Creed Bratton once said, “I’m a pretty normal guy, I do one weird thing.”
My birthday is the same as Carrie Fisher‘s, sometime in mid-October. Growing up, I never got to do the fun, aquatic-themed birthdays like my friends who had Raging Waters parties in June, because it was always too damn cold in Eastern Washington in autumn, during my birthday.
Naturally, when I went to college in L.A., we went to the beach at San Diego for my birthday and got lip rings. In order to be a California college student, you must have a lip ring, long hair, a longboard, and a popped collar, and in the autumn of 2005, I was at the apex of my douchebaggery.
As I turned 21, then 22, then left college, then had less and less friends nearby to celebrate the day when I burst forth from the womb, I found that birthdays are not quite the party that they were in college. Instead, my wife gives me a poster reading “Everything I learned in life I learned from Star Wars” to accompany my Obi-Wan bobble head. While these gifts would have been appropriate in college, they feel more substantial now. In college, everything feels temperate; like I don’t expect the gifts to last past graduation. I can’t recall a single birthday gift that I received in college, save for the electric razor that my parents gave to me in 2003.
With each passing year, I feel that my birthday becomes less and less a big deal. As my age increases, my birthday becomes less and less important, as you can see here in Figure A:
By the time I’m 3, birthdays are rapidly beginning to lose their appeal. By 50, it’s just another Tuesday between Labor Day and Thanksgiving.
Naturally, I have to find ways to make my birthdays more exciting. In the latter half of college, I began to use October 21st as the marker to begin the most sacred of seasons: Christmas music.
Whoa! Don’t be so harsh now, dear reader! Baby Jesus can never have enough lauding, so what’s the harm in starting the season off with a few old school renditions of “Here We Go A-wassailing” before mid-terms come out?
This year, my plan to welcome a high [Yule]tide was kicked up a notch with the onset of a record player birthday gift from my parents. You better believe I hooked that baby up and the first wax I spun was this guy:
Whatever cares I had before the delightful crackling of LP reached my ears melted away with the first lines of “Slumber Song of the Infant Jesus”. Look at him; how can you not be put into a better mood? Aside from the obvious satisfaction I get from a guy who sings bass who can make it in the music biz, he was also signed to Capitol Records! The folks at Capitol got something right, before they went downhill in the next 30 years and started to give record deals to guys like Varsity Fanclub and Dem Franchize Boyz.
If I’m to be honest for a moment, Christmas music for takes me back to home. It makes me think of our house in Valleyford with vaulted ceilings and huge windows, of a wood-burning fireplace and a 20-foot Douglas Fir making the whole top floor smell like the forest. Whenever I hear the voice of Karen Carpenter, I can close my eyes and see myself, 11 years old and laying on the thick carpet at dusk, reading Calvin and Hobbes and somehow knowing that I have nothing — absolutely nothing — to worry me. When I think of peace, I think of Christmas.
Sing out, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Sing We Now of Christmas.