It’s beginning to feel a bit like Christmas (to paraphrase the song). To help get you in the mood we’re doing a playlist of well-known festive hits. Plus one or two Christmas-related tracks that may have passed you by.
If you have checked out our #SongsForSoundMinds playlist you will know that we like to mix a bit of music trivia with some suggestions for good mental health. Our new playlist #The12PlaysOfChristmas is no different.
Alongside some slightly nerdy music facts, there will be tips for staying positive through what might be a difficult holiday period. We start with 3 Christmas hits from the early 1980s.
Wham, ‘Last Christmas’
Pop superstar George Michael penned this perennial festive hit, ‘Last Christmas’ in 1984 and it was released by Wham, the band George played in alongside Andrew Ridgely. To this day it is the biggest selling UK single never to reach number 1.
In the year of its original release it was held off the number 1 spot by Band Aid’s all-conquering, ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’ Wham mirrored the stars of Band Aid and donated the royalties from ‘Last Christmas’ to the charity efforts in Ethiopia.
Coping with a broken heart at Christmas
The song itself is a poignant tale of frustrated love; a man ditched by his sweetheart after expressing his love. If you are recovering from a relationship breakdown yourself you may be wondering how you are going to cope with the hustle and bustle of Christmas. Especially when everyone else seems happily coupled.
However, as the song’s story relates, a failed romance can be a step to finding ‘someone special.’ It is possible to put regret in the past and to move on. Indeed the end of a relationship can be a liberating experience.
Rather than fighting for something that was hurtful and time-limited it is possible to look forward with hope and make plans for the future.
Paul McCartney, ‘Pipes of Peace’
Christmas isn’t mentioned in the lyrics of this Paul McCartney track from 1983. The main reason ‘Pipes of Peace’ takes its place in every self-respecting Christmas Greatest Hits compilation is the accompanying music video.
In it, we are transported to Christmas Day in 1914 when an impromptu football match took place between the British and German armies during the First World War. The news has been full of stories of the end of the First World War and that Christmas truce was a rare moment of humanity in a brutal campaign.
Macca is one of the most successful pop artists ever. One of his many claims to fame is that he is the only person to have number one singles as a solo artist, a duo (with Michael Jackson among others), a trio (Wings), a quartet (The Beatles) and a quintet (‘Let it Be’ was credited to The Beatles and Billy Preston).
Tell stories, play games and be together at Christmas
Family get-togethers over the Christmas period can be a good time to tell family stories, tragic as well as funny. Storytelling can help everyone feel part of something bigger which is an important part of giving life meaning.
We enjoy being part of ‘the gang’ whether it’s with family, friends or work colleagues. Feelings of togetherness and connectedness are good for even the most introverted of us. Playing board games together, laughing at a well-worn Christmas DVD or going for Christmas Day walks all add to the fun.
The Pretenders, ‘2000 Miles’
The lyrics of this Pretenders’ track would lead you to think it’s an ode to long-distance love at Christmas. Although this is not an uncommon theme for songs released at this time of year (‘Blue Christmas’ by Elvis Presley is only one example) it is not the motivation behind this hit from the Pretenders’ peak period.
The subject of this track, written by lead singer, Chrissie Hynde, is James Honeymann-Scott, the band’s original guitarist. Honeymann-Scott had died the previous year from drug-related heart failure at the age of just 25. The track’s melancholic strains, together with the chiming lead guitar line, remind us that Christmas can bring sadness as well as joy.
It’s ok not to be ok at Christmas
Sometimes, the festive celebrations lead us only to thoughts of those who are no longer with us. If someone close to you has died the prospect of Christmas may seem unbearable. Grief takes its toll and it’s a process we all have to come to terms with.
Remember, it’s okay to feel sad, angry or upset. Even though you might experience great pressure to put on a happy face at Christmas time. These feelings are natural particularly if the bereavement was recent. Be aware that you may need to put time aside to look after yourself.
But this time of year can also be a positive opportunity. A chance to remember happy times you had with those who have passed away. Tell funny stories, share favourite memories and reflect on their importance in your life.
Christmas can be an opportunity to cherish and keep alive the memories you have of them.
Counselling and support services
The Christmas period can be a difficult time for many of us. Whether it is due to a difficult relationship or memories of a lost loved one, we understand that not everyone is going to have a ‘happy’ Christmas this year.
At The Spark, we have been providing counselling and support to individuals, couples, families and children for over 50 years. Our aim is to help clients to better understand their emotions and experiences, and to find ways to deal with them.
Contact us via our contact form or freephone 0808 802 0050 to talk about how counselling could help you.