Tuesday, January 01, 2019

Sad Christmas songs and perfect Martinis

Image "borrowed" from Epicurious

No, Christmas is NOT over, not by a longshot. Are you confused? See? That's what you get when start Christmas the day after Labor Day. Today is just the last day of Christmas DAY. Sunday is Epiphany, just as big as Christmas itself. Then another week till the Baptism. I am in the CENTER of Christmas here. Too bad you are missing out!

So, after a busy morning, I have been reading and listening to Christmas music. A channel called "Rockin' Christmas" on Pandora, with stuff like the Ronettes, Michael Buble, Elvis, the Brian Setzer Orchestra, and whatever else Pandora's box spits out. If it goes off focus, I down-vote it. Works pretty well, and free! (To me.)

After a few hours of this, I hopped in the shower. Ever notice how a shower works both ways? I mean, if I shower before bed, I go right to sleep. But if I feel like a wrung out rag, a shower can perk me up. Now I am well perked. This motivated me to prepare a little antipasto and a perfect Martini.

What IS a perfect Martini (actually, I should say near-perfect, because I believe the perfect Martini is impossible. I don't know if I will get around to explaining that in this post), I hear you longingly inquire? Well, as it IS Christmas, I will tell you. Here is my recipe, never published anywhere before:*

Five parts vodka (use something cheap like Smirnoff, not expensive stuff that you barely know is there), 1 part gin (I like good stuff like Tanqueray). Booze must be chilled at least. I keep mine in the freezer. Shake vigorously on ice, but not too long. Since the liquor is already really cold, the purpose of shaking it is some dilution, and those nice little chips of ice. If the hootch is warm, it will get too diluted. I like my drink to taste like a drink, not water. Then take a fully chilled Martini glass and swirl a little dry Vermouth in it. Pour out excess. You want -- that is, I want -- just a little Vermouth. Strain drink carefully into glass and garnish with two olives, stuffed with bleu cheese. Stuff them yourself, the store-bought kind are worthless. Now, if only I had a Martini glass that stayed frosty cold for an hour, then I would really have something! But, probably not perfect even then, as that is likely impossible.

So, I am enjoying my Christmas music, and I was thinking earlier about sad Christmas songs. There are so many of them! Why is that? Obviously, lots of people are sad at Christmas. I have been, too. I wonder, though, if there is more to it than that?

For Christians, Christmas is JOY JOY JOY JOY JOY, right? (The answer is yes, trust me, I am a certified expert.) So why so much sadness? Beyond the ordinary sadnesses of life, felt so much more acutely at this time of year, there is the sadness of unbelief. It always strikes me, when I read what passes for literature, especially in the last 100 years, how many authors are wistful about their loss of faith. Thats how Updike and and that bore from Mississippi -- Faulkner, it just came to me -- and others like them struck me. How can you not be sad at Christmas if you don't believe in Jesus, yet you celebrate? The only really happy part of Christmas comes from believing in Him!

Still, even for Christians, there is sadness: we know Jesus is born to die, we know Mary will suffer, the martyrs will suffer, beginning with the Holy Innocents. Right during the Christmas Octave, we have three martyrs' days. And then, we are sad because the Messianic Age Jesus promises to bring is obviously not here, amd we, ourselves, are not who wish to be.

Oh well, these are usually not what sad Christmas songs are about. They are about wrecked romance, or being unable to come home, or people being poor, hungry or lonely, or family members treating each other badly, or people dying...

Oh, hell, now I am depressed!

Haha! No, I am not! I feel great! But anyway, what do you think about sad Christmas songs? I think even "I saw mama kissing Santa Claus" is sad, don't you? What about "White Christmas," do you find it a little melancholy? What Christmas songs do you find sad? And, if you prefer, what "sad" songs do you actually not find sad?

If you want to hear about my Martini theory, you will have to ask in the comments. Mine is getting warm.

* This may not actually be true, but I don't care.


Anonymous said...

The martini is certainly a noble libation, though I might argue for a more conservative version with a tad more vermouth and greater attention to the variety of gin and it’s aromatics. I would also stress the proper glass, not one of those monstrosities from the 1970’s and 1980’s . The vessel should be 1920’s in proportion, not jumbo. Sadly there will be no martinis for me in 2019. What should be a celebratory tip of the glass would quickly turn into an alcohol fueled rant. Why? Here’s the quotes from the bosses inauguration:

“It is New York’s duty, it is New York’s destiny, once again, to bring the light that leads the way through darkness” “ To show the nation the way forward and upward”

“Within my first 100 days I will propose the New Democratic Legislator the most progressive agenda this state has ever seen. Period”

Note: one should list what that word “progressive” implies. It is a very specific group of legislative actions. It’s a list.

In this State celebrating the light you celebrate is frowned upon. If I were to repeat your Holy Family homily, I could be fired. I work for a jack ass that thinks he is the light of the world. Would you drink to that?

Stan said...

Fr Martin, enjoyed your post as always.

Over the past three years, I have become a fan of Sufjan Stevens "Songs For Christmas" collection. (He has another one called "Silver and Gold," but it is a little too weird for me, though it has it's moments.

In addition to many hymns and secular Christmas standards, "Songs for Christmas" features a bunch of originals, some of which are quite sad.

Check out the link below if you're interested.

Your friend, Stan Greer

P.S. Thanks for the martini recipe!


rcg said...

I like the vermouth rinse idea. I need to try that. Until now I used ice cubes that are as cold a posible and rinse them in vermouth, disgarding the rinse. Then take the same ice and rinse it again in gin/vodka that is poured into the glass. I also keep the gin/vodka in the freezer. Next to my homemade limoncello.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Fr Martin Fox said...

Second anonymous:

I'm guessing you're actually a "bot," but if not, then you are very rude to keep posting the same irrelevant message.

Andrew B said...

I don't have any comment on martinis, as they are one of the only cocktails I cannot abide. As for sad Christmas music, however, I have to confess that it is one of my favorite genres. Old, dark tunes like the Appalachian carol "I Wonder As I Wander" and border ballads like "The Cherry Tree Carol" hold a special appeal in the short, dark, chilly days around Christmas. There is also the incomparable beauty of the old medieval tune "Coventry Carol." I will keep drinking Manhattans, but wish you, Father Fox, and all your readers a very Merry Christmas.

rcg said...

Andrew, I felt the same way about the martini until I had someone make a good one for me. As with many simple things it is deceptively difficult to execute.

For the sad carol list I recommend “The Wexford Carol”.

Fr Martin Fox said...


As far as sad Christmas songs, when I did an Internet search for this the other day -- the day of the post -- I found out there are some real doozies. If my Martini (well executed, I will say with no false modesty) hadn't been getting warm -- and I was working from my tablet, not a PC with a keyboard -- I'd have said more about them.

In other words, if you want really sad Christmas songs, go a-searching, but have hankies ready!