The Thirteenth Christmas

This is a tough post to write, but it must be done.

As Thanksgiving approaches, and more of my beloved friends and family start digging out their Christmas storage boxes and playing music as they decorate their homes, I start getting messages about my Christmas CDs.

Happy Holidays 2012Back in 2001, I didn’t know what to get all my new friends at Ingram for the holidays, so I put together a “Happy Holidays 2001” CD. It only had about 11 songs, and I gave it to maybe 20 people.

The response was so overwhelmingly wonderful that I’ve done a Christmas CD every year since. I’ve borrowed (and even commissioned) artwork from notable artists to use on the label. The number of songs doubled, but one thing remained the same — while the CD was sent around Thanksgiving, I would not release the track listing until December 15th. I always want the first listen to be a surprise…that’s part of the gift.

At one point the number of CDs I made was close to 200. I used these works under a creative commons usage like back when we made mixed tapes…though the lines there blur a bit. I never received any money for them or from them. It was always a labor of love. I simply wanted my friends to know I was thinking about them, and to share some traditional (and non-traditional) music that would make them smile and maybe even think of me.

AlphaOops: C is for Christmas!The last couple of years, the US Postal Service became the biggest burden. While they’ll happily mail a card-stock pop-up Christmas Card for 65 cents, if they find out you’ve put a CD in there, they’ll try to charge you upwards of $2 a letter. I don’t see the point of this…and I just don’t have that kind of money. So I tried my best to subvert the Postal Machine and get my tidings of joy out there anyway. Few things in this life have ever stopped me from doing what I want to do.

And yet, this year — the Thirteenth Christmas — there will be no holiday CD. Trust me — this bothers me more than I can convey in a simple blog post.

This year has not only been tough for me, it’s also been filled with sadness. Mom always listens to my Holiday CD and can sense what kind of year I’ve had based on the song choices with that extra-sensory-Mom-perception that she has. I did not want to bring you sadness this year.

Nor did I want to try and upend the process by making the CD a downloadable file — I have no problem making a “mixed tape” sampling of music I enjoy (and bands I encourage you to become a fan of), but I personally draw the line at sourcing a downloadable file for free music. I wouldn’t feel comfortable doing that unless I had personal written permission from all the bands I included that year…and that’s a lot more work than I’m prepared to do right now.

It’s not that there won’t be a Christmas — I’ll certainly do my best to make this up to you. There will be cards and blog posts and videos…and possibly other things delivered in ways neither one of us has imagined yet. Yule is still my second favorite holiday (after Guy Fawkes Day), and I can think of no better way to celebrate happiness than ushering the light back into the world with a slew of fun things.

Gah–I hate doing this. I hate disappointing people. Please don’t think I don’t love each and every one of you, because I do. And if you have one or more of the CDs I’ve made in the last twelve years, I hope you pop it in and enjoy it as much as I did when I was making it. (And if you have 2003, PLEASE drop me a line because I’m still missing that track listing and my copy is in storage.)

I promise, I’ll come back next year, better than ever. If you are an artist or a musician interested n participating in next year’s CD, please drop me a line as well. As always, magic is better when shared.

*whew* So, with that confession out of the way, back I go to revising Book Three. I leave you all to have a wonderful day and (if you’re in the US) a Happy Thanksgiving holiday.

I’ll be thinking of you.

xox Alethea

Christmas Lee