Like many people, I've had a difficult year. My dad died, an uncle died soon after, and everything is a lot, you know? Even in the best of years, I find Christmas challenging. That's why I'm filling my ears with the maximalist sounds of a song which knows true suffering, a song from a fictional musician in a video game. Reader dear, it's that time of year: if you've not already started, pour a cocoa and join me for Christmas Pain In Christmas Town.
Christmas Pain In Christmas Town is by The Chowder Man, a fictional musician whose songs and tragedies are scattered across the alt-history Internet of Hypnospace Outlaw. In reality, they're by musician and comedian Erik "Hot Dad" Helwig, who is joined here by guitarist Dave Pino (who is just plain real). The song wasn't originally in the game, mind, originally released as a Christmas surprise in 2019 with the video from Hypnospace creator Joy Tholen. It was then added in the big 2020 update.
This is one of favourite Christmas songs of all time. It's the outpouring of regret and longing which I know too well from too many Christmasses. It's the clumsy innuendo I find endearing. It's the appeal to Father Christmas to save the day. It's the wall of sound I crave this time of year. It's the raw and complicated emotions I don't want to tell you about. That's Christmas!
And I'm not the sort of jackass who wryly insists that their favourite Christmas movie is Die Hard. I paid for a Hallmark Channel subscription, and have watched several dozen Christmas films so far this season. I think Mariah Carey made the perfect Christmas song. I have seen the Christmas lights at the botanic garden, and might go again. I point out good Christmas lights to anyone who's out with me. I have built a gingerbread house, and I have eaten a gingerbread house. Christmas Pain In Christmas Town fits perfectly on my festive spectrum.
(Love Actually can do one, by the way. Love Actually commits the greatest sin a Christmas romance can: it believes love is magic. No, Christmas is magic, and the magic of Christmas gives rise to love. Don't get it twisted. And Love Actually isn't actually about love, it's about crushes. And it's just so chuffing miserable. I was delighted to see its name borrowed by the far superior Hallmark autumn movie Love, Of Course.)
Fun Fact: I cried twice over the course of writing this post. I'm feeling that Christmas pain in Christmas Town, and I'm glad this song is here for me.