Alana George, Campus Carrier copy editor
It’s Saturday afternoon at around 4 p.m. I have been cleaning my room and doing laundry since I woke up at 10 a.m., and a combination of thieves and raven essential oils are making my room smell like a dream. I just made my bed with freshly washed and dried sheets, and as I sit here on my futon writing, one of my favorite Spotify playlists is playing in the background: Christmas Classics.
I’ll be honest: my mental health has really been suffering for about seven months now, and I’ll give you two guesses as to why. It’s been so bad that I’m now seeing a counselor through the Berry Counseling Center (10/10 would highly recommend) to process all these recent negative feelings. I had so much hope and optimism going into 2020, and sitting here in September, I feel like I’ve been having a nightmare, filled with very uncharacteristic angst and rage, that I can’t wake up from. If it wasn’t for my faith, my beautiful campus and my amazing support system of friends and family, I would have definitely spiraled by now.
My amazing counselor has been very helpful for validating these negative feelings and reassuring me that I am not alone in this nightmare. At our last session I admitted to her that some of my coping mechanisms during this time have not been the healthiest, and that I felt really bad about that. She immediately told me to not feel bad; she reminded me that she is here to help direct me toward healthy coping mechanisms that will get me through the day, but I should give myself some grace in the meantime; we are in a global pandemic, after all.
Giving myself grace has manifested itself in multiple forms, but one in particular has caused some raised eyebrows from my friends: my love of and almost constant listening to Christmas music. I used to be a purist about it; I would come home from Black Friday shopping and play Michael Bublé for the first time that whole year, and it would honestly be a spiritual experience. This changed for me in 2018, when my parents and I decided to go to Disney World during Christmas and were actively planning that trip for the entire year (if you’ve ever planned a Disney trip before this is no surprise to you). I was so excited for that trip that when I was scrolling through Etsy planning all of my park outfits, I would have Christmas music playing in the background. This started in May and did not stop until January.
Christmas has always been my favorite time of year, as it is for many people, and it never fails to bring me joy. The lights, the cold weather, the hot chocolate, the movies and, of course, the music put me in the merriest and brightest state of mind possible. Every Christmas is an opportunity to make new memories with friends and family while living out old traditions, and that is really what I cherish the most. Anytime I can relive the memories of Christmases past is a moment of unbridled optimism, joy and peace.
This is why I really do need some Bing Crosby and Nat King Cole to cure the global pandemic blues. When I listen to Michael Bublé and close my eyes, I can smell our fresh Christmas tree and see all of my favorite ornaments sparkling before me. When I listen to “Silent Night,” I am standing in the sanctuary of my church of 17 years on Christmas Eve, holding a candle, with tears in my eyes. When I hear “O Holy Night” I am 11 years old again, singing to my family, with my Paw-Paw beaming proudly, not knowing that he only had four Christmases left with us. Unlike any other music I listen to, the music of Christmas penetrates to the deepest, most tender part of my soul and wraps it in a blanket of reassurance that everything really will be ok.
If Christmas music does this for you, please go listen to some right now, especially if your mental health is suffering like mine. If Christmas music doesn’t do this for you but something else does, go do whatever that thing is. We are living through a global pandemic in a divided nation about to elect a new president: do whatever makes your heart sing, because nothing in the news will do that for you, and we all need something to look forward to. Christmas is 85 days away, but until then we have to muddle through somehow, so go have yourself a merry little Christmas, or do whatever you need to do to heal your soul, right now.