“Merry Christmas”, Mariah Carey’s Christmas album, was first released on November 1st, 1994. It is 39 minutes and 31 seconds of pure “contemporary holiday” music featuring “authentic, gospel flavoured background vocals”, if you wanted to know. Carey sings traditional holiday songs, religious songs and even a few original Christmas tunes of her own, like “All I Want for Christmas Is You”, which is apparently the 11th best selling single of all time. Yes, out of all the songs in the world, ever. The album itself was sold over 15 million copies word wide and is the best selling Christmas album ever.
I know, I know. I am just as shocked as you. My money was on the 1981 spectacular ‘A Chipmunk Christmas’ that I had on cassette as a child. The dulcet tones of Alvin, Simon and Theodore screeched Christmas at me in a way no other ever has.
My Mum and Merry Christmas by Mariah Carey.
My mother fucking loved this album. Once it hit December, it was on repeat. Carey’s vocal range showcased in every festive chorus. This was one of the few bones of contention between us.
Each year, I would try to hide the CD and each year, she’d find it. I’d point out other Christmas albums, request other Christmas songs (“So this is Christmas“, anyone?), threaten to boycott our annual Christmas Eve bash (as if I’d have missed it! ), offer up my Chipmunks cassette or I’d just start whinging really loudly. Between songs, of course. Try to spend a month each year from 1994-2007 listening to Merry Christmas without learning all the damn words. Impossible! Even if it is definitely not your taste, it is damn catchy.
When my mum died in 2008, I suggested, in all seriousness, that the album be buried with her. It seemed fitting and right. The idea was vetoed, with others believing that she’d want us to keep the tradition alive each December. I think we had one Christmas without Mum and with Mariah Carey’s Christmas album. Every high note and jingly bell was like a further stomping on my shattered heart. I wish I was being melodramatic but I’m actually not. I remember listening to it and doing that thing where you laugh and joke on the outside but inside it is a very different story.
Unfortunately (depending on your perspective), Mum’s copy of Mariah Carey’s Christmas album got left outside. I swear I had nothing to do with it. It was left on an outdoor stereo that my Dad had built under the roof of the family pergola and there it perished. I can’t remember what exactly was wrong with it but stuff had grown on it and we couldn’t play it anymore. We took it as a sign that Mum did not, in fact, want us to keep enjoying it without her. It was summarily binned.
After the demise of Mariah Carey’s Christmas Album.
I was relieved; I saw the demise of Mum’s CD as a small reprieve in that I wouldn’t be forced to listen to the album anymore.
Except for one thing.
It seems that every single shopping centre in Australia is haunted by my Mum because they play that fucking album on repeat for the whole of December. Just like she did. And it kills me. Not because I cannot stand the album, though there is that. Just because it reminds me so much of my Mum. I physically can’t listen to it without getting choked up and teary. If it’s a particularly bad day, I may burst into ugly, hiccuping sobs in the middle of the discount sports shoe store, much to the bafflement of fellow shoppers who were quietly elbowing each other as they rummaged through the sale table. Yes, that happened. It’s not the only instance. Just last weekend, walking around an outdoor Christmas market, I almost choked with emotion while eating a spring roll because “All I Want for Christmas Is You” came on over the speakers.
8 Years On…
I know people say to “remember the good times” when you lose someone, but that’s actually really hard. The good memories hurt the most. I hear Mariah Carey’s Christmas album playing and I’m reminded of my Mum when she was at her very best. She had a crowd of people over to eat, drink and get merry at home. Or she was holding court at her table at the local club, resplendent in a Santa hat and laughing. Piling up gifts for the grand-kids or busy in the kitchen. Choosing a Christmas outfit for the dog. Yes, really.
“Every other season comes along
And I’m all right
But then I miss you
Most at Christmas time”
-“Miss You Most (At Christmas Time)” song by Mariah Carey.
#IBOT @ Capturing Life.