Many years ago I had a part time job as a DJ on a local radio station, and I happened to be on duty when the boss decided it was time to start the Christmas season with the Gift of Music.
He brought in a card file, a stack of CD’s and some carts, which are 8-track like devices that each played one song or commercial. On each card in the file (no computers -- it was that long ago) was the name of a Christmas song. As soon as I saw what happened to fall as the first one, I knew what I had to do.
“Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time to get the holiday season under way with WLNB’s selection of Christmas music, and I’ve been chosen for the honor or starting it out. I’m perfectly okay with that, as long as I don’t have to play ‘Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer’. Now, let’s see what’s on top of our play list ... no. It can’t be. Not that -- anything but that!”
Ah, but it was. And so I started out the Gift of Music with a redneck song about a reckless driving Santa Claus murdering elderly pedestrians.
Hey, I never said I was a good part time DJ. Note that I’m no longer employed there.
I’ve made it a practice, all my adult life, to be the best combination of Scrooge and Grinch that I can possibly be. For the uninitiated, Scrooge is the old time British fellow who gets visited by ghosts who scare him into loving Christmas. The Grinch is the green guy who goes down to Whoeville to steal Christmas, but ends up returning everything when the Whoeville people ignore the thefts and start singing happy carols, anyway. Which begs the question: if the people in Whoeville were happy anyway, why didn’t he just keep the stuff and sell it on Ebay?
Yep -- two great stories, two bad endings. Just call me the Scrinch. Or Grooge, that would be okay.
The funny thing is, I base most of my bile on either out of control commercialism or people who, themselves, act like Grinches. Yes, I’m going to get upset when I see giant plastic Santa's on display at Wal-Mart -- in September. And don’t we all get mad when some scumbag burglar steals the Christmas Presents right from under someone’s tree?
Look, Christmas all year round might seem like a good idea, but in reality it would make the holiday cheap and ordinary. Put a friggin tarp on the decorations at least until mid-November, okay? Nothing enrages me quite as much as showing up to buy Halloween clearance items, and turning the corner to discover a plastic Frosty staring me in the face.
As for stealing gifts, vandalizing decorations and such ... well, that’s just the lowest of the low. Not that I haven’t wanted to vandalize decorations, but only when the outside ones are turned on in October. For everyone else, a public whipping on New Year’s Day should beat the holiday spirit into them.
My point is this: Although I pretend to get as angry as everyone else when “Let it Snow” starts playing in the department show while people in shorts and t-shirts stumble in, wiping sweat from their brow --
I don’t know if I should say it. It might ruin my reputation, and where am I without that? Next thing you know, people will discover I really like animals. But ... okay, complete honesty, here ...
I love Christmas music.
People may never look at me the same way again.
The truth is, Christmas is the only thing I look forward to through the months of bitter cold, with nothing but driving snow and black, dead foliage. I never said I was big winter fan. I hate cold, I hate snow, I hate heating bills, I hate bulky clothes that never seem to warm me up, I hate people who like all that stuff -- but I love Christmas. Colored lights shine through the dull twilight of winter. People actually cheer up a little. And of all the things about Christmas, I love the songs the best.
It doesn’t matter if they’re old or new. Sure, the barking dog Jingle Bells thing grates on me, but I’ve never heard a version of “Santa Baby” I didn’t like. From Frank Sinatra to Christina Aguilera, nothing perks me up more. What they’ve done elsewhere in their life, or what other people think of them, doesn’t matter -- I’ll listen to it if it’s Britney Spears, or Barry Manilow.
Old or new? I love “Carol of the Bells” and “The Hallelujah Chorus”, which my choir sang in high school. They didn’t have new Christmas Songs back then. But I’ve got songs in my Christmas library by Faith Hill, the Trans Siberian Orchestra, the Eagles, and, yes, Hannah Montana.
Type of music? It’s all Christmas to me. Doesn’t matter whether the Bryan Seltzer Orchestra, Jessica Simpson, or Andrea Bocelli did it. Or that other fella, Tchaikovsky, and his Nutcracker thing. But -- and let’s be clear on this -- nothing will ever beat the classics, and Bing Crosby is the king of the classics. I may not like white winters, but “White Christmas” will always be close to my half-frozen heart.
So that’s it -- that’s my big confession. I love Christmas music ... almost all Christmas music. As long as the lyrics aren’t being “sung” by pets.
I don’t even mind that great tribute to holiday violence, “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer”.