"Christmas Is For Mugs" /
Instead of a glitter-spangled scene with doors for every day of December, how about a daily treat from my iTunes holiday playlist?
Trust my man Graham Parker to keep holiday spirits from getting too cloying. His 1994 EP Graham Parker's Christmas Cracker is definitely one of my unsentimental Yuletide go-to's. (See here for a bit of "Soul Christmas.") But you don't release a Christmas record if you really do hate the holiday, and snarky as GP's take may be, I've still gotta think he gets a kick out of it.
It's a great shaggy-dog story, as Graham does so well. Though he's in full Americana mode, he's shopping around modern-day London for a present that'll please his darling -- and yet everything goes disastrously awry. We've all been there, up against that December 24 deadline, panicking when gift after gift fails, and Christmas spirit is in woefully short supply.
That jaundiced chorus says it all: "Now everybody's talking about the kisses and the hugs / And all the little heartstrings that the festive season tugs / But all I see are lager louts, shoplifters and thugs / So fill mine up, 'cause Christmas is for mugs."
And yet . . . and yet . . and yet.
Last verse, in which brilliant wordsmith Graham flaunts not just four rhymes, but five: "Now all the crepe and tinsel is left lying on the floor / The wreath we hung up weeks ago is rotting on the door / And I'd like to punch the lights out of that crooked tree vendor / And if I saw St. Nick tonight there'd be a scene of gore / I'd throw a match into the fire and make the chimney roar." And not in a good way.
My take on this? Sure, it makes him mad -- because somewhere in there, he still wants for Christmas to be something special. Something magical. And when it isn't . . .
But what the hey. If nothing else, we'll fill our mugs (pun intended) and make do with what we can get out of the holiday season. Because here we are, in the scrum of real life, and we'll deal with it just fine. What really matters, of course, is the fact that he loves his partner and would love to get her a present that will make her happy. The world's working against him, but he's a guy who can go with the flow.
A real-world Christmas scenario -- I'm cool with that.