I am a fan of Christmas music. Seasonal songs conjure up memories of my asking Santa for the game "Operation" or of my father painstakingly putting each strand of tinsel on the tree. I fondly recall the hymns I sang in church and school. But I found it irreverent to hear Josh Groban sacredly sing "O Holy Night" while shopping for a toilet at Menards.
I suspect I am not the only fan of Christmas music who objects to the bombardment of repetitive Christmas music, which is played over far too many weeks before Christmas and degrades the genre.
I love salmon. But it would not be appetizing if I had to eat it every day for six weeks -- no matter how it was prepared.
Why can't radio stations intersperse Christmas music with their regular repertoire?
Even though I only listen to the radio on my short drive to and from work, and I never begin listening to Christmas music before December, I had already heard "Jingle Bell Rock" seven times by Dec. 2.
One day recently "It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas" was playing at the same time on my two favorite radio stations.
And if I hear "Jingle Bell Rock" or just the words "rockin' around" one more time ... Part of the problem may be that there are a limited number of Christmas songs. But I know there are far more than the few I hear on the radio. As a child, I loved singing along with Mitch Miller and hearing "Pretty Paper" by Glen Campbell, and "Toyland" by Doris Day, but I never hear those.
I rejoice when I hear a new Christmas song, or an old one that makes a comeback -- that is, until I start hearing it repeatedly. "Mele Kalikimaka" and "Feliz Navidad" and "All I Want For Christmas Is You" by Mariah Carey, for example.
Some would argue that I don't have to listen to the nonstop Christmas music if I do not want to, but I do not own an iPod. I may have to invest in one, because I thought my ears would begin bleeding when I heard Michael Jackson screech, "I really did, I really did" in his version of "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus," which tortured me while standing in line to check out at Wal-Mart.
Americans no longer respect music; it is now just something in the background while they are doing something more important than listening. This is why Christmas music is treated nonchalantly. Even at Orchestra Hall, it became necessary to forcefully remind people to turn off their cellphones. So no wonder no one hears the words about my savior's birth while trying to get the best price on a stocking stuffer for the holiday that is his namesake.
In the Christian religion, the season is celebrated until Epiphany in early January. So why does the playing of Christmas music stop abruptly at midnight Dec. 25? Why can't TV and radio stations air concerts and occasionally play Christmas songs at least through New Year's Day? This is the time when many people have off work and could have time to enjoy them.
A coworker of mine corresponds with a friend in Germany who used to live in the United States. She told him that she put up her Christmas tree on Dec. 20, and he asked, "Why so early?"
So I ask, is it now a preferred choice that we glaze over Thanksgiving and willingly dedicate everything we do and hear for six weeks to Christmas -- or has it become a tradition that happened without our realizing it and one we just endure? I'd prefer a more modest approach to preparing for the holiday, so that when I hear my favorite Christmas songs, they lead me to happy memories, instead of to utter annoyance.
* * *
Gail Marie Stone lives in Brooklyn Center.