‘River’ by Joni Mitchell Is Not a Christmas Song

Even if you and your beloved used to ice skate on the river, or even at the indoor rink. Even if you had to take them to the ER from the U-Pick farm because sawing a tree is not a thing for beginners. Even if you both prefered Jingle Bells in a minor key.

Joni Mitchell did not write a Christmas song.

So you broke up after a solstice bonfire, or after a really awkward friend of a friends’ holiday party.  You drove around alone after dark counting the inflatable reindeer in your neighborhood because ‘Olive the Other Reindeer’ was their favorite animated comedy musical. ‘River’ should not be on the non-stop Christmas radio station.

I’m not going to get into the ‘Die Hard’ discourse here, but not everything winter-holiday-adjacent belongs in the Christmas oeuvre.

One day, when you’re out last-minute panicked shopping, wishing you’d gotten an extra large hot cocoa instead of just the large, a mysterious stranger will be standing behind you in line at the fundraising wrapping station full of teens who can’t make creased corners. The stranger will be singing along to a bland cover of the song playing over the mall speakers, and they will tell you Joni Mitchell passed into the beyond, and only then did she reveal the truth: the lover she made say goodbye was the mournful spirit of Saint Nick himself.

Jerica Taylor is a non-binary neurodivergent queer cook, birder, and chicken herder.  She lives with her wife and young daughter in Western Massachusetts. Twitter @jericatruly

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