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Swingin’ Around the Mistletoe: The Guide to Surviving the Holidays—With Music

No good has ever come from playing “Mele Kalikimaka” at a holiday party. Trust me: I’ve been in charge of spinning the tunes at my … Read More "Swingin’ Around the Mistletoe: The Guide to Surviving the Holidays—With Music"

No good has ever come from playing “Mele Kalikimaka” at a holiday party. Trust me: I’ve been in charge of spinning the tunes at my mother’s annual Christmas Eve shindig ever since I was tall enough to touch needle to vinyl. And every time I try to force Bing Crosby’s kitschy Hawaiian swing number into the festive mix, all holly-bedecked hell breaks loose. Don’t get me wrong: The Binger’s Merry Christmas album, a big-band bonanza recorded in 1961, is a must-have in anyone’s wintertime CD collection. Just heed my warning and stay away from that last track: Once Crosby kicks off the luau, and the Andrews Sisters start shaking their hips in the background, it won’t be long until Uncle George gets rowdy with the egg nog, and Cousin John starts challenging the female guests to best-two-out-of-three leg-wrestling contests.

As most of us who no longer believe in Santa are morosely aware, the holidays can be a truly nasty time stuffed with swollen Visa accounts, maudlin Budweiser commercials and nagging self-doubts about another year down the drain. Because of this relentless sleigh-bell strain, the oft-dreaded holiday party-whether at work, at home, or at your mother-in-law’s house-is always an emotional powder keg. The crucial key to making these forced-smile fetes amicable and-on those ho-ho-ho rare occasions-pretty damn fun is the soundtrack. A bad music choice by the appointed DJ can mean the difference between caroling joyfully and kicking the living crap out of each other.

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