Edmonton

'It's pretty much sheer dread': Why some people hate Christmas music

'It's absolutely terrible and when it comes on I'm literally like, ugh, it's going to be a long five minutes'

Wallis Snowdon - CBC News

December 20, 2016

Does Christmas music make you grimace like Grinch? You're not alone. (Empire )

With every jolly refrain of Santa on the Rooftop, Michelle Laine's heart flutters with horror.

The Red Deer musician, who has been working at retail stores for more than 10 years, has come to dread the sound of Christmas music.

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Some songs are horrendous enough they almost make her ears bleed.

"It's the worst," Laine said in an interview with CBC News.

"It's absolutely terrible and when it comes on I'm literally like, ugh, it's going to be a long five minutes. It's pretty much sheer dread."

The festive tunes that blast through every shopping mall and coffee shop this time of year are the bane of her existence.

And preparing herself for the agony of listening to the same songs, all day long, from November onwards, is a struggle, she says. 

"It's a long haul... just knowing that it's all I will be listening to for the next two months," Laine said. "And being a musician, there are so many other things I would love listening to, so for me it's just annoying."

Laine is not alone in her plight.

'Too much of a good thing is good for nothing'

"Anything that we get too much of becomes either boring or annoying after awhile," said Dr. Ganz Ferrance, an Edmonton-based psychologist.

"Too much of a good thing is good for nothing, as the old saying goes."

While hatred of Christmas music may be considered heresy to some, Ferrance said many people are tortured by the relentless barrage of holiday tunes.

For some, it can almost be like a flashback, and whether it's positive or negative will depend on your personal holiday history.

"Music is something that's so personal that it triggers different memories for different people," Ferrance said.

"Certain melodies, sounds, and even smells of the season all trigger memories and people will have certain associations with those memories, either positive or negative."

'It can be a trigger, good or bad'

Ferrance said he has never counseled anyone who was struggling specifically with Christmas music-related psychosis, but he believes these songs play into the general stress of the season.

"It can be a trigger, good or bad," he said.

"Right now what I've been seeing in my practice is there a lot of family stuff is coming up because there is all these idealized ideas of what families or relationships should be like, and lots of people don't have that, so it brings up lots of angst, pain and frustration and other issues for them."

'It brings up lots of angst, pain and frustration and other issues.' - Dr. Ganz Ferrance, Edmonton-based psychologist

For his part, Ferrance is in the pro-Christmas music camp, with Silent Night being his all-time favourite.

"It kind of warms up the atmosphere," he said.

He said hearing Christmas music in the malls adds something positive to the season for him, but knows it's certainly not for everyone.

Even Laine — who so often grimaces like a Grinch at the notes of any Christmas carols — eventually "becomes immune" to the nail-grating powers of Christmas music.

And for one day each year, on Dec. 25th, she softens her stance and sings along to a select few holiday classics.

"The week before Christmas, you start to get into the spirit a little bit more," she said.

"There is a point when I kind of get over myself and say, 'You know what, it's not that bad.'"