Reclaiming the winter holiday, Santa Cruz-style
Here in the winter holiday season, we take time out to honor our loved ones, cultivate camaraderie and compassion and huddle together for warmth during the darkest, coldest part of the year. But what to do when the nonstop barrage of elevator-friendly Christmas tunes and falsely perky TV commercials dampens our holiday cheer, and the true song of Yuletide joy is drowned out by the clinking of coins and the beeping of barcode scanners?
Thankfully, there’s no shortage of Santa Cruzans who have found inventive ways to combat mall-culture consumerism and rediscover the original meaning of the holidays. A prime example is “An Altared Christmas” (altared.com), which made its sixth annual run at The Rio on Dec. 11. In this offbeat yet heartfelt Christmas celebration, an assembly of world-class musicians performs traditional Christmas numbers, but with a unique twist: The songs have all been transposed to minor keys. Rather than being a mockery of these tunes, this fresh take on well-known seasonal standards offers listeners a chance to hear songs to which they’ve become numb due to endless repetition in mercantile venues in a new way. In the process, many audience members receive a much-needed reminder of what the holidays are all about.