Christmas is a time of joy, celebration, and togetherness, right?
While it is a merry occasion for many, for others it is a forced gathering in which previously buried familial hostilities resurface.
They dread the holiday, but it comes back to plague them every year.
“Twice the Gifts” has instrumentals reminiscent of Christmas songs, but they are tinged with melancholy instead of glee. In doing this, Mattson evokes two contradictory sentiments; Christmas cheer and unhappiness.
Mattson’s exquisite voice sounds like a tortured, delicate adolescent. His doleful voice adds poignancy to his lyrics.
Wide awake, the snowflakes
falling out over the moon.
Court ordered Christmas is scheduled for morning and noon.
One of the reasons people don’t enjoy Christmas is because of its forced and scheduled nature. Even if your family is distant, hostile, and toxic, they still have to get together and pretend like everything is fine, because the holiday calls for it.
Every year disappear
in tinsel and tv lights,
brothers and sisters pretending they don’t hear the fights.
The merriment during Christmas can feel artificial and contrived because holidays cannot magically erase years of antagonism and distance.
In this sense, Christmas is depressing because it highlights the dysfunctionality and detachment of your family at a time meant for familial togetherness and cheer.
Friends say I’m lucky, “I wish I were you”.
Pictures of families that never seemed true,
holy and holly I’m never part of.
Yeah, it’s twice the gifts, but half the love
Light notes on the keyboard are introduced in the chorus, adding to the soft sadness of the piece.
A picture is worth a thousand words, but it never tells the whole story. It may seem like our friends have great familial relationships based on the photos they upload online, but, as is often the case, their smiles often mask deeper problems.
Mattson then shifts to a more personal perspective, describing how he never felt like a part of the family. He also observes the way in which excessive materialism can never fill the emotional void of familial love; making Christmas all about the presents makes it essentially meaningless.
Goddamn December – it feels like forever.
As opposed to many of us who can’t wait for Christmas and want it to go on forever, Mattson finds it interminable and wants it to end. The holiday season brings nothing but dread for him.
But Mattson wants this to change.
When I get older it’s all gonna change.
No shopping, no parties, it’ll be any other day.
We’ll make some new memories we’ll always dream of –
it’ll be half the gifts, but twice the love.
He wants Christmas to be a time of gathering and community, rejecting the materialism and excess celebrations that usually accompany the holiday.
As a result, the Canadian musician sings, Christmas will be remembered for shared memories of love, rather than trivial presents.
“Twice the Gifts” is a heartbreaking single that demands more than just one listen. It’s hard not to listen to this song without feeling a little choked up. Mattson seems to have achieved what he set out to do; he wrote a Christmas song that evokes the sadness he feels during the much-loved holiday.
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