I know they says Myers-Briggs isn’t scientific, but…

…when I take the tests, I always get INFJ — Introverted iNtuitive Feeling Judging — and in the article “How Each Myers-Briggs Personality Type Prepares For The Holidays,” via Lori’s cousin-in-law Sarah, there’s only one type that’s spot on.

INFJ – Drives themselves crazy trying to narrow down the MOST PERFECT gift for everyone, that is in equal parts meaningful and practical.”

The problem is, of course, that such a gift does not yet exist. As with gift-giving as with everything else in life, perfect is the enemy of good. If you find yourself in the same boat, though (and if you do, tell me because we INFJs have to stick together), here are a few coping techniques:

  1. Recognize the reality of imperfection. You will find a gift every so often that is somewhat closer to perfect. When you do, buy it, even if you’re not anywhere near Christmas, a birthday or whatever the right celebration is. But accept that most of the time you will not. So, start with lower sights.
  2. When you lower your sights, lower them to theme. You know what people like. Even if you can’t name your perfect ideas, you can likely name themes that lead toward them. Recognize these themes are a very good starting point. You’re letting the recipient’s life lead you ahead. That’s enough.
  3. Start early. There’s no reason you need to wait until Black Friday to start. I used to wait until Christmas week, and the stress would be in terrific position to kick my butt. Now it’s the beginning of November or even October for me. You can spread your stress over time, without deadline pressures.
  4. When your list is complete, stop to smell the Christmas trees. You tried your best, but now there’s a season to celebrate and for which to slow down — or at least for which to try to slow down. This morning, I’m listening to Vince Guaraldi Trio’s A Charlie Brown Christmas after reading an essay about it.

“There’s loneliness and companionship, joy and despair, truth-seeking and blithe celebration, all during what’s marketed to be the most wonderful time of the year. Your interpretation of the season begets your holiday spirit, whatever version it may be – bah humbug and good tidings. It’s little surprise then that Charlie Brown’s soundtrack, as well as our own, is something just as introspective and shifting. Something like jazz.”

Finally, all the way through ‘Frosty’

Highlights of last weekend’s family Christmas tree-cutting, minus the tree-cutting this year for schedule and other reasons: multiple types of mac and cheese, multiple types of cornbread, multiple types of cookies, cousin Molly’s boyfriend Matt giving piano accompaniment for the first time, Molly putting together songbooks of the big secular carols for the first time, the whole family as a result making it all the way Frosty the Snowman for the first time ever (instead of getting stuck as usual on the thumpity-thump-thumps), Lori taking dozens of relatives in stride, and, despite the lack of the tree-cutting trip outside, plenty of warmth.

Those Christmas carols didn’t write themselves

You may not know the name Bill Studwell, but if you’ve ever Googled a Christmas carol, you may know his work. Until dying this fall, Studwell was the nation’s greatest expert on carols. On top of his day job at a Northern Illinois University library, he studied carols and examined one in depth every year at the holidays. Five years ago, my blogging about modern carol-writing’s struggles inevitably ran into his good research.

Take some time to read the Chicago Tribune‘s story this month about Studwell. After his death from lymphoma complications, his family, a trusted friend and a supportive university are both concluding his 25-year holiday series and keeping their own holiday celebrations alive.

(The carol most often in my head this year? Let It Snow. Not because I want snow. After last winter, I could do without it anytime soon this winter. But I like the mix of sentiments in the lyrics, all one big wish.)

Let Christmas music season begin

Local WASH switched to its all-Christmas format on Friday, beginning the period when I listen to the station even less than I did before.

Don’t get me wrong. I love good Christmas music. My family and the cousins sing carols every year at the Christmas tree cutting (three weeks away), and my shelves have two Marah Christmas releases, one of the many Elvis Christmas albums (following a tape I had as a kid), the Shalitas Christmas EP, and the Springsteen Santa Claus Is Coming to Town CD single. But I’m not willing to give up my scruples and say an all-Christmas, all-the-time format is healthy. There are too many songs like The Christmas Shoes in the world. I need to fight.

Saw Love Actually the other night, which I hadn’t seen in a couple years, and I’m not going to comment on my state at the movie’s end. Let’s go with manly and stoic. But it was good to get my first listen of the holiday season to — I’ve said it before in this blog, I’ll sure say it again — by far the best Christmas song of the past several decades.

SonyBMG has done YouTube the humbug of uploading a pixelated version that you can’t embed (way to protect 1994’s free content!), so we’re going with the Dailymotion video. All I Want for Christmas Is

A little more than you want to be loved

Where do you find sexy radio? If you’ve ever watched any channel formerly known as UHF in Washington for any length of time in recent years, you’ve seen commercials for 97.1 WASH-FM. It is not sexy radio. The station brings you soft rock for 11 months a year and Christmas music for one. The holidays bring frequent playings of Christmas Shoes, and that should tell you something about January-November.

So should the TV spots. Several 3-D, low-budget animated people sit in an office, bored and downtrodden. One surfs to a screen showing the call letters and somehow this action starts the radio. The glittering sound of Barry White’s Can’t Get Enough of Your Love, Babe cascades into the room, and the workers stand up at their desks to dance. It is “Washington’s at-work station.”

And the song there is important. With my itchy station trigger and my lack of love lost for soft rock, generally the only two songs that make me stop on WASH-FM are All I Want for Christmas Is You and White’s You’re the First, the Last, My Everything. The latter is overplayed in the world but not as much as Can’t Get Enough is overplayed. Besides, heavy bass plus disco orchestra are a good thing. They’re like a vitamin. They’re not a whole meal, but a tiny dose is healthy.

But what should the station play today — what should it play, my friends — but a third Barry White song. It popped up in passing and there it was. The song was a deep soul groove, deeper and deeper, “deeper and deeper” as Barry’s gut utters, an act of spinning musical hypnotism: I’m Gonna Love You Just a Little Bit More, Baby.

And it’s a bedroom song. It’s a certain kind of bedroom song. It’s a late-nite jam, reserved for a time when you are beyond musical criticism. Hearing it on WASH-FM, it’s the most unintentionally format-inappropriate song I’ve heard in five years. Barry doesn’t sing too fast, he stops … to talk … at points … and the rise of the music waits for him all the way. Read the lyrics and listen. Oh my.

It’s not a song you want to hear with your dentist, your orthodontist, your opthamologist, your cubicle mates, your accounting department, or anyone else with whom you might possibly share listening to “Washington’s at-work station.” You can’t enjoy it. You don’t want them to enjoy it. But Barry wants you all to enjoy it. At work.

And he is your colleague. He is with you now and until the end of time. He is your colleague in love, the Walrus of Love. He sits next to your desk, singing to you of his love, and hums when you must concentrate. He is a great supporter of you and your work. And while it might be hard to understand the depth of this love, if your office plays the song, baby … the Walrus approves.