Commercialism and other tales of Christmas


I am deeply in love with the beautiful city of Nijmegen and the country in which it is situated. The Netherlands are great. I like Stroopwafels, I like the Dutch directness, I love a lot of your words (Schildpad, really) and I like that there are entire parking lots for bikes. The Netherlands are great. I even like your weather. Because bad weather is good writing and reading and snuggling weather. And I like everything that is good for writing, reading and snuggling. But, unfortunately, bad weather is terrible if you have to ride a bike. And even worse, when the destination to which you have to ride that bike is university and university is currently a constant reminder of exams and deadlines.

One of the things that keep me going during times of Dutch winter and upcoming academic duties is Christmas music. Yes, it is a cliché, but so be it. I am a big fan of Christmas-everything, but especially of the songs you heard a thousand times and that provide one of the little culturally excepted uses of bells. (Besides Hells Bells by AC/DC, but that is another story.) Unfortunately, Christmas music is, like a lot of other parts of Christmas, highly commercial and sometimes very repetitive. We live in very difficult times and especially the past months have been full of political and cultural ugliness. So, one can ask: is the fact that Donald Trump is doing something inappropriate on a daily basis a cause to reconsider one’s own political apathy during Christmas time? Can you count listening to commercial Christmas music instead of protest-songs even as apathy?

You are what you read. You are what you listen to. You are what you tolerate. And you are what you refuse. You are a lot — of decisions, of expressions, of feelings and of thoughts. It is okay to criticise the ongoing commercialism and apathy while we are dealing with serious issues. It is also okay to take a mental break from hating several parts of the universe and have a hot cocoa. It is okay to listen to Mariah Carey and it is also okay not to. Commercial Christmas music doesn’t make you a bad person, neither do non-commercial protest songs make you a good one. The world is sometimes an ugly place, just make sure that you are not adding something to that ugliness. Caring is not about listening to the right music, it is about being a decent human being. Whether it is December or any other month of the year. And, for now, have fun listening to some of my favourite Christmas songs while saving the world.

Every two weeks, Antonia will add the songs she writes about to the Spotify playlist below. This way, she creates a soundtrack to her time in Nijmegen. Click left and right for more songs.

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