December 10, 2003

Rocking Around the Vacuum Cleaner


Sorry I didn't post yesterday, at first I was a bit skitsy and depressed in the morning and then I had therapy, which made me further depressed. Not only did I get to do some Oprah moments and talk about my childhood, but my cool therapist shed some light on my dwindling relationship with Partner Unit and actually got me to understand a few things. This depressed me further since I know I will likely have to give up my very cool therapist, as I have only had job hits from the UK.

Then I had to take Ed the Evil One to the vet for his rabies vaccination, and by the time I got home I had enough time to find out our lousy modem had broken (which you see is now fixed), talk to Best Friend and find out his marriage is on the rocks, too, get into a helluva argument with Partner Unit, and have a depressing round of mails between Mr. Y in which it is clear that I am not helping him feel better, before finally settling into bed in the misty haze of a sleeping tablet and getting the first full night's sleep in about a week.

It's fucknuts, and I have decided to not think about it today. Instead, let me tell you a little story.

When I was a kid we were always in a car headed somewhere, just my mother, sister, and I. When my mother and father were splitting up, when we had to visit ill grandparents, what have you, it seems like most of my childhood was spent looking out a passenger window. Speaks volumes, really.

My mother had a great way of entertaining my sister and I. We would listen to music from the 50's, and to the old classic radio shows in the pre-TV days on tape. Maybe you know the ones? We used to paticularly love listening to the radio show "The Shadow"-they were great, and to this day, I get a big kick out of hearing the words "The Shadow knows...."

Anyway, one Christmastime when we were young we were on a trip to somewhere (my guess is Kansas, but I can't be sure). We had listened to the tapes several times and were bored silly. So at a gas station pit stop, my Mom emerged from the Shell station with a tape in hand. This tape has become the foundation of all holidays with my mother, sister and I ever since.

That tape is "John Denver and the Muppets-A Christmas Together."

That's right.

Laugh if you must. I know I would.

That tape kept the three of us serenly occupied the rest of the journey. And then the next year, the tape got pulled out and we sang our heads off to the thing. And the next year. And the next. Until in no time, it just wasn't Christmas in our house without the smarmy sounds of John Denver, acompanied by some poorly singing Muppets. We absolutely loved that tape, and it never went unplayed at Christmas. Ever. When I left home, I made a copy of the tape and played it every Christmas, endlessly, to the extreme annoyance of any man that happened to be passing through my life at that moment.

Four years ago, just before I moved here, I was strolling through Target to pick up some last minute things I would need in Sweden (said products included a one pound bag of Twizzlers, some Christmas socks, and a supersize box of my favorite tampons). I was about to head to the checkout, when I saw it: John Denver and the Muppets-a Christmas Together...on CD!

I bought it immediately. I finally had my own copy. It would always be Christmas in my house, as long as I had that CD. Unbelievably, this was the second time Target had come through for me (I think I could find my salvation in that store, if only I knew what aisle to look for it in).

So my CD gets played every year. Repeatedly. And it steps on every last fucking nerve of Partner Unit's, but that CD is Christmas to me. Now, I'm not religious, I don't care about things like that, but whenever I play that music I am whisked back to memories of being with my mother and sister, and always headed someplace better than the one we left behind.

But this year my depression had me resolve: no Christmas. There isn't a single decoration in our house (the only house on the block without), and there won't be, either. No lights. No tree. And my John Denver and the Muppets CD will remain in said cabinet. I am not interested. There will be no Christmas here.

But last night as I sat in front of the TV, feeling very small and alone after my Partner Unit fight and my inability to be any remote kind of comfort to Mr. Y, I realized that I am just punishing myself, when perhaps this year I have been punished enough. So I pulled out the CD.

Everyone has their holiday traditions, whether it is Christmas, Hannukah, or another form of celebration. We all have a way of celebrating something at the end of the year, be it on the 25th, the 1st, whatever. And this CD is the very essence of my Christmas spirit. This is my tradition. And I will only be letting myself down to not go for it. Stupid, really-it's just a CD. But it's also a source of regular comfort that I have known most of my life.

So now, if you will excuse me, I am going to blast that puppy at top speed. I am going to vacuum the house (either naked, or wearing the one-piece Winnie-the-Pooh pajamas I have been wearing. I am just so sexy.), singing at the top of my lungs, and I am going to party with the dead country singer and his Muppets chorus.

Christmas will come whether I want it to or not, and at least I can feel like I am not alone for it. I have a CD full of folks that have made my Christmas journies with me.


Posted by Everydaystranger at December 10, 2003 08:39 AM | TrackBack

Reality is not affected by our apprehension of it.

Posted by: Reddy Lokesh at January 26, 2004 07:45 AM

OK, you guys did it. I shall not be able to find some rest before I haven't hunted down a copy of the John Denver and the Muppets Christmas CD, or at least listened to the snippets on Amazon. Muppets and Fraggles make up a vast portion of my fondest childhood TV memories...

Posted by: Gudy at December 11, 2003 12:43 PM

I forgot about "A Christmas Story"! Must watch that. And "Scrooged". I love Carol Kane's fucked up fairy.

Paul, your comment was beautiful.

Posted by: Helen at December 11, 2003 08:05 AM

OMG, the Muppets...hello childhood memories :-) The Muppets remind me of those days when my only concern was what I was going to do when I ate the last cup of pudding...not when I ran out of beer.


Posted by: Rob at December 11, 2003 05:39 AM

Alas, dear Helen, I cannot rock out the Muppets. Unlike you I didn't acquire them on CD. They and the Bluegrass Country Christmas (and isn't that a bit redundant? what bluegrass isn't country?) languish in vinyl with nary a record player in sight. Hey, maybe this would be a good way to spend my Tidings earnings!

Kandy - A Christmas Story has forever been tainted for me. Michele grinched it. Feh.

Posted by: Jim at December 11, 2003 03:43 AM

What evil lurks in the shadows....

Christmas will be hear and gone before u know it.

Posted by: Drew at December 11, 2003 02:39 AM

The muppets always bring good memories for me too. My parents bought me & my sister the 8-track one year and quickly regreted it for we asked to listen to it all the time.
Watching A Christmas Story is something that is a comfort to me at Christmas time. Especially since my family is 2000 miles away.

Posted by: Kandy at December 10, 2003 10:48 PM

HI H, hi H people...
Iíve only been looking in for one week but I found I missed your post yesterday,
I did notice the subject of therapy popped up and again in one of the posts, seems a visit to the therapist depresses one twice, the next morning and when the bill arrives! (Tongue in cheek remark H, I realise therapy may of well saved your life) thou I once did date a high ranking Clinical psychiatrist who was a most unstable woman.
I suppose being English spilling your sole to a complete stranger is at most an alien concept at least at my class level.
Our best to have a strong cup of tea and get on with it reasoning may well explain one or two national quarks,
However I digress, it was Helens memories as a child travelling in the car staring out of the windows that did stare some of my ironically happier earliest memories I had as a child.
This was being able to travel in the back seat playing games with my sister or day dreaming while watching the shadows from the telegraph wires dancing at the side of the car in the evening summer haze to dose off not a care in the world, my farther and mother listening to the radio chatting, but all to quickly as I grow the security I had taken for granted was gone I could never fall asleep in the back again, I had become the driver

Posted by: paul at December 10, 2003 09:45 PM

John Denver & the Muppets Christmas *rocks*!!! I had it on vinyl, but it got broken in a move some years ago. I'm goin' to target to get the CD!

BTW, what did Mr. Y do in the series of emails to try to make you feel better? Hmmmm?

Posted by: jean at December 10, 2003 09:34 PM

Funny...I was at the therapist yesterday and likewise became a tad depressed. My very best wishes to you!

Posted by: Jay at December 10, 2003 07:01 PM

my christmas decorations are totally lame this year. they consist of a bar of christmas soap, that i got as a gift. but i think you have the right idea, no need to punish yourself, bring it what makes you smile. For me that'll be some Christmas lights around the porch door and that Christmas mix tape my step-dad made me when I went to college.

and yes, i hear you on the target thing. i could live there. if there's a heaven it might be like target. brightly colored, amazingly organized, everything you could ever possibly need and more...

Posted by: kat at December 10, 2003 06:11 PM

The muppets version of the 12 Days of Christmas is the best ever! How could it not cheer you up. I'm glad you decided to break it out and give Christmas a try this year, in spite of all your reasons you feel you wouldn't want to. I'm a firm believer in it all works out in the end, and you just have to let life take you where it's meant to take you. There's not a whole lot you can really control, so why not find your comfort and joy wherever you can. :O)

Posted by: JaxVenus at December 10, 2003 06:04 PM

My best girlfriend recently bought 15 DVDs of the Muppets Show. Rocks.So.Hard! The John Denver ep is one of the best ones, too - second only to Elton John. Nothing's cooler than Elton singing 'Bennie and the Jets' with Animal!

Posted by: Kaetchen at December 10, 2003 05:29 PM

That muppets CD is the jam! I have it on vinyl and the CD too. I hope you got the full version though - there are some cds that leave out three songs. Criminal! My favorite is "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" with Denver and Rowlf on piano. How can you beat that? You simply cannot.

-Mister O

PS - I worked in Stockholm last winter. I miss the meatballs and the government milk.

Posted by: Mister O at December 10, 2003 04:45 PM

I found your writing through Sedalina. Hang in there! You might not recognize it but you have a gigantic sense of humor that runs through your blog and lightens up even your heavy moments. Thank goodness you stopped punishing yourself and pulled out the John Denver and the Muppets Christmas CD.

Posted by: amelia at December 10, 2003 04:29 PM

I KNEW it! Salvation IS at Target! Thanks, Guinness.

And Jim and Amber, I say we crank up the volume on our Muppets and bother the neighbors, whom we will thoughtfully provide a copy of our music with.

Posted by: Helen at December 10, 2003 04:21 PM

I think most Target stores stock salvation near the electronics department, so you might want to check there.

Posted by: Guinness at December 10, 2003 04:11 PM

I still have my original LP of John Denver and the Muppets. Like you, it's an integral part of Christmas. No matter how crappy Christmas on a particular year is, I can throw that record on, and all of a sudden, I'm 8 years old, prepping myself for Santa's visit. It's one of the brighest and best memory generators.

Posted by: amber at December 10, 2003 04:11 PM

well glad you finally pulled out the CD, hope the vacuuming is all you've cracked it up to be, ENJOY.

Posted by: shortt at December 10, 2003 03:53 PM

I loved that album too. That and "A Bluegrass Country Christmas" were the foundation of my Christmas background noise as a kid. The Muppets was house music but the bluegrass album was very special - a present from my big sis.

A bit of a story how she ended up getting me a bluegrass album. She lived in Chicago, we were in Freehold (New Jersey). On the phone a couple of months before the holidays she asked what I was listening to lately. I told her Lynyrd Skynyrd. She wasn't sure what that was but had an inkling it was country. I said no, it's sort of like country rock bluegrass. She took that as meaning I liked country, rock and bluegrass. I despised country and ignored bluegrass, I just liked Skynyrd.

Anyway, when she came up for the holidays that year she gave me the Country Bluegrass Christmas album (vinyl, y'all - this was back in the day). She was so proud that she had found out my musical tastes and had bought the perfect album for me. Her face was just alight as she watched me open it. There was no way I could disappoint my big sis so I told her how awesome it was and how much I was sure I was going to love it, even though I knew I was going to hate it. We listened to it together for her entire stay and even though I still can't stand bluegrass music I absolutely love that album.

Wish I could find that one on CD.

Posted by: Jim at December 10, 2003 03:37 PM

Christmas is like a force of nature. You can try to ignore it if you want, but eventually it will find a way to touch you. Plus, those puppets are damn cute!

Posted by: jim at December 10, 2003 03:34 PM

And it steps on every last fucking nerve of Partner Unit's, but that CD is Christmas to me.

Everyone has her little nonnegotiable things like that. The good men are the ones who take it in stride. True, I've never made my man listen to Muppets, but there have been other things just as geeky.

And Helen, you know, I'm not personally acquainted with you or anything, but just from this blog I suspect you have, indeed, punished yourself enough this year.


Posted by: ilyka at December 10, 2003 02:29 PM

There is always a bright side, Helen...Merry Christmas to you and yours...

Posted by: eric at December 10, 2003 01:04 PM

Music and scents can call up the strongest memories. If it brings back happy times, it's not stupid. I hate "Rubber Duckie", but it brings back memories of singing loudly and off-key with my daughter when she was young and playing in the tub, so it's paradoxically also a favorite song. And every holiday season I miss the smell of Grammy's kitchen at Christmas and Thanksgiving, even if it has been nearly 40 years. If it recalls fond memories, it's NOT stupid; it's important and special.

Posted by: brj at December 10, 2003 12:53 PM

You blast those classics out at the top of your lungs petal ; )

abs x

Posted by: abs at December 10, 2003 10:33 AM

Helen - You have to go for the "source of regular comfort" every now and then. You deserve it. Play it once for me, as well.

Posted by: Sue at December 10, 2003 09:15 AM

I think festivals have one purpose -- to remind us of better and happier times. Hope you have a better next year and best wishes for the jobs and the men.

Posted by: Melodrama at December 10, 2003 09:08 AM

Rituals can be the best thing, especially if you feel like crap, they are like a great big old chair to sink into. Great post Helen, sorry about the partner unit fight and the Y helplessness, but it will all be ok... GO THE MUPPETS :)

Posted by: nisi at December 10, 2003 09:06 AM
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