Sunday, November 29, 2009

Fairytale of New York

Thanksgiving is over and with the end of that comes the advent of Christmas. This is the busiest shopping weekend of the year when seemingly everyone wakes up at 3 am on Friday morning and runs around like idiots to buy, buy, BUY things that they think are going to make the people in their life that they love content. As such...

I'm listening to Dustin Kensrue's interpretation of one of the few Christmas songs that I actually like. The song is called "Fairytale of New York" and was originally written and performed by The Pogues on their record If I Should Fall from Grace with God. If you've never familiarized yourself with this song, I'd recommend that you'd hop on over here and watch the video.

It's not like most other Christmas songs you're ever likely to hear.

For some reason, since I first heard this song years ago, it has always resonated with me. I don't really relate physically to the protagonist of the song: he's an alcoholic and is sleeping off night of binge drinking in a New York City drunk tank. I'd like to think the song is an inner monologue of all the things that had gone wrong in his life and the one Christmas where things went right. I humbly ask all of you for your forgiveness for introducing schmaltz into my blog. I further humbly ask all of my Jewish friends for forgiveness for the use of the word "schmaltz". But, as we all know, there ain't no goin' back.

And I think that's what gets me. I know there's no goin' back. No matter how much I'd like, I'm not going to be able to bring my grandfathers back for just one more Christmas. I'm not going to get that feeling back of being 9 again and getting a Game Boy from Santa. I'm not going to be able to have the one woman who said she loved me (and didn't have to do so legally) tell me that she still does. I'm not going to get the feeling of true giving of delivering toys for Toys for Tots for the first time back when I was in high school. All of these things make me wistful for days gone by. Good to get that out of the way at 29.

But, like the honesty and openness of "Fairytale of New York", I'd like to think that there's the most silver of linings in the most gray of clouds. I'm ever the romantic and I think that's what I like most about this song. That at least the protagonist was able to say "At least I did." At least I did... I rather like that. He's at least got the balls to realize that he's spending what may very well be his last Christmas alone and drunk and in what may very well be the worst place one could spend a Christmas Eve... but that he has had the privilege of being loved at least once. And that, as a romantic, is not something to be taken lightly. Naive? Idealistic? Sure... but I've been called worse.

There's an underlying hope in this song that wasn't apparent to me the first several times I heard it. It was something that had to brood (and it did so in spades) for a while before I think I developed an interpretation of the song. It's not just about Christmas - although that is a convenient vehicle for it - it's that things could always be worse. That's backhanded compliment at best.

So our protagonist of this song is clearly on his last Christmas. He's not going to, as the song puts it "see another one". But he's content. And what greater gift... to be content on Christmas. I don't really want or need anything for Christmas this year (I mean, if you've already bought me a backpack for hiking across Europe next fall, by all means, I'll gladly take it). I don't want things. I want experiences.

"So... Happy Christmas... I love you, baby."

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