We find some rest in Christmas, in the giving and receiving of gifts—because, as in fairy tales, the beautiful and the good are one.
The Weekly Standard’s Andy Ferguson is consistently one of the funniest and most insightful guys around. His latest piece (“Jingle Hell”), on the annual deluge of atrocious Christmas music, is among his best ever. Mariah Carey in a snowsuit and “All I Want for Christmas is You,” for weeks without end? It’s enough, Andy writes, to “make him shout for the death of the entire Mormon Tabernacle Choir by Columbus Day.” Well said.
I’ll add this to Andy’s trenchant observations: the bombardment with lousy music is sufficiently intense to ruin—for a captive audience—not just Advent but also much of the actual pre-Christmas music. The scariest number in all of Christendom is 438. That’s the St. Michael’s Hymnal number for “O Come Emmanuel,” and it’s 438 because that’s how often the average supermarket shopper must suffer through it—before Advent.
(And still they put it on the playlist every Sunday. Daily Mass is so much better during Advent: not enough time for anyone to sing.)
True to form Andy ends on a terrific point—a G.K. Chesterton point: even a debased, post-Christian society can’t ultimately get beyond Christmas. Not really. Why?
[E]very now and then an image pops to mind when I listen to my all-Christmas radio station. I like to think of a sophisticated fellow, impatient with religion and educated in the contemporary manner, walking, let’s say, past a church in a December twilight, maybe musing about Mariah’s snowsuit or wondering how Grandma got run over, and then perhaps he will linger for a moment and sneak a peek at the manger scene, throw a glance into the crib, and hear the strains of the carol from within: Mild, He lays His glory by, / born that man no more may die. And suddenly he will wake up and discover why.
“Wait a minute!” he will say. “All I want for Christmas is You!”