Brenda’s Unfortunate Record Of The Week: Christmas Edition
So I already wrote about X-Mas last week but seeing as we’re now nearing the real deal, forgive me as I rinse it some more.
For once I’m actually gonna start with the track. This was last year’s festive offering – an edit of Little Rita Faye’s ‘Miracle Of Christmas’, hands down one of the best sounding carols ever written. It might be a bit of a regurgitation but I think the holidays would’t be the same without it. Plus I have a bit of a thing for Miss Faye’s voice. It just seems to conjure up all sorts of evocative festive vibes. I should probably say now that what I relish most this time of year is a more grunge than sparkle. I’m less about the jolly Coca-Cola figure, more into the dirty, soggy Santa left in a corner of the parking lot; the depressingly empty strip mall, half-dressed in tinsel; the tinny, tinkly jingles, piping out from the broken tannoy; the image of a half-melted, muddy snowman who’s been robbed of his carrot etc etc …
In saying that, although by no means religious I did go through a little phase when I’d only celebrate if I went to Mass. I mean, it’s a Christian holiday and all … Trekking out in the sub-arctic, snowy, suburban Montreal streets, getting sandwiched up in the sweaty balcony & suffering through an interminable Catholic service, conducted in such a thick Québecois accent I could barely follow the hymns. Nowadays I’d just rather not partake. Aside from the cards that is. Every year I send out around 40 homemade, bespoke bits of arts and crafts. This year’s theme was a lino-block print of a wonky left-handed life drawing. A kind of debauched, naked, boxing Santa or pre-historic human, depending on the eye. The 2015 edition was perhaps a bit more conventional – cats, glitter, ‘HAPPY HOLIDAYS’ (written in Japanese) and Saint Nic stickers. It made up for 2014, the first year I attempted print without realising how long ink took to dry. I ended up sending out piles of soggy teeth. When my mum heard I was back at the press she gasped, ‘you’re not doing dentistry again, are you?’. Surely it’s the thought that counts? In saying that, I’ve received far fewer responses to my cards this year than usual. Maybe I’ve outdone it on weirdness, really put folk off for good. Or maybe I’ve amassed more enemies than ever before – burned bridges which even the most genuine Yuletide peace offering can’t repair. Hmmmm.
The tradition started over a decade ago when I was working for a graphic design agency in Shoreditch. I’d been hired as the office / studio manager back when there were only 3 boys sat in a tiny box above Hoxton Square. The main client was Nike and we quickly expanded, moving to a much larger premises on the other side of Curtain Road. This new space was clearly divided. A wall separated us in accounts from the ‘creatives’. Staring at my Excel spreadsheets, I often felt I was on the wrong side. In saying that, I had it good, often getting away with spending days working on promo for my band with access to a wealth of designers who conceived logos and sleeves for free. And every Christmas, I was given the task of producing the company cards.
For the first edition, I bought a load of festive antique postcards of Ebay, stuck them on black cards which I decorated with torn pages of ‘A Christmas Carol’. The following year was a variation on the same theme, except I replaced the turn of the century fayre with Soviet Space New Years memorabilia. The third and final year was perhaps the most extravagant. By that time, the agency was turning over six figures and I somehow managed to convince them to buy a vacuum sealer. I filled tiny bags with bits of Turkey TV dinners & stuck them to the front alongside shiny swirls and stars … a visual representation of too much Christmas lunch. I left the company soon after but often think back of them with a mix of fondness and regret. They must have really liked me a lot and in the end, I don’t think I showed as much gratitude as I should’ve.
But I’ve carried on the practice ever since and no doubt, have become a better person along the way. So yes, if a not-really-participating, non-believer can draw some goodness & inspiration from the season, surely that must represent some sort of ‘Miracle Of Christmas’. Happy Holidays, everyone! Here’s to as good a 2017 as is possible. Peace, love & long live craft.