Column: COVID Curtails the Comfort and Joy of Christmas Music

Way back on November 13, Washington D.C. radio station WASH-FM flipped the switch to its annual 24/7 Christmas music rotation. That’s about two weeks before the rest of America. After the severely limited year of 2020, it’s understandable more people would haul out the holly and get in the spirit early, but many on social media cried “No Christmas music until after Thanksgiving.”

I love Christmas music, both secular and religious. I have boxes of compact discs, too many to try to play one a day. So much of the WASH playlist is composed of rock-era standards that celebrate the bells, and the trees, and sleighs with reindeer. “Jingle Bell Rock” and “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” seem like they’re scheduled hourly, followed by Frosty, and Rudolph, and Santa Claus coming to town.

On Twitter, conservative Casey Mattox wrote these festivities shouldn’t start before Thanksgiving, and then noted Catholics lecture “Well, actually, Christmas BEGINS on December 25. You’re thinking of Advent.” He then joked these people were fussy, and didactic: “Catholics are the Neil DeGrasse Tyson of Christmas.”

As a Catholic, I know we can be very serious about the Advent season. Some refuse to get out the tree and decorate until the actual date of Christmas is nigh. While WASH-FM will go back to its mellow middle-of-the-road pop music at about noon on Christmas Day, Catholics celebrate the birth of Christ through the “12 days of Christmas” (ending on the Feast of the Epiphany), or one more week to the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord.

The best Christmas songs are saved for those 12 days. In Advent, there’s “O Come Divine Messiah” and “O Come O Come Emmanuel.” We have to wait patiently for “Silent Night,” “O Holy Night,” and “Oh Come All Ye Faithful.” It feels joyful and triumphant to arrive.

Just as we couldn’t have a church choir for Easter, there won’t be a choir for Christmas, either. The lockdowns also prevented the annual controversy over bringing Christmas songs into the public schools, with many bans in the name of “tolerance” and “inclusion.” Even the secular songs about winter wonderlands of snow are considered micro-aggressions.  

Some are still active with the macro-aggressions. The Satanic Temple fought to buy billboards in Dallas, Houston, and Miami during the holidays to promote their “religious abortion ritual” to “sanctify the abortion process.” One billboard shows a woman holding up a tiny adult Adolf Hitler with the words “What If Abortion Had Been an Option?”

This sounds precisely like the way Satan would try to tempt people into the sin of murder, by proposing it as the sincerest kind of know-it-all humanitarianism. It’s also egregiously Satanic to divert attention from the birth of a savior to tout so-called “religious abortion rituals.”

For all of us who celebrate it, Christmas should be a joy, and also a challenge. Can we try harder to live up to the idea of peace on Earth, good will to men? We might need a military solution for the Hitlers, but we can certainly try to be more peaceful to our fellow Americans…maybe starting with the temptations of righteous slams on social media.

The focus on cultivating our own faith and hope and charity brings me back to a favorite old Bing Crosby song, “The Secret of Christmas.” Secular and religious themes combine into a very condensed sermon in the lyric: “So may I suggest, the secret of Christmas / Is not the things you do at Christmas time / But the Christmas things you do all year through.”

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