Al Batt: Nothing says Christmas like lip lilac and a fruitcake

Published 8:45 pm Tuesday, December 20, 2022

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Tales from Exit 22 by Al Batt

Lip lilac, visage violet or mug holly.

Al Batt

My mother hung mistletoe in the doorways.

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I became a little boy avoiding females frequenting our domicile.

Now I try to avoid holiday songs that can make the world wince. Listening to Christmas music can be dangerous, don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise.

Music filled the air of the festive and shiny store. Playing music in the background boosts a store’s business by welcoming customers and making them feel comfortable enough to spend buckets of money. Studies found a positive impact on a store’s bottom line when softer, calmer music played. Loud and fast music caused shoppers to leave the store sooner.

My musical opinion is, on my best day, worth 61.7% of yours. We don’t all like the same music. Every song has an audience, but there is musical turbulence for passengers on spaceship Earth.

It’s that time of the year when our efforts go into making Mariah Carey even richer. The music playing loudly was her “All I Want For Christmas Is You.” Some singers like to hang their clothes on the line. It’s not my favorite song and doesn’t come close to the joy of finding a pickle ornament on the Christmas tree. The song goes into heavy rotation every year. I’ve nothing against Mariah Carey, but The Economist wrote she made $60 million from it between 1996 and 2016. That should keep her in gas money. It isn’t particularly Christmassy and she is lying to me. She doesn’t want me for Christmas. Just to be hypocritical, as each of us is, I enjoy Eartha Kitt’s not particularly Christmassy “Santa Baby,” but not Madonna’s rendition or Michael Buble’s attempt.

Am I irritated or envious? I’m not a talented singer. I try to make up for that by being loud. A group of us got together to go Christmas caroling door-to-door each year. It was mostly fun, but there were sad moments. A man died while we sang. The family told me it was cancer, not my off-key singing, that killed my friend, but I have to wonder.

One of my Christmas traditions is ringing the bells for the Salvation Army. I visited with folks while I rang the bells and asked them what their favorite and least favorite Christmas songs were. There were varied favorites. “Little Drummer Boy” was the least favorite song they wanted hitting their eardrums. Its ubiquitousness plagues listeners, although I didn’t hear it once during the few hours I rang bells that day. “Christmas Shoes” came in second. “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” by The Jackson 5, and “Please Daddy (Don’t Get Drunk This Christmas)” by John Denver tied for third. Someone said, “Ragin’ Cajun Redneck Christmas” sounded like fingernails being dragged across a chalkboard.

There are many goofy holiday songs. I enjoy them one day and not the next. People appreciate their cleverness and their awfulness. Dogs barking, cats meowing, “Dominick the Donkey,” “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas,” “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer,” “All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth,” “The Chipmunk Song,” “What Can You Get a Wookie for Christmas (When He Already Owns a Comb),” and songs about fruitcake. The right number of times to hear some songs is fewer. Once can be more than enough for others. If any of these songs stick in your head, you’re welcome. An earworm is a haunting tune, song or melody that keeps repeating in one’s mind. Merry earworm.

I hope that each Christmas song you hear is your favorite and the music brings you much joy, few winces and no earworms. Keep listening. Music is like a tube of toothpaste, you can always squeeze it and find a little more.

Fruitcake is one of my favorite Christmas foods. For those who wonder how I can eat fruitcake, it’s simple. I put a piece of fruitcake into my mouth. Then I chew it before swallowing. I repeat as necessary.

Merry Christmas to all of you fruitcake lovers. And the same to those who care not for fruitcake.

I’ve got to go now and listen to “Joy to the World” while wrapping fruitcakes as gifts and holding mistletoe over my wife’s head.

Al Batt’s column appears in the Tribune every Wednesday.