Apologies to the Jonas Brothers: It can’t be “Like It’s Christmas” every day

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Greer Vermilye

It’s important to embrace happiness, sadness and your love of the Jonas Brothers.

By Lily Freeman

The uplifting holiday hit “Like It’s Christmas” by the Jonas Brothers is, in my view, the most iconic song ever produced — and that’s coming from a proud Hebrew school graduate (‘18). It’s the embodiment of holiday spirit and is probably the sole reason why MCPS has never tragically shortened our winter break; I’m looking at you, “spring break” 2019.

However spectacular the song is, though, one of its lyrics epitomizes my previous, misguided approach to life. The line I’m referring to isn’t the singers’ frighteningly obvious mention that a “fire is warm,” but rather the lyric that encapsulates the song’s premise: “You make every day feel like it’s Christmas.”

Actually, Joe, Nick and Kevin, every day can’t feel like Christmas. This may seem like a relatively obvious observation, but as I recently discovered, recognizing that not every day can be full of joy is surprisingly difficult — yet it’s strikingly imperative.

A few weeks ago, I was experiencing — in the words of the unsung hero and children’s book star Alexander — a “terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad” start to an otherwise inconspicuous Tuesday. As I settled into my basement workspace before my first class and opened my planner, I grimaced when I saw that I had forgotten to finish studying for a test, one which was set to start in ten minutes. My heart sank as I read through the rest of my daily checklist. I had three Zoom meetings after school and several huge assignments that I hadn’t started, due at midnight.

I plastered on a bright smile. Whenever I make a mistake, like spilling my morning coffee, tripping on a staircase or accidentally tossing one of my AirPods into a lake — which happens with alarming frequency — the same thoughts always run through my head: This stinks, but it’s over and done with. It’s all okay! Smile and move on. 

So, sensing that tears were on the verge of welling up, I opened Spotify on my phone and played “Here Comes the Sun,” a song that tends to bring me joy. 

For once, though, the Beatles’ cheery opening guitar melody didn’t put a smile on my face. If anything, it made me frown. The song’s notes of gaiety and sunshine, a contrast to the bleakness I was experiencing, almost seemed to be mocking me. As I moved to turn off the music, I felt like a failure — not just because of my apparent inability to keep up with my work, but because I couldn’t find it within me to unlock any inner joy. 

I didn’t hit the pause button soon enough, though. I looked down at my phone screen to see that Spotify had selected a somber Bach piece, the name of which I don’t even remember, for me to listen to next.

I have no idea why that gloomy song came on after lighthearted pop music. Call it fate, or just a mark of my close relationship with Spotify. But when I heard those first fragile piano notes, I burst into tears for what felt like the first time in a million years.

Since starting at Whitman, I’ve tried to avoid unpleasant emotions; I assumed that they would only exacerbate the countless stressors that have accompanied my high school experience. As I sat in my basement, shaking, with tears streaming down my face and heartbreaking piano flowing into my ears, I had a realization: this sadness was freeing. 

Admitting to myself that I was upset — but recognizing that my low spirits wouldn’t last forever — provided me with more relief than I could have ever imagined. That morning didn’t feel like Christmas, and that was okay.

The Jonas Brothers didn’t approach their songwriting from a completely unfounded viewpoint. Positivity can be wonderful; in my two and a half years as a high schooler, optimism has frequently carried me through the toughest of tests and the busiest of schedules. It’s essential, though, that we acknowledge any negative emotions — and that we accept these feelings, too.

The only time I’ve broken down at Whitman was in November of my freshman year. I had been under weeks of constant strain from adjusting to high school, and sitting at a computer workstation in my engineering class one day, my distress bubbled over; I started sobbing. One of my friends immediately grabbed my hand and pulled me into the hallway. There, she embraced me and helped me understand that I was anxious and upset — but, at the same time, that those emotions wouldn’t last forever. My teacher even popped out of the room to offer me reassurance and write late passes for us, knowing that my friend and I would still be hugging long after the bell rang. 

That incident feels like ages ago, but it wasn’t until recently that I grasped the lesson I should have originally taken away from it. However embarrassing my outburst was, it allowed me to recognize my need for emotional support. Accepting negative feelings might seem like a defeat, yet it’s often anything but; in some cases, it can be a necessity.

To all my optimists out there: if you’re ever anxious, angry or dejected, it’s okay to reach for the tissues. It’s okay to hit “play” on that heart-rending Spotify playlist. And if all else fails, it’s more than okay to believe in the power of the Jonas Brothers, which, despite the singers’ overly cheery outlook, is irrefutably unbridled. I have no doubt that before you know it, life will sound “Like It’s Christmas” again.