Happy holidays! As I type this, I’m sitting at my desk in my house in the Cooper-Young neighborhood of Memphis, Tennessee. Some Mormons are Tabernacling on my iTunes, Christmas lights line my walls, and I’m drinking coffee AND wassail out of multiple oversized Christmas mugs. I may or may not have a candle lit that smells like “Northwoods,” whatever and wherever those are. If you think I haven’t watched Love Actually between 1 and 900 times since Thanksgiving, hi, I’m Chris Milam, and we haven’t met yet. I’m naming my first two kids “Tinsel” and “Jinglehorse.” And what I’m trying to say is this:
I love Christmas. I love the holiday season. I love the year’s end. I hear the opening seconds of Otis Redding’s “White Christmas” and turn into a 6’1 bowl of figgy pudding. My heart triples in size. I send Christmas cards to anyone I’ve ever liked. I practically run through the streets kissing babies, singing “Good King Wenceslas,” wearing unnecessary top-hats, and throwing peppermint bark at strangers.
The holidays are about celebrating the past, faith in the present, and hope for the future. Which is why I still write Santa every year. I’ll be honest: I don’t know if he reads it. But it helps to write. So here’s this year’s letter to Santa, full and unedited.
(Be sure to hit up the comments and tell me what’s on your Christmas list!)
December 1, 2010 – From the Office of Chris Milam
How are you? It’s your pal Chris. How are the missus and the elves? Did Blitzen get the turtleneck I sent? I saw you last week at Target–have you been working out?
Everything here is gravy. I know you got last year’s list, because I’m actually home for the holidays this year. Memphis has been cold by my standards, but balmy by yours. It keeps “almost” snowing, which is to say I keep “almost” assaulting my neighbors with “almost snowballs.” Wait, scratch that! I’m actually making them fudge and teaching their kids to read.
Below you’ll find my Christmas list. It’s thorough, and it’s fair, and it’s modest–just like me. 2010 has been pretty great, so I owe you many thanks for that. You, and Manhattan, and the New Pornographers, and the writers for Mad Men, and Ruby, and whoever invented football. Thanks Santa. You always deliver.
Oh, and on Christmas Eve, don’t forget the cookies by the toaster oven. Next to the pictures of you and the Bunny on Easter in your birthday suits. Love to the Miss Claus, and I’ll see you soon!
I want a trampoline.
I want a Taylor 12-string acoustic guitar. You know the one–St. Patrick played it at the hoedown last March.
I want a showcase at South By Southwest. I want four showcases at South By Southwest. I want to headline South By Southwest, and I want free nachos all weekend.
I want a box of Fruit Roll-Ups, and my favorite flavor is “blue.”
I want a new My Morning Jacket album in 2011, and I need it to be amazing. I’m not alone in this. Looks like you’ve got a good jump on it, but let’s bring it home.
I want more than two days with my family at Christmas. I know my calendar says this is impossible. Just see what you can do.
I want a trampoline.
I want a dog. I’d like it to be a German shepherd, and I’d like its name to be “Klaus,” but if you find one with another name, that’s okay, I’ll change it. I’ll do the paperwork. The dog thing is crucial for me, though–it’s really important, and I should’ve led with it.
More acceptable breeds include:
–Huskies (they’re awesome)
–Golden retrievers (they’re wholesome)
–Basset hounds (they’re hilarious)
–Wolf-mut-mix-things (they’re scary)
–Beagles (but only if there are four of them and I can name them John, Paul, George, and Ringo).
–Basenjis (they’re basically foxes)
Unacceptable breeds include:
–Labs (dumb as a bag of hair)
–Anything that might be mistaken for a Furbee, cat, or mop
I want Jeremy Lister and company to get the success they deserve. I don’t know if you watch NBC, Santa, but Lister’s group finished second on Sing Off (American Idol for a’ capella groups). During my years in Nashville, everyone knew Lister as one of the most talented artists and nicest people in town. I’m sure the show will open many doors for those guys, but I’ll ask anyway: hook them up. Bigtime. Give them a much-deserved win. (They crush a Beatles medley here and “Down on the Corner” here–enjoy.)
I want a Minka Kelly.
I want to go to San Francisco. I want to go all the time, but I can wait until spring.
I want the collected works of the Velvet Underground. You know how some artists just inexplicably fall through the cracks? Despite the fact that 1) friends I trust love them and 2) everything I’ve ever heard by them I’ve liked and 3) they’ve enormously influenced many of my favorite artists, I’ve never owned a single Velvet Underground album. I’d like you to induct me into their club, so I can be 12% cooler.
I want to see all of my friends around the holidays, but I know that’s impossible. I always want more time, Santa. Think you can swing that?
I want a good night’s sleep in 2011. Just one. If I’m greedy (and I am), I want to not be an insomniac, but I know that’s asking a lot. Maybe just one good night’s sleep–the kind normal people have after dosing themselves with Nyquil. Whatever you can do.
I want Auburn to beat Oregon. And then I want them to lose every game after that, always, forever.
I want the Magic Kids album Memphis. I want to live in the perpetual summerworld it creates. I want to know who produced it, and I want to shake his hand.
I want to play a million shows in 2011. If that’s not mathematically possible, I want to play a LOT of shows in 2011. I want to play a show in every united state. I want to open for Belle & Sebastian, or Kings of Leon, or Cee Lo. But at the very least, I want to tour EVERYWHERE next year. Gas up the reindeer. Let’s do this.
I want a gift card to DBo’s.
I want the Beatles documentary Let It Be. I’ve still never seen it, and that’s not okay. (Side note, Santa: I want to know why I’m suddenly obsessed with the Beatles all over again. Is it the Lennon death anniversary? Is it the Beatles ads for iTunes? What gives?)
I want to get all my Christmas shopping done in a 24-hour span without any hassle or stress.
I want to own the state of Virginia.
I want everyone reading this right now to “like” me on Facebook if they haven’t already. Then, I want them to think about 10 friends who would like my music too, and suggest “liking” my page to those friends. As a music fan, there’s nothing more convincing than a friend saying, “you gotta hear this!” As an artist, there’s nothing more flattering.
I want to be able to dunk. I’ve asked for this since I was eight, and you continue to disappoint.
I want a new copy of Love Actually. I can’t seem to find mine, and I think I’ve been the victim of a cruel, cruel joke. I also want you to track down whoever has it and punish them without mercy or, in the event I have it, kindly point to its whereabouts.
I want to learn one new instrument next year.
I want my mom’s chocolate chip cookies.
I want my great aunt’s chili.
I want my friend’s tomato pie.
I want another friend’s bundt cake.
I want an ungodly sum of money so that I might one day have a place in New York City. While we’re at it, I also want houses in Los Angeles and London. And Barcelona. And Santorini. But I’d settle for a timeshare in Daytona Beach.
I want some kind of caffeine IV contraption so I can skip the process of buying, brewing, or drinking coffee beverages. This would save us all a lot of trouble, and help me to work more efficiently.
I want all the books ever written by Malcolm Gladwell. Also, I want to buy him a beer sometime and talk about basketball. Does Malcolm Gladwell drink beer, Santa? Does he drink sherry? I bet he drinks sherry. Whatever, we can still talk about basketball.
I want an effing trampoline.
I want Virginia Tech to get an offensive coordinator.
I want Alabama to keep all of its coordinators.
I want the Memphis Grizzlies to get an owner that cares.
I want the Memphis Tigers to get experienced, and soon.
I want Nick Saban to know that I still love him.
I want the Redskins to know that I’ve quit them, and I’m with the Eagles now, and we’re very happy together, so please stop calling.
I want nothing to do, hours to kill, one good friend, and another cup of coffee Fido one afternoon this winter. I still miss that about Nashville. I want the same at the Mudspot in the East Village. I still miss that about New York. Winter would be unbearable without a warm place and good conversation with friends.
I want Ruby (my car) to not catch a flat for six months. Just once.
I want to be more patient. Just a little.
I want time enough to drive around Germantown and look at the lights. I want to drive by all the best-decorated houses from my old neighborhood. I want them to be just as I remember. Few things ever are, but I can hope.
I want a coat that works.
I want a hat that works.
I don’t want long underwear, but I probably need some.
I want to put out another album in 2011. Or an EP. Or a single. Or anything, really. I’ve got too many songs, Santa! I need to release them. I want to make a double-album, and I want Rick Rubin to produce it, and I want to do all of this yesterday. Then I want the head of Columbia Records to hear said album, sign me to a 7-record deal, and throw every resource imaginable behind my career. Here’s the deal, Santa: you know me. You keep tabs. You know that I love what I do, and that I work hard. All I want is to make as much music for as many people as possible for as long as possible. Anything you can do to help that happen, I’d really appreciate.
If there’s any room left in the sleigh, I want peace on earth and good will toward men. Also, I want everyone to be safe during the holidays. I know “everyone” is a lot, but it’s important.
And, in lieu of all that, a trampoline.
Til next year,
P.S. If you want free music for Christmas, click here. I’m giving away the new album for FREE this week, so enjoy. And burn a copy for Blitzen.