Here’s the thing: I want to like Christmas. I wish the holiday season filled me with glee and prompted me to say hello to friends I know as well as everyone I meet. Largely, the holidays kind of bum me out. Don’t get me wrong, I love the food and the cold air and the lights, but there’s also something really melancholic about this time of the year too. I don’t know whether it’s the fact that I’m not little anymore and so there’s less *magic* in the air, or that familial complexities seem to be under a microscope during this season—it’s probably a combination of both.
If you’re anything like me, and you find the holidays a little underwhelming, take comfort in the knowledge that there are a lot of non-peppy Christmas tunes out there to accompany your feels. So, grab your mug of hot cocoa and let’s get this party started (and by ‘party,’ I mean, staring out your window and sighing)!
1. “Christmas Time Is Here”—Vince Guaraldi Trio
This is a classic. The Peanuts gave us the epitome of the sad Christmas song with “Christmas Time Is Here.” It’s got the strange combination of jazz mixed with children’s vocals that works so well to create a sentimental sound. This is a great song for those times when you’re ice skating, but you’re not trying to have that much fun.
2. “I’ll Be Home For Christmas”—Bing Crosby
Fun Fact: this song was banned on BBC radio when it debuted in 1943 because officials thought it would be too depressing to soldiers fighting overseas. While BBC’s censorship was probably a little extreme, they kind of had a point. “I’ll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams,” doesn’t exactly evoke holiday cheer.
3. “All Alone On Christmas”—Slow Club
If you haven’t listened to Slow Club’s Christmas Thanks For Nothing EP then you are missing out on some gloriously depressing Christmas songs. “All Alone On Christmas” is the perfect tune for lonesome walks through lit-up neighborhoods. Maybe you spy a couple sweetly kissing underneath some mistletoe, but hey, at least you have your cat!
4. “Christmas Is In The Air”—The Tuts
The Tuts deliver a bummer Christmas song you can dance to. “Christmas Is In The Air” appeared on Kate Nash’s Christmas EP last year, and this song is pretty fun. It’s got all the charm of a twee girl-band but with lyrics like, “Mom and Dad are always fighting underneath the Christmas lighting, all I want for Christmas is a good time.” Don’t we all? *sips eggnog while gazing emptily at a Christmas tree*
5. “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”—Judy Garland
This. Song. It is the saddest Christmas song I’ve ever heard, but it’s also my favorite Christmas song. There’s something so nostalgic in the fuzziness of the recording, and Judy Garland handles the vocals perfectly. Other artists after her have tried to really overdo it (Looking at you, Barbra Streisand). This song is so simple, and yet it conveys all of the hardship and hope of the holiday season.
The holidays can be tough. If you find that holly and tinsel aren’t enough to lift your spirits, steel yourself. I wish I could give y’all a collective hug and then knit you all cozy sweaters—even though I don’t know how to knit. In any case, I hope these songs can keep you company, and if things get too heavy, here’s this to balance it out: