their families and Christmas celebrating friends gifts. I dont know what rule book says that you can't wish people good will or participate in their celebrations. When I remember, I wish my friends Happy Eid and if I knew any Jewish people I would wish them shalom Chanukah.

    If you hate Christmas music in the malls so much, why are you spending so much time in them buying Christmas presents?

    • 4 votes
    #1.14 - Mon Nov 26, 2012 9:39 AM EST

    If I hear it before Thanksgiving, it makes me angry because I know it's all about commercialization. After Thanksgiving is fine. Don't have a great deal of tolerance for the cutesy songs though ("Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer," etc.).

    • 19 votes
    Reply#2 - Fri Nov 23, 2012 10:32 AM EST

    Agree with gilamnonster70. Went to the store today and started gritting my teeth when in 20 min I heard Rockin around the Christmas tree twice. I will avoid the stores until February. Besides, that our economy is so dependent on people buying mostly "stuff" they don't really want or need is depressing, so I prefer to stay away so I don't think about how low we have gone.

    • 12 votes
    Reply#3 - Fri Nov 23, 2012 10:37 AM EST

    I can't stand it right from the start. It drives me crazy. A lot of it is terrible music to begin with, but they play it because it's what they have.

    • 9 votes
    Reply#4 - Fri Nov 23, 2012 10:52 AM EST

    I think they play it because they either have the license for it, or it's public domain. Unless it's in the public domain, the stores have to pay for it. (Have you noticed how few stores have the radio on anymore? that's because the stations charge them!)

    • 7 votes
    #4.1 - Fri Nov 23, 2012 12:06 PM EST

    I love Christmas and love the carols but hate the retail frenzy part of the entire holiday. It really takes away from the meaning. Even if someone isn't religious it's a great season that should be set aside for being with your family (assuming you like them) or giving to the less fortunate. That's what this day was meant to be. I loath how these retailers high-jacked everything and turned it into a feeding frenzy and all the people that fall for it. They try to make you feel like the biggest a**hold for not buying the most expensive gift for your loved one. You can't tell me they don't love the craziness and the fights that goes on. It's money in the register.

    When I hear the music playing in the stores, I don't feel nostalgia because I know the reason it's playing is to entice you to spend more money on so much meaningless junk. Okay, I"ll get off my soapbox now.

    • 8 votes
    #4.2 - Fri Nov 23, 2012 4:16 PM EST

    I've come to loathe the whole "holiday" thing entirely, because of the music. Not having a family, and not being a Christian. I don't need reminders with cloyingly sweet carols, that I don't have those I've lost. And I don't need to be force fed religious music for a faith I don't agree with. If I have to go to the store, I get out as fast as possible to get away from it. I will avoid any that go overboard until after the new year. Even the radio is on many stations non-stop saccharin Xmas noise.

    • 8 votes
    #4.3 - Fri Nov 23, 2012 5:12 PM EST

    I have spent many years working in retail where as soon as Black Friday hits, so does the Christmas music. Which is perfectly fine by me. In the world today, the Christmas season begins the day after Thanksgiving, so should the Christmas music. But in the last few years, it has seemed as though stores will start playing Christmas music on November 1st. People want to be able to enjoy the Christmas season and its theme music, but by inundating us for 2 straight months with nothing but Christmas is enough to drive the most sane person right off their rocker!

    • 6 votes
    #4.4 - Fri Nov 23, 2012 7:02 PM EST

    OOooooohhhhh JingleBells - JingleBells - Jingle All The WaaayyyYYY!!!!

    Now the Work Really Starts to Flush Them ALL AwaaaaYYYY!!!!

    OooohhhhhJingleBells - JingleBells - Jingle All The WaaaYYY...

    StoolHard Politicos will Alwaayys Try to StaaayyyYYY!!!

    Dashing Thru their Crap,

    In an Open Honest Race,

    Listen to their Lies, tight in your face,

    • 1 vote
    #4.5 - Fri Nov 23, 2012 9:00 PM EST

    I absolutely HATE songs like "Christmas Shoes", but love songs like "Carol of the Bells". The difference? "Christmas Shoes" just leaves me feeling manipulated and angry. "Carol of the Bells" is etheral and pretty.

    • 20 votes
    Reply#5 - Fri Nov 23, 2012 11:19 AM EST

    I agree. Keep Christmas Music Classy - and in Moderation.

    Happy Holidays...

    • 16 votes
    #5.1 - Fri Nov 23, 2012 11:48 AM EST

    doofydobby - Oh, I totally agree with you about "Christmas Shoes". What a terrible song! I love Christmas music, but not before Thanksgiving and in moderation. I am also very picky about my Christmas music. I get tired of the same version of a song over and over again. I like alternative Christmas music like, Anuna, Cajun Christmas songs (Beau Soleil), Ottmar Liebert, Handel's Messiah, The Chieftains, Enya and Winter Solstice, but mixed in with a few classics.

    Anything too schmaltzy or supposedly funny (Grandmas Got Run Over By a Reindeer) and I want to throw up!

    • 3 votes
    #5.2 - Fri Nov 23, 2012 5:42 PM EST

    I agree about schmaltzy and faddish Christmas music ie: I Saw Mama Kissing Santa Claus, Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree, Santa Baby, etc.
    I can barely stomach the old songs

    • 4 votes
    #5.3 - Fri Nov 23, 2012 7:38 PM EST

    'Christmas Shoes' is THE most depressing Christmas song, ever. 'Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer' works my last nerve. Stevie Nicks' version of 'Silent Night' and Madonna's version of 'Santa Baby' are horrible. I don't care for Amy Grant's version of 'The Christmas Song' or whatever it's called...that shrill "yoo-hoo" in the song just about sends me over the edge.

    I too am picky about my Christmas music. Keep it in moderation, AND after Thanksgiving! Starting December 1st is even better. There's enough Christmas music out there that the music rotation can be many hours, if not days, before a song repeats. Handel's Messiah, The Nutcracker Suite, 'Christmas in Hollis' by Run-DMC, Queen's 'A Winter's Tale', Sting's 'Gabriel's Song', Nat King Cole, Bing Crosby...that's what I'd rather listen to.

    • 3 votes
    #5.4 - Fri Nov 23, 2012 7:42 PM EST

    "The Carol of the Bells" always struck me as one of those tunes that people can't get out of their head resulting in institutionalization. Bing bong.

    • 2 votes
    #5.5 - Fri Nov 23, 2012 9:19 PM EST

    I definitely agree that Christmas music should wait till after Thanksgiving. And it would be nice if stores, etc. would intersperse some non-Xmas. I think a lot of the problem arises from the fact that radio stations, stores, and anyone else playing music to the public now find that it is not acceptable to play religious music. I understand and appreciate that those who are not Christian do not want to listen to Christian music. But the fact is, that's where the roots of Christmas music are.

    By removing religion, we've lost so much of the music which has been treasured over the years, not only for its meaning, but also for the artistry in composition and performance. We no longer get to hear Handel's Messiah or many of the beautiful renditions by the great performers, vocal and orchestral, that many of us grew up with. (Not sure why Nutcracker Suite is no longer played, except that anything remotely classical seems to looked down upon.)

    So we're left with new songs we've never heard before, some of which should never have been recorded, and new renditions of old songs with singers trying to show they could have written them better. While a few of the new ones each season are fine, many of them are just bad.

    So I also spend as little time as possible in the stores with irritating music. In my home I can select from my own collection of music that I really enjoy, relax or go about my chores, and get (and keep) myself in the mood for a happy and peaceful Christmas.

    Wishing you all a meaningful and peaceful season, regardless of whether or how you choose to celebrate it.

    • 2 votes
    #5.6 - Sat Nov 24, 2012 3:25 AM EST

    "Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time" by Paul McCartney= the worst, and for some reason, a huge favorite with radio stations.

    • 3 votes
    #5.7 - Sun Nov 25, 2012 1:33 AM EST

    @ Sk1805

    I know right! I HATE that song and they play it over and over. Doesn't even have any nostalgic value.

    • 1 vote
    #5.8 - Sun Nov 25, 2012 9:01 AM EST

    I actually haven't heard that song in a long time. I think it might be a good thing. (^_^)

    I do so hope you have a very Merry Christmas Sk1805 and John Bean 512K

    • 1 vote
    #5.9 - Sun Nov 25, 2012 9:07 AM EST

    I'm not saying I hate Christmas or anything. That song just annoys me to death and everybody else just loves it for some reason. Nat King Cole and Bing Crosby all the way.

    • 1 vote
    #5.10 - Sun Nov 25, 2012 9:12 AM EST

    I so agree. Well as I belong to a really great Choir in Georgia called UNDIVIDED we sing a lot of the old greats, We love Bing and Nat King Cole and love to sing their songs.

    • 1 vote
    #5.11 - Sun Nov 25, 2012 9:19 AM EST

    "Keep it classy..." I have found that, all too often, one man's class is another man's crass when it comes to music.....

    • 1 vote
    #5.12 - Mon Nov 26, 2012 12:24 PM EST

    The coffee house I am in is playing crummy Christmas music right now (If I ___ing hear ___— ____— Santa baby one more ___— ____— time....grrrrrrrr). Thank God for Ferry Corsten, Armind Van Buuren and their Podcasts. I have the headphones out.....

    • 3 votes
    Reply#6 - Fri Nov 23, 2012 11:53 AM EST

    T.R. Hendricks. That song is a reflections of what Christmas has become today; "gimme gimme gimme". So sad the beauty of it all has been taken away.

    • 6 votes
    #6.1 - Fri Nov 23, 2012 4:27 PM EST
    plain bobDeleted

    If I have to go back into a store before Christmas, I'm playing Led Zeppelin or ELP cranked up. Good idea. I was going to just take earplugs, but I think a little volume should drown out that crap.

    • 2 votes
    #6.3 - Sat Nov 24, 2012 5:31 PM EST

    Any time before Thanksgiving or past December 26th it is inappropriate to play it, and those cookie-cutter pop-singer Christmas songs annoy the hell out of me. There are a few rock-themed songs that I like, and the classics, and also some instrumentals and chants that are nice. Nothing by anyone who has music on mainstream current-hits radio stations at any other time of the year, though (at least not usually).

    • 9 votes
    Reply#7 - Fri Nov 23, 2012 12:35 PM EST

    It's SILLY SEASON!!! Break out the warm fuzzies: heart-warming commercials, news stories about good will toward men (that make me wonder why only at this time of year), pictures of puppies in Santa hats. AWWWWW! Ain't it cute! Now open your wallet. I am sick of the emotional manipulation and have been known to walk out of stores playing stupid music like "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus." Oh, please.

    Storeowners, survey your customers, see if they actually want to to listen to this drivel. Christmas shopping is such a greed fest, who knows -- your bottom line could actually improve as people like me and the dissenters posting above dare venture into your stores if you stop inviting us to "Rock Around the Christmas Tree." Until then, I will sit out the whole fiasco that Silly Season has become.

    A few years ago a friend, who feels as I do (and who is a dyed-in-the-wool Christian), gave me a Christmas card that I just love. It had a picture of a guy in a Santa suit sitting down, leaning forward and projecting a middle finger toward the camera. The caption read, "Here's your f*@&#ing Christmas present." This, at least, is an honest sentiment.

    May we feel peace and good will toward our fellow men every day of the year. Here is my Christmas present to all of my brothers and sisters who walk this Earth: I vow to do no violence, to speak my truth, to care for the future more than the present, to have love as my main motivation. It is a small thing. But at least I have not lost who I am to a short term materialistic frenzy.

    • 8 votes
    Reply#8 - Fri Nov 23, 2012 12:59 PM EST

    Dear Becoming--having love as your main motivation is no small thing! I think that's a marvelous present you are giving. Thank you.

    • 2 votes
    #8.1 - Fri Nov 23, 2012 1:23 PM EST

    Best anecdote on this vine today :)

    Your Dyed in the wool Christian Friend does have a passage of scripture to back that card up.... It is Luke 19:45-46 and it goes something like this: "Then he (Jesus) entered the temple area and began driving out those who were selling."It is written," he said to them, "'My house will be a house of prayer'; but you have made it 'a den of robbers.'" (New International Version translation) While we can debate the f-bomb, we can agree that the commercialization of this season can be drawn as downright sorry, if not blasphemous.

    Thank you for sharing that anecdote with us and have a wonderful Holiday.

    • 9 votes
    #8.2 - Fri Nov 23, 2012 3:26 PM EST

    T.R. Hendricks, I really like that. Thanks for posting it. That sums up what I've been thinking for years.

    • 1 vote
    #8.3 - Fri Nov 23, 2012 4:18 PM EST

    I am having a low-key Christmas. I will decorate the Christmas tree and the house, eat, drink and be merry. I will only be giving money or gift cards to only my closest family members and will avoid the stores, as much as possible.

    Very tired of the commercialization of Christmas, while the big box stores care only about their bottom line. Christmas is supposed to be a time of peace, love, reflection and enjoying your friends and family. It's about relaxing, reading a good book, listening to whatever Christmas music you want to hear, watching a good fire (if you have a fireplace), drinking hot chocolate, laughing and contemplating the beauty of a winter's day, even more so if it's snowing.

    It certainly isn't about knocking people down on Black Friday to get a cheap whatchamacallit and running your charge cards up, only to find yourself deep in debt when Christmas is over. How sad.

    • 10 votes
    #8.4 - Fri Nov 23, 2012 5:59 PM EST

    That's just it, Krisi234; I realized long ago, we've always had the best times just by keeping it simple. All of this stress people put on themselves just to have a good time is hardly worth it. People wait in line for hours and knock each other over just to get something for somebody that will probably wind up unused in a pile in just few weeks or less. People have been killed over this stuff.

    Keep it simple; enjoy the family, have a nice dinner and some drinks, maybe a few token presents for the kids and enjoy. That's what it's all about. That's what people will remember the most, the smiles, the laughs the good times.. Very few will exactly remember the gifts they got but that's where these retailers want you to focus on more than anything. Too bad more people don't realize this.

    • 4 votes
    #8.5 - Fri Nov 23, 2012 6:35 PM EST

    That's one of the reasons why Halloween is gaining in popularity and is my favorite holiday. No stress, no presents - just candy - and having fun. I work at an amusement park and dress up as a witch (good witch, of course!). I love seeing the kids' costumes and watching the excitement in their faces as they pretend to be a Power Ranger, Princess, witch, etc. Watching them dance with Frankenstein to the "Hokey Pokey", "Chicken Dance", "Monster Mash" makes me very happy and puts everyone in a good mood.

    That's how Christmas should be.

    • 4 votes
    #8.6 - Fri Nov 23, 2012 6:48 PM EST


      #8.7 - Sat Nov 24, 2012 5:09 AM EST

      I love Christmas music.

      • 5 votes
      #8.8 - Sat Nov 24, 2012 5:33 AM EST

      "I am having a low-key Christmas. I will decorate the Christmas tree and the house, eat, drink and be merry. I will only be giving money or gift cards to only my closest family members and will avoid the stores, as much as possible." I'll second that Kris1234-3592742! Happy holidays!

      • 3 votes
      #8.9 - Sat Nov 24, 2012 9:23 AM EST

      Merry Christmas to you, too, Art!

      Have a safe and Happy Holidays to everyone, no matter what you celebrate. Just celebrate!!!

      • 2 votes
      #8.10 - Sat Nov 24, 2012 10:34 AM EST

      I am stationed here in Germany and my husband is deployed downrange so it is just me and the dog. All of my children and grandchildren are in the states. Oh to be with them would be wonderful. Next year.

      Please remember our military who are not with their families this year.

      • 10 votes
      #8.11 - Sat Nov 24, 2012 12:15 PM EST

      Bah Humbug!

      At one time I really enjoyed Christmas but now that Christmas decorations vie for space with pumpkins and Halloween decorations and Christmas music is played before Thanksgiving day, I don't enjoy it anymore.

      12 days of Christmas? How about the 12 weeks of Christmas.

      • 9 votes
      Reply#9 - Fri Nov 23, 2012 1:33 PM EST

      Suggestion: How about a "12 Days of Christmas" rule: Only play Christmas music 12 days before (Christmas Day included). Then it stops at midnight Christmas Day!!!

      • 19 votes
      Reply#10 - Fri Nov 23, 2012 1:37 PM EST

      Great idea Phil!

      • 5 votes
      #10.1 - Fri Nov 23, 2012 1:58 PM EST

      For those of us who do not celebrate Christmas, we still have to deal with the "externalities", which are the negative by-products. We have to deal with crowds, traffic, mass consumption accelerating global climate change, and any number of random people coming up to us to tell us to enjoy their holiday (No, I will NOT have a Merry Christmas, and how dare you push your religion on me!).

      Retailers, please note that I and others avoid all stores that play that hideous soundtrack of the same 10 songs or so, over and over and over. I spend the bare minimum of time I need to, and try to go to stores that are respectful of all faiths and no faith.

      Christmas has ceased to be religious for most folks, as near as I can tell. It's just an excuse for gluttony by retailers and has become all about the trappings and none of what it purports to be (and historians agree Jesus was born in April, anyway...this December business is piggybacking the Jesus story onto the Mithraic and Egyptian traditions).

      There is no war Christmas, but Christmas is at war with a large part of the world!

      • 10 votes
      Reply#11 - Fri Nov 23, 2012 2:43 PM EST

      I never really understood why people get so hot-to-trot offended by being wished a "Merry Christmas". I'm not Christian, though I celebrate Christmas (since it's so much more a cultural tradition at this point than a religious one). To me, "Merry Christmas" is at the very worst, someone wishing you to have a good day on that day, preferably one where you feel warmth towards your family and loved ones during the dreary winter months no matter if you celebrate with a tree and presents and Christmas movies or just go about a normal day and eat a pizza and play Warcraft.

      I honestly would be delighted if people wished me a Happy Hanukkah or Happy Kwanza or Happy Solstice. I don't celebrate any of those holidays but the meaning is still the same.

      (Ditto goes for people who say "I'll put you in my prayers" when something bad happens. I don't pray or hold any believes explicitly subscribing to one major religion, but unless they are going to pray for me because of my lack of involvement in organized religion or particular choice of deity, then it holds the same meaning as when I tell someone that I'll send them happy thoughts and well wishes).

      • 19 votes
      #11.1 - Fri Nov 23, 2012 3:40 PM EST

      Why be offended if it was well meaning. It's better than having the finger thrown at you because you took the last good parking space.

      I've been greeted by a variety of religious sayings and never once was offended if it was well meaning. The last one I got was "hare krishna". Why be offended? No one was pushing their religion. Having someone shove a bible in my face telling me to repent before I burn in hell is pushing and that ticks me off. Someone wishing me and and my family well in passing is hardly pushing.

      • 10 votes
      #11.2 - Fri Nov 23, 2012 4:24 PM EST

      I'm religous and we don't Xmas. For ther real reason.

      • 1 vote
      #11.3 - Fri Nov 23, 2012 7:13 PM EST

      Christmas: Yes!

      Christmas Music: Arrrrrggggghhhhhh!!!

      • 5 votes
      Reply#12 - Fri Nov 23, 2012 3:03 PM EST

      everything is a marketing machine stupid article

      • 1 vote
      Reply#13 - Fri Nov 23, 2012 3:10 PM EST

      Yes, it's that time again when the Coca-Cola mascot wants you to shop at Macy's. And they'll use all their research into psycho-acoustics to subliminally motivate you into spending more money. Ti$ the season to maximize profits.

      • 4 votes
      Reply#14 - Fri Nov 23, 2012 3:17 PM EST

      Christmas music should come on the week before the holiday and NO SOONER!!!!! I used to love Christmas, but have grown sick of the whole season because of the over-commercialization of the retail season with the music. Also, there are HORRIBLE Christmas songs out there by Michael Jackson, Andy Williams, George Harrison, Elvis Presley, Burl Ives and several other singers that should absolutely be banned from public play.

      • 8 votes
      Reply#15 - Fri Nov 23, 2012 3:43 PM EST

      Okay, I could even handle up to 3 weeks before the holiday. But the music chosen is usually AWFUL - and played loud enough to burst your eardrums.

      Rather than hear "Rocking Around the Christmas Tree" one more time, I would pluck off my eyebrows with red hot pliers. Overall, I find that the "pop-ier" the song, the more it makes me vomit blood. And Elvis' "Blue Christmas" makes me suicidal. Seriously, I'd prefer the Chipmunks - circa 1960, before they went hip hop.

      There are such great "underknown" Christmas songs out there, e.g. "Bring the Torch, Jeanette Isabella," "Christmas Bells are Ringing," just about anything by John Rutter or Take 6. And, of course, the Christmas songs from South Park, How the Grinch Stole Christmas and the Colbert Christmas special.

      As for "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year," that old chestnut should be roasted on an open fire. Its best use was for the office supply commercial's Back to School sale.

      • 3 votes
      #15.1 - Fri Nov 23, 2012 8:08 PM EST

      One of the least objectionable Christmas songs is "The Holly and the Ivy" an old English song.
      But you never hear it.

      • 3 votes
      #15.2 - Fri Nov 23, 2012 8:27 PM EST

      Tina --

      I hear "The Holly and the Ivy" a lot in my house :) It's the title song of one of my favorite CDs.

      Daisy --

      I agree about the number of great "underknown" songs out there. (Good term.)

      But while most of the newer stuff should not be wasting airtime, IMO, I try to remember that a lot of the old music has meaning and memories for even younger people. My Mom died this past February at 93, and some of the songs bring back vivid recollections of her Christmas preparations (with 11 kids), often singing along with whatever the radio was playing. And since we had a large number of aunts, uncles and cousins, Christmas lasted quite a while, and, with it, the music.

      • 3 votes
      #15.3 - Sat Nov 24, 2012 3:51 AM EST

      As my boyfriend said in his best Bain voice:
      "Once Thanksgiving is over, you have my permission to be Christmas".

      • 3 votes
      Reply#16 - Fri Nov 23, 2012 3:45 PM EST

      mixedpie, I want this on a card! :D

      • 1 vote
      #16.1 - Fri Nov 23, 2012 6:23 PM EST

      Many of the comments posted hold my feelings entirely...enough with the suffocating holiday music already. I'm a Catholic and appreciate Christmas as a holy and spiritual time. With the commercialization of it all, it has become nothing less than than a teeth gnashing event. Several years ago my husband's stage IV cancer diagnosis came on December 22. Since that time the "joy of Christmas" has become non existant. It's a time to just get through. A few years ago a local radio station began playing Christmas music 24/7 the week of Thanksgiving up until New Year's! It was just nauseating. Not everyone is Christian and not everyone just adores the holidays as it seems we are all expected to. I've been waiting for an article like this for a very long time.

      • 7 votes
      Reply#17 - Fri Nov 23, 2012 4:07 PM EST

      My mother's father committed suicide right around what has now been defined as "Father's Day". So every year she gets to hear a month of "time to think about Dad" commercials before the anniversary. I guess there's no way to keep commercialism out of our holidays, but sometimes it feels like there's nothing left but commercialism.

      • 5 votes
      #17.1 - Fri Nov 23, 2012 4:22 PM EST

      I'm very sorry to read this, Jean. Good wishes to you.

      • 2 votes
      #17.2 - Fri Nov 23, 2012 4:30 PM EST

      While I love music, I wish retailers would do away with music period. I want to choose the time I will listen to music, and I want to choose the music I choose to listen to, but when I go to a grocery store, or an eating establishment I am robbed of that choice. Take music out of the malls, stores and give our poor ears a rest.

      • 7 votes
      Reply#18 - Fri Nov 23, 2012 4:16 PM EST

      Right, better that our poor ears should only hear screaming kids, arguing shoppers, and dolts having long, loud cell phone conversations. Yeah, that'll put us in the mood.

      • 1 vote
      #18.1 - Mon Nov 26, 2012 7:23 AM EST

      Right, better that our poor ears should only hear screaming kids, arguing shoppers, and dolts having long, loud cell phone conversations. Yeah, that'll put us in the mood.

      Sorry, I have yet to hear any music drown out that noise, it just adds to the noise.

        #18.2 - Tue Nov 27, 2012 2:46 PM EST

        I detest mall Christmas music. Between Black Friday and December 24th I feel like I'm going to slide into a diabetic coma every time I walk into a store. The utra-sweet, supposedly "soulful" voices with their huge wobbly vibratos pounding the Christmas message into me over and over... "You love your family, there's nothing more heartbreaking than having family relationships that postdate the 18th century.... Let's buy a bunch of sparkly jingle bells, mount them on our sleighs, hitch up our matching team of bob-tailed gray horses and take a jolly ride down I-95.... Thomas Kincade style golden light is pouring out of every door as our hearts throb with holiday sentiment". And then there's the other message... if you live in the 21st century, you are a cold, heartless failure. You owe it to your family to compensate by blowing a tremendous amount of cash. If you don't buy your kids $300 in iphone apps, you're a bad parent".

        • 10 votes
        Reply#19 - Fri Nov 23, 2012 4:18 PM EST

        Years ago Christmas music would go on the radio 2 weeks before Christmas. This is the perfect time for it. You hear it just enough to enjoy it without it being drawn out. I myself love Christmas and the spirit of Christmas. Its a happy time for most people which is the reason for the Christmas lights and other Christmas sights. You can't even enjoy Halloween or Thanksgiving without seeing Christmas stuff up in the malls in October/Novemeber. Let every season/holiday have it time. It will be more enjoyable that way.

        • 8 votes
        Reply#20 - Fri Nov 23, 2012 4:59 PM EST

        Oh God, I really despise Madonna channeling Angelica of Rugrats to sing "Santa Baby". Give me Eartha Kitt's version any day!

        • 7 votes
        Reply#21 - Fri Nov 23, 2012 5:00 PM EST

        Happy Retailers Day

        • 7 votes
        Reply#22 - Fri Nov 23, 2012 5:10 PM EST

        As people get all warm 'n fuzzy about their family 'traditions' and how many, when they hear this music think all the happy thoughts of holidays past.....see now there's the rub. I'm 50 and not so old that the b.s. over commercialization of christmas has been a sore reminder of the absolute ridiculousness of having to 'keep up with the Jones's and my mom barking orders on putting up all her decorations, including the outside of the house, etc. I'm bitter towards my mom because it wasn't at all about 'being family' and together. It was all about how she appeared to the neighborhood. Then as I grew older, got my own family, etc., and we would go there for thanksgiving, she wanted all the christmas decorations brought out and playing her classic christmas tunes right after the turkey, and we were all supposed to be so 'happy'. I'm tired of my family 'traditions.' For the past 5 years, our kids have grown and left the nest and are busy building their own families and my wife, dog and I have been very content staying home and enjoying our own, private holidays. We avoid the commercial shopping and crowds like the plague and bought ourselves a nice, wooded acreage in the country. Sure, we get into 'the spirit,' but it's all natural. We hang a wreath on our front door with a simple red ribbon (made from pine trimmings from our own trees) and put out some strings of popcorn and hang in our cedar and pine trees to feed the birds. We don't put a tree in our house. We don't play those 'cutesy' holiday tunes. We prefer classical, old acoustic versions done nicely and bonus if no one is singing. My wife and I actually make our gifts for our family and friends. Last year we made them custom clocks. This year, my wife got to choose the projects and cool, custom 'log home birdhouses' are what we did. We haven't spent a dime on gifts since our kids were young. And they all grew up with very realistic thoughts towards the holidays. We were pretty good about teaching them that the 'virtues of giving and kindness' weren't just for a few days each winter--but qualities that should be held to heart all year round. And how just buying a gift to ease your conscience so you had 'something' to give someone for christmas was just a waste of money. Better to just make a hand made card - at least it was personal and there was true thought behind it.

        ~ May true Peace be all of Yours this holiday season!

        • 8 votes
        Reply#23 - Fri Nov 23, 2012 5:26 PM EST

        christymyass music...barf

        • 5 votes
        Reply#24 - Fri Nov 23, 2012 5:27 PM EST

        Ooooh, it's always refreshing to read a truly classy, intelligent comment!

        • 4 votes
        #24.1 - Fri Nov 23, 2012 6:58 PM EST

        Christmas is what you make it. I love the season. I love the lights. I love the music. I love the crowds. I love the decorations. And I haven't purchased a Christmas gift for anyone since 1998.

          Reply#25 - Fri Nov 23, 2012 5:33 PM EST

          You hit the nail on the head. Christmas...indeed , what YOU make of it. I love all types of Christmas music, well, not so much the very liberal interpretations (but, that's a matter of taste)...cute, solemn, traditional or new. Decorations, from ones my kids made (30 yrs ago), to wondrous lights, to my tree, color my soul during the season. OK not so much into crowds, but I do love the smiling eyes and crystal laughter as people greet each other...friend or stranger. And yes, I spend too much on presents. But if present giving were outlawed, the season would still be as special. Yet, I do believe gift GIVING can teach a fine lesson. The challenge is to teach to receive.

          I read in another post that it is 'insensitive' to subject 'non-christians' to holiday music. I am an agnostic...but I believe in the beauty of the season, I applaud those who believe in the "reason for the season', one HAS to spend that long in a store that it becomes annoying., (unless they work there and then I'm sure it's annoying to the most faithful proponent). Too much commercialism?? You betcha! But, no one has to partake. Make your own choices...make Christmas what you want it to be.

          • 4 votes
          #25.1 - Fri Nov 23, 2012 6:31 PM EST

          History will tell you that "The reason for the season" is an orgy of feasting and revelry to break up the misery and monotony of harsh winters. It began as a pagan holiday and, in my opinion, that's how it works best! Christians seized it, and now they want us to believe that's what it's all about. Bah! Humbug!

          PS - Jesus is just alright with me - but keep your damned nativity scene out of my public venues.

          • 9 votes
          #25.2 - Fri Nov 23, 2012 8:13 PM EST

          Daisy, history also tells us that as a Pagan holiday, it was also rooted in RELIGION. The feasting and revelry were directly tied to this fact. In the early Roman empire, the festival honored the God Saturn, and later on, during the reign of Aurelian, the festival shifted focus to the God Sol Invictus, who Aurelian had made the "chief" deity of Rome. You can bet that effigies and symbols of Deus Sol Invictus were seen in "public venues", despite there having been MANY religions present in the empire at that time. Feasting and celebrating are wonderful, but it's wrong to try to divorce those things from ancient spiritual aspects that various peoples have connected to the winter season over the centuries, whether pre or post Christian. Christmas has religious/spiritual roots and so does Saturnalia, the Solstice, etc.

          • 2 votes
          #25.3 - Mon Nov 26, 2012 7:16 AM EST
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