While grabbing lunch with a friend a few weeks ago, I managed to move a conversation from lunch food to the overwhelming terror of family illness within the span of about ten minutes. She took up the conversational reins and–despite her best efforts–we moved from talking about finals to discussing the prospect of unemployment and destitution post-grad.
Clearly we needed cheering up in the form of obnoxiously-sized, frosted cookies. Cookies procured, we tried to find something nice to talk about. A few sentences later, we were talking about general ennui.
At this point we burst out laughing, because clearly we are broken in the sort of way that turns cookie cake into self-examination.
My friend drew a comparison to a mountain. No matter where our conversation started, we tumbled down the side of Mount Conversation–ricocheting off mountain goats (perhaps listening to the Mountain Goats) and rocky outcrops–and landed in the river of sadness.
In the four or five times I’ve seen her since this realization, we haven’t been able to escape it. It got to the point that a few nights ago I was joking about doing this family coat of arms craft with a crest composed of a mountain, with 40 of cheap malt liquor being poured out, down the mountain, into the river of tears. Perhaps with, “Where I go, sadness follows,” in Latin (for class!). Perhaps a tiny violin could be floating down the river.
At some point, we made the decision to give up trying to avoid our clearly melancholy inclinations.
And really, during this most wonderful time of the year, it’s not too hard to do! People forget in the midst of all of our holiday cheer and good will towards men, but there’s plenty of classical holiday grounding for melancholy (or, for the Russians among us, toskà), even without recent events.
Music is easy to find if you don’t want to do what I’m doing and just loop the above-posted Mountain Goats song on loop until your neighbor’s yappy little poodle just loses its damn mind. Want classic? Have a blue Christmas. Want to be funky hipster weird? Here’s a Very Death Cab Christmas Breakup Song Cover. And do we even need to mention “Christmas Shoes“? (Answer: always, because it is so wonderfully terrible.)
If, like me, you spend most of your time watching pictures on screens, that is rife with opportunity! How about literally any of the classic 1970’s claymation Christmas specials? Watch the other reindeer mock Rudolph while hanging out in the uncanny valley. Pour out some eggnog and cuddle up to the depressing-but-still-classic Charlie Brown Christmas Special (and then dance to some jazz). Humor your friend from the cookie anecdote by watching the Grinch even though you don’t like it that much.
And then, once all of that’s done, it’s time to watch this Charlie Brown Christmas/OutKast mashup*, pull yourself out of your funk, and head on home for the holidays.
* A Chapman Christmas tradition!