I own 49 CDs of holiday music. For you young people, a CD is what music was recorded on prior to iTunes and MP3s.
I know I have that many because every holiday season I have to remove 49 CDs from my CD player that holds 300 discs. I put in the holiday music and let her rip for the season.
By my calculation, that works out to 780 some-odd songs that average three and a half minutes each.
So I have about two days' worth of continuous holiday music. As much as I love them they eventually start driving me nuts.
Further investigation suggests that there are about 85 common holiday songs.
The problem is that only about 16 of those songs are the ones that everybody knows, so those are the songs that are on every CD.
After two days of running through my entire collection I figure I have heard "Jingle Bells" sung by every artist from Bing Crosby to Mariah Carey. Same thing goes for "White Christmas" all the way to "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus." By the way, the Lawrence Welk version of that song is particularly annoying. I am just saying.
I will be pulling my CDs out in a couple of days to return them to their storage case until next season. I will extend my investigation of the songs to determine just how many contain exactly the same titles. Offhand, I think almost all of them contain the same dozen or so songs. No wonder my brain is fried by the time New Year's gets here.
When you add that to the fact that every store plays the same exact songs as background shopping music and every radio station plays the exact same thing, you can start to understand why the holidays become mental overload for virtually everyone.
No one listens to the same 16 songs over and over during the rest of the year.
My jazz band has almost 45 songs in our repertoire for just one concert. Yet during the holidays we all go through this audio torture listening to the same 16 songs for a month. Forget waterboarding. If you want a terrorist to talk play "Deck the Halls" 9,000 times. He will talk.
It is not that I dislike any of the songs. When I first hear them each season they tug on my heart strings just as they have for decades. After a few weeks my heart gets tired of the struggle. My ear drums and brain become numb. The only thing worse is the 25 days of repeated holiday TV specials dating back to Burl Ives singing "Frosty the Snowman" while a Bakelite snowman is time lapsed over a baking powder wonderland.
My brain tunes it all out because, in its opinion, mental survival has become a true concern.
Various artists have tried for decades to come up with new holiday songs and a handful have been successful.
Still they sing the old faithfuls on their albums too because no one will buy just the one new song. So I hear all the traditional songs yet again.
Why is this so hard? There must be a couple of million songs about love and a few thousand about dogs and pick-ups. What is so hard about making new holiday songs? Maybe it is because by Dec. 1 everyone's brain is already on auto pilot.
There is just no other way to survive until the day after New Year's.