On Christmas Eve of 2014, I had a good-natured email exchange with my next-door neighbors here in Brooklyn. It was a discussion about unwanted squirrels in our attics. These row houses are attached, so it can be hard to get to the root of the problem.

I pointed out "Hey, it's Christmas Eve. Maybe we should take this up another time."

They responded by apologizing for offending my "sense of faith" then went on to mention something about #scaringthechildren.

I ended the conversation by saying "I'm not religious, I just believe in Christmas."

And then realized that is a song. Immediately I thought it should be sung by Michael Patrick Flanagan Smith. 

To finish the words I enlisted the help of some of my favorite creative people: Jesse Schoen, Virginia Piazza, and Doron Lev.

This past August we all went in to the studio, along with a motley assortment of NYC instrumentalists ... plus my good friend Dominic Bouffard who was visiting from London .. and this was the result.

you can download it on bandcamp

or on iTunes

meanwhile, here are the lyrics:

I'm not religious
I just believe in Christmas

When I was a boy
and Santa brought me toys
Daddy read me bible stories on Christmas Eve
I remember not a word
a toy soldier or a sword
Just wrestling with my brother around the tree

When I discovered whiskey
I solved the eggnog mystery
Hanging with my friends on Christmas Eve
Open presents in the morn'
Sipping hair of the dog
Thinking of my girlfriend back in college

If Jesus were alive today
I wonder who would notice
if he sat down at the bar right next to me
I'd offer him a beer
in the spirit of birthday cheer
then say "hey man, can you help me put that star up on that tree?"

Now I'm fully grown
I've got a family of my own
Socks and ties the only gifts for me
I put the carver down and say "hey kids gather round"
This is the only place we're meant to be!

When I am an old man
Lines cross my face and hands
My family scattered like pine needles at my feet
At this Christmas time of year
I know they'll be back hear
Sparkling like the lights that deck the streets

When my body's gone
I'm just gunmetal and silicon
Space and time won't hold a consciousness that's freed
as I travel through the stars
A reborn atheist god
Christmas will still come but once a year

I just believe

Watch out Mrs. Claus, I'm coming for you under the mistletoe

It ain't sacrilegious, I just believe

I got a bunch of friends getting Chinese food and going to the movies


Brought to you by Catfish Calhoun and Friends ...

A collaboration between Sarth, Michael Patrick Flanagan Smith, Jesse Schoen, Doron Lev, Virginia Piazza, and Dominic Bouffard.

Mike - Lead Vocals
Sarth - Piano
Doron - Drums
Dom - Guitars
Virginia - Backing Vocals

Jacob McCoy - Bass

Phil Weinrobe - Banjo

Dan Richman - Mandolin

Tony Diodore and Sarah Alden on Violin

Scott Hampton on Ukelele

Exaltron on Trumpet

And everybody sang backing vocals. Absolutely everybody.

Recorded by Phil Weinrobe at Figure 8 Studios.

Mixed by Marc Urselli.

Mastered by Fred Kevorkian.