30 November, 2005

"Christmas" music on the radio

It's gripe time again. This is somewhat tongue-in-cheek, though.

I drove home to see my folks over the weekend. Since my wife and son don't find NPR as captivating as I do, we tried to find some music. Alas, not everyone likes to listen to classical music, so we had to find something more contemporary.

We've reached that time of year when contemporary radio stations all switch to Christmas music. I don't understand this obsession. My mother informs me that one station has been playing Christmas music since the 1st of November. One is reminded of the Peanuts Easter special where the children enter a store and see advertisements for early Christmas sales. "Only 245 shopping days left!" or something like that. Any day now, I suppose some station will get the bright idea to play Christmas music all year 'round. (I'll expect 10% of the royalties for coming up with the idea, thank you very much.)

Look, my birthday precedes Christmas by more than three weeks; you'd think that the radio stations would at least wait for that to pass. If you don't consider my birthday important enough, consider the fact that it wasn't yet Advent. For crying out loud, it wasn't even Thanksgiving! Can't we at least wait for one major holiday to pass before we start playing music appropriate to another?

This wasn't so bad for my wife and son; being Russian, they aren't familiar with American Christmas music. They soon had an entertaining introduction. As the singer howls in one song, "It's the most wonderful time of the year!" Even my wife found that laughable.

As I was listening, I noticed something that I found curious. Almost none of the songs mention Christ's birth. This corresponds to the curious phenomenon where many "holiday" displays portray symbols of Hannukah, Kwanzaa, and... Santa Claus. Hello? what about us Christians?

Don't misunderstand; I'm quite amenable to Santa Claus, Frosty the Snowman, and so forth. Businessmen have every right to worship their god in public. Nor am I averse to public acknowledgment of Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, even if Kwanzaa was invented by a fellow who wants blacks to abandon Christianity for a cultural religion, and Hannukah was a minor holiday in the Jewish calendar until the businessmen figured out that they could sell stuff to Jews by playing it up.

What I am averse to is the near-absence of Christ. When I enter stores, I strain to see a nativity scene displayed, or images of the virgin mother holding the Christ child. I see plenty of images of Santa Claus, who is not a Christian figure, even if he once was. Santa Claus is now the god of businessmen, who in the current economic climate implore his intercession more fervently than do American children.

Back to the songs. Many of them mention snow, which here in the mid-Atlantic is a highly unusual phenomenon before January. "Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!" Don't hold your breath. "Jingle bell, jingle bell, jingle bell rock!" Oh, go stuff yourself.

I confess that there is one Christmas song the radios play that I do enjoy. I'll copy and paste it below. However, I much prefer hymns to Christ, and not that simpering stuff on religious radio, either. Give me something like Ninna nanna sotto la neve, What Child is This, or some other hymn that remembers that Christ was born for the purpose of dying.

As for the only secular song I still enjoy, what else could it be?

You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch.
You really are a heel.
You're as cuddly as a cactus,
You're as charming as an eel.
Mr. Grinch.

You're a bad banana
With a greasy black peel.

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