It’s my Christmas, and I’ll Whine if I Want to



This falls under the category “bellyaching.” But if you can slog through the self-pity, you might find a joke at the end.

I have an average of 37 tasks to complete with student essays (grading, checking, averaging grades, etc.) every day for the next five, and here I am writing this nonsense. Even worse. I took the time to make the recording attached here. I can’t help myself. I wish I could. But, you know if you’ve ever read my blog before (same old, same old) my little compulsion to write, and it has to be satisfied before I can do much of anything else except drink coffee.

If I don’t do those 37 tasks (or more) every day, the SMU Registrar and I are likely to be having conversations on Christmas Day. That thought prompted my singing to myself, “Have yourself a merry little Christmas.”

Have yourself a Merry little Christmas, Let your heart be light;
From now on your troubles will be out of sight.
Have yourself a Merry little Christmas, Make the Yuletide gay;
From now on your troubles will be far away.

I won’t have any trouble making the Yuletide gay, of course. And, in fact I will have a Merry little Christmas. My brother, sister-in-law, sister, and I will be together—just the four of us—without a failing loved one to care for or anyone to move or, well, ANYTHING to do but be together.

A commonplace we all know is that depressed people are massively depressed around Christmas. I’m not yet, but I could be. I can’t drive. I have this enormous ridiculous sling on my arm—except when I take it off, as I have at the moment (I’m wearing the little take-a-shower sling; don’t worry, I’m crazy but not stupid). I have work that piled up starting when I was out of class for a week instead of one day because the surgery was suddenly fixing the biceps tendon in my shoulder not a little tear in the cuff.

You may rememberthe concert Carol Burnett and Beverly Sills gave at Met together a long time ago. Someone asked Beverly Sills if she thought she was “slumming” by doing comedy sketches and singing with Carol Burnett. She said of course she was—but not because the music wasn’t worthy of her. No—because she was not in the same comedic league as Carol Burnett and didn’t really belong on the stage with her.

Most of my friends, I think, see me as a serious music snob. A couple of years ago, my brother, sister-in-law, sister, and I were

I DO have a sense of humor.

I DO have a sense of humor.

visiting Dad in the extended care facility where he lived. There was a piano in the “common room,” and I sat down to play. I played a few hymns, and a little crowd gathered. I tried to stop, and they wanted more. A book of show tunes happened to be on the bench, so I began playing show tunes. I went on longer than I should have, but the old folks were eating it up, and who am I to pass up an audience?

When I finally stopped, my brother and sister each told me they had never heard me sit at the piano and have fun. Whoa!!!! Where have they been all my life? Sacramento and Baton Rouge, I guess.

I’m like Beverly Sills. How’s that for ego? Of course, I mean I’m not very good at playing the piano and having fun. What PhD in organ is?

Here’s the point. When I play “serious” organ music, I try to do it just right. You know, professionalism and all that nonsense. I am not a natural performer. Ask any of my real-organist friends. So when I’m having fun, no one quite knows what to do about it. I recorded “The Chipmunk Song” and posted it on Facebook. You should have read the comments about how wonderful it was that I could (apparently for once in my life) have fun.

I hope at least a few people who read this have figured out by this time that I’m having fun. Oh, yes, it’s dead serious, too. I am stressed out almost to the breaking point. But I also think it’s pretty funny. (Those of you who are not Bipolar really can’t imagine, I suppose, how something can be eating my lunch and making me laugh at the same time.)

I’ve recorded “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” on the mechanical action (church) pipe organ in my living room. It sounds (if we are honest about it) pretty silly. It certainly does not show off Steuart Goodwin’s organ-building in the best light. But then I’m not sure anything I could play would do that.

So here I am, alone in my apartment (where I have been alone for most of three days) trying to catch up on work I should have finished days ago, but writing this because I can’t stop. And I recorded (inappropriately) one of the great songs of all time—I’ll write about irony in music someday. And my experience teaches me that hardly anyone will know how much of this is a joke and how much isn’t. Except me and the Chipmunks.

Merry Christmas, all!

About Harold Knight
Retired English prof, SMU. Old man. Musician. Passionate about justice, equality, freedom. Therefore, I am a fervent supporter of and advocate for the Palestinian People as they struggle to survive genocide. That also means, of course, I have no use for US 45.

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