The holidays are swirling around us — parties, concerts, family traditions, but ordinary life goes on, too.
We still have to go to work and school, many days with no celebrating at all. But that doesn’t mean that other people aren’t in the middle of a holiday moment.
I never realized this more than when I went to the Big Box Store That Needs No More Advertising. On my list: toiletries, dry goods and a few household items that needed replenishing. Not one gift. Not one decoration. Not one thing related to any holiday event. My list was full of things designed to get us from today to tomorrow, fed and non-smelly. Ordinary shopping.
My most cherished work-at-home perk is that I can do my grocery shopping mid-week, mid-day when the shopping herd is fairly small.
Except at this time of year.
During the other 11 months I don’t encounter many people while parking or careening down any given aisle, and I typically don’t wait in a line to check out. This month? Different story.
Rare was the aisle with no other shoppers — and rarer was the considerate shopper who pulled their cart over to the side to allow others to pass. Given the contents, most of these people were gift purchasing (Right. You don’t look).
I just wanted to buy toilet paper and cereal but carts full of toys and electronics — and whatever that thing was — blocked my way! Was the middle of the aisle the best place for the cart handlers to calculate how many festive paper plates they needed?
It’s not just the stores where we get hung up with our ordinary while others are celebrating. One of my friends recently lamented her daily commute home. For her, “home” is very near the Plaza. While she was simply trying to get her typical evening going, she was stopped and stalled by those enjoying one of our fair city’s finest holiday attractions.
“Their holiday, my traffic jam,” is how she put it.
But during this month, our lives can’t be universally synced. We have to go to work and school, take care of our families, go shopping for food and toilet paper, even if tomorrow we swap places with the people who are taking some celebrating time.
So I offer this: Earworms. Brainworms? Songs-that-get-stuck-in-your-head-and-are-looped-over-and-over-again? Whatever we call them, they have another fancy name, Involuntary Musical Imagery, and a website, earwurm.com. The songs that get stuck in our brains usually are simple and repetitive.
And what songs are more simple and repetitive than Christmas songs?
One of the ways to unstick an earworm is to introduce a new simple and repetitive song. So, in theory, we can be changing the stations in our head to suit the situations we find ourselves in. (Note: “In theory.”)
With this I offer these musical pairings to carry us through our traffic jams while everyone around us is holidaying:
Stuck in traffic? “Sleigh Ride” (I prefer the Ella Fitzgerald version).
Waiting in a long line at a cash register? “Santa Baby.”
Driving down your street, trying to get home but behind a very slow car full of house-light gawkers? “Deck the Halls.”
Anytime you see a minivan tricked-out to look like a reindeer. “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.”
Attempting a quick run into the home improvement store, but slowed by all those people buying trees? “O Tannenbaum.”
And my personal favorite for any annoying situation: “Carol of the Bells.” Just Da Da Dumming it seems to put me in a more charitable mood.
Or shift your annoyance by creating your own custom pairings.
For more of Susan Vollenweider’s writing, go to thehistorychicks.com.