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seasonal music causing blue christmas for some
more ap news the way i wish it could be
by robert a. melos

“He was such a nice guy. I never would’ve imagined him snapping like he did,” Said Marvin Kleinbaum of his friend and shopping mall co-worker, Cletus Cole. “He was always pretty levelheaded. Not at all like the average nut you read about in the newspaper that snaps and goes on a killing spree.”

Sentiments like Mr. Kleinbaum’s are being repeated across the country this holiday season, as there have been a record number of individuals who’ve simply snapped while at work. What makes this all the more unusual is that 99.99% of those individuals all work in shopping malls.

“It’s Seasonal Music Disorder,” states Dr. Harold Golden, a psychiatrist in Boise Idaho who claims to have dealt with this problem in the past. “It usually doesn’t hit this early in the season, but this year has been particularly hard with the record number of radio stations playing nothing but seasonal music since the day after Thanksgiving. People with a low tolerance for seasonal music, such lighthearted songs as Frosty The Snowman, or Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer, are especially at risk of a severe breakdown when inundated with enforced holiday spirit.”

While it’s true that people have the ability to turn off their car and home radios, many seldom do, according to Newsweek polls of holiday music listeners. When asked if they listened to holiday music in the car on their way to and from work, an overwhelming 76% said they leave their car radios on at all times and are only subconsciously listening to the music. 20% only listen to talk radio, and 4% are undecided.

“It was awful,” said Eileen M. Freebise, outside the Paramus Mall. “All I asked for was some green wrapping paper, and suddenly the lady behind the counter was slashing away at me with scissors and throwing empty tape dispensers at me.”

“I was frightened for my life,” Mrs. Alma Rand said, of her attack at the Pin Oaks Mall in Butte Montana. “I worked in the same cosmetics department was Betty Lou Kaminski for five months, and she seemed okay. I mean I didn’t socialize with her because she was only the perfume spritzer, and us cosmetologists never really mingled with the perfume people, but I never imagined she would go bonkers.”

“I don’t exactly know what happened,” said Betty Lou Kaminski, from her restrained position in a bed in the local psychiatric ward. This reporter managed to gain access for a brief interview, and was shocked to learn Doctor Golden’s findings to be completely accurate. “I remember thinking to myself, ‘if I hear Holly Jolly Christmas one more time today, I’ll just crack up.’ and the next thing I knew I was standing on the perfume counter throwing knock-off bottles Chanel No.5 at shoppers and screaming the lyrics to Holly Jolly Christmas as the song played on the loud speaker system.”

Betty Lou Kaminski is not alone. There are seven other cases of SMD In her psych ward, and hundreds more reported throughout the country.

“Seasonal Music Disorder only effects a small percentage of the population,” said Dr. Golden. “I first discovered it in my own family when my wife, an SMD sufferer, began to display abnormal reactions to Bing Crosby’s voice. She would get a slight twitch in her left eye, and it would get worse as the holidays approached and there was an increase of airplay for seasonal music.”

Dr. Golden continued, “for some people it’s just seasonal music in general, but most of the SMD sufferers have a particular song that triggers the violent reactions. Holly Jolly Christmas is among the top five most violently reacted to songs of the season. Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree, Jingle Bell Rock, Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer, and Run, Run Rudolph are the worst for triggering violent reactions during the holiday season.”

“We Are The World still holds the record for the most violent reactions to any holiday song ever released,” Dr. Golden explained, “but the reaction usually only occurs once the song reaches the Michael Jackson solo.”

So what can be done about SMD?

“Many of my colleagues feel that banning all seasonal music, with the exception of Adam Sandler’s Hanukah Song, would be reasonable, but such a drastic measure would never be accepted by the masses,” said Dr. Golden. “Too many of the songs are so beloved that they spark an equal reaction of protectiveness from seasonal music lovers. It just would not be possible to ban seasonal music.”

“Instead we are working on pharmaceutical therapy including large doses of Prozac and Xanax for severe SMD sufferers,” Dr. Golden said. “While it isn’t a long term cure, it does seem to help many of the SMD sufferers and also many shopping mall salesclerks in general.”

So until such time as there is a permanent cure for SMD, those of us who do not suffer from this extremely debilitating disorder must remain sympathetic toward those around us who suddenly flip out in the department stores and began attacking everyone in sight. The best thing for this holiday season is to be happy, and merry and cautious.


Robert is the author of the novels Cool Mint Blue, Melba Ridge, and the recently released The Adventures of Homosexual Man and Lesbian Lad; and the creator of the on-line comix Impure Thoughts found at his web site Inside R.A. Melos, as well as having been an on-line staff writer for QBliss where he had a monthly humor column, Maybe A Yip, Maybe A Yap. In his non-writing time, when he's not studying the metaphysical or creating a tarot deck, he sells real estate in Middlesex County New Jersey, hangs out with his dog Zeus, and spends time at the Pride Center of New Jersey in Highland Park, NJ, where he is on the Board of Trustees.

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tracey kelley
12.15.04 @ 1:01a

I totally relate to this.
Everytime I hear Madonna's version of "Santa Baby" or the Beach Boys "Little Saint Nick" ("CHRISTMAS COMES THIS TIME EACH YEAR"), I could smack the Salvation Army volunteer bell ringer.

robert melos
12.15.04 @ 10:12p

It just seems that this year the radio stations and shopping malls have gone out of their way to play nothing but holiday music 24/7.

Actually I should say Christian holiday music. I didn't hear Adam Sandler's Chanukah Song once this season. They've dredged up more versions of Jingle Bell Rock and Silver Bells, and Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree than I thought could exist.

I don't mind the 24 hours of holiday music the night before and all day Christmas Day, but the 30 days of holiday music is a bit much.

I honestly think it has to do with what so many people refer to as the healing process. I think this ties into 9/11. People who were effected more directly by 9/11 are more ready this year to celebrate the holidays.

I'm just not big on holiday music.

juli mccarthy
12.15.04 @ 10:21p

As someone who LOVES Christmas music, I have to tell you, I'm sick of the crap I keep hearing in stores, too. We have a "light rock" station here that has been playing Christmas music 24/7 since Thanksgiving day. I do not listen to it. But I have about 200 Christmas MP3s and when I'm in the mood, I'll play them all.

jeff wilder
12.15.04 @ 11:35p

A local borders bookstire that I frequent has been playing Christmas music since before Thanksgiving. Although they do break up the traditional Christmas song blocks with numbers like Joni Mitchell's "River" and "Sarah McLachlan's cover of Gordon Lightfoot's "Song For A Winter's Night".

robert melos
12.15.04 @ 11:55p

It started here with the local station going 24/7 Christmas music the day after Thanksgiving, then by Dec. 5th most of the other stations in the area were taking on the trend. We have a couple hard rock stations that haven't switched to all holiday music yet. I was resorting to cds in the car. I do admit, I have the Heat Miser and Cold Miser songs as wav files, and I listen to them. I like the less traditional songs, like So This Is Christmas (which I grew up knowing as the song for the Jamacian tourist board), and Christmas Rap by the Waitresses. Please Come Home For Christmas, by the Eagles is also a favorite.

I'm not big on any version of Santa Baby, or on Babs version of Jingle Bells. In the local diners and eateries I've heard some very obscure and some very old versions of holiday songs. Lots of 40s and 50s and 60s versions from Doris Day, Rosemary Clooney, Dean Martin. I know one of the diners has satellite radio, so I'm guessing they have an all Christmas music station.

I just think it's overkill to go 24/7 for 30 days straight. Id like a little break. Maybe some Springsteen, other than his version of Here Comes Santa Claus. I could stand some Hungry Heart.

tracey kelley
12.16.04 @ 9:21a

I like to pick and choose my Christmas music - a little Rat Pack, a little Take 6, some Nat King Cole, a little Manheim. I wrapped gifts the other night and had fun listening to MY Christmas music.

But on the disc that features Bob and Doug's "12 Days" is the Beach Boys' song. I listen to it once, make sure it still sucks, retch, then avoid it for another 360 days.

lisa r
12.16.04 @ 8:59p

I used to love Christmas music. Now I tolerate it. I do not go out of my way to play it, although I will probably put my recording of The Nutcracker Suite on while I decorate the tree and wrap presents this weekend. I can listen to Def Leppard or Travis Tritt tapes and CD's ad infinitum, but if I hear anything other than "12 Redneck Days of Christmas" or "Granda Got Run Over by a Reindeer" more than 3 times*, my eyes glaze over and I get a twitch. There's just no sense in starting the Christmas season 2 months before the first Sunday in Advent. There's a reason it's called Christmas, and it has nothing to do with the business community's worship of the almighty dollar.

*traditional religious carols not included


robert melos
12.17.04 @ 12:11a

I admit to liking Stevie Nicks version of Silent Night, but even the religious stuff is getting overplayed in a lot of eateries and stores. Everytime I hear What Child Is This? I just keep thinking, Greensleeves!

jeff wilder
12.17.04 @ 9:16p

For the record, the greatest version of 12 Days Of Christmas is Allan Sherman's.

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me/A Japanese transistor radio

juli mccarthy
12.19.04 @ 11:58p

I positively detest Stevie's Silent Night. And generally I think she's OK, but her version of that song grates on me. And my favorite version of Twelve Days is the Muppets' - gotta love Miss Piggy belting out that "FIVE GOLDEN RINGS...BAH DUM BUM!"

I have about 14 versions of O Holy Night - I don't seem to tire of that one - and I listen to an awful lot of Trans-Siberian Orchestra too.

robert melos
12.20.04 @ 2:17a

I think I like the Stevie Nicks version because I'm not much for traditional religious music. I grew up hearing that song every Christmas Eve in the Methodist church I used to attend.

I also like a version of It Came Upon A Midnight Clear that was used at the end of the film A Midnight Clear (cira late 80s- early 90s). I think it too is Stevie Nicks, but I'm not sure.

I do like the parody songs such as, Ladies Underware and the Crypt Keeper's Christmas CD.

jeff wilder
12.29.04 @ 9:40p

And like Tracey I detest "Little St Nick" although I didn't realize it until this year when after hearing it for the 1000th time I was ready to whup whoever put it on.

robert melos
12.29.04 @ 10:28p

Yeah, that "run, run reindeer" line is annoying. At least the seasonal music seems to have stopped for now. Although I have been in a restaurant today that was still playing holiday music. That Wham Christmas song, Last Christmas, was blasting away. Maybe this is the last of it. I keep hoping.

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