Allegany Communications Sports

’Tis the season and everywhere we turn — restaurants, the market, the stores, the radio — we hear Christmas songs and songs of the season, and we also hear some folks complaining about it, which I don’t get, but you gotta do what you gotta do.

The only complaining about having to hear Christmas songs I am willing to concede comes from bartenders, not because I believe bartenders to be among the most skilled and most important members of the workforce, and I do; but because from the day after Thanksgiving to the first week of January, bartenders hear the same cycle of Christmas songs being pumped into their establishments non-stop — day-in, day-out, night-in and night-out.

Many of the bartenders I have talked to about this have nothing against Christmas songs, or Christmas itself for that matter. Many of them, in fact, are physically clean, good to their mothers and in favor of world peace, but when anybody hears the same cycle of music and songs of any genre every day for over a month, it can grow monotonous.

Of course, there are those of us who don’t look forward to the Christmas holiday at all, and for a number of reasons — stress over overspending, stress over having too many to buy for, stress over planning, buying and preparing the Christmas meal, stress over getting the home place decorated and in order for the many guests and, of course, being in a position of having no one to share the holiday with — and hearing Christmas songs play constantly only serves as a reminder of what’s to come.

I understand. We all do, but I have found fighting the inevitable only creates more stress, so why fight it at all? Open our hearts and let’s embrace what’s about to come, because Christmas is on the way. It’s coming again this year, you know, just as it comes every year. Christmas stops for no one, and thank God for that.

Not being a bartender, though I do spend a great deal of time with them, I enjoy hearing the Christmas songs of all styles and from all time periods — “Silent Night,” “Joy to The Word,” “White Christmas,” “Silver Bells,” “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” you name it.

And other than the serious carols and hymns that sing about the true meaning of Christmas (oh, I killed “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” in Glee Club), to me it is officially the Christmas season the first time of the year I hear Bruce Springsteen’s famous live version of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.”

To me, if the happiness in that song and the performance of the E. Street Band, with The Boss at the peak of his powers, and with the great sax and ho-ho-ho of The Big Man, can’t stir the Christmas spirit within me, nothing can. And I believe the spirit of Christmas lives in all of us no matter how hard some of us try to humbug it to ourselves.

I am also very partial to “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” by John Lennon and Yoko Ono, who entered into the spirit of Christmas in their own way with an anti-war sentiment, as Lennon was reported to have said, he was “bloody-well fed up with ‘White Christmas.’”

I love the song for a number of reasons, some of them personal, and I am always touched by it. It has offered the most appropriate wish for us all since it was released in 1971 — peace on earth.

“Do They Know It’s Christmas?” by Band Aid, “Christmas Canon” by Trans-Siberian Orchestra, “Same Old Lang Syne” of Dan Fogelberg, “Please Come Home for Christmas” by the Eagles and the “Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy” duet of Bing Crosby and David Bowie are favorites, as well; the point of them being to feel and appreciate the love in the season, happy or sad.

Of course, when it comes to Christmas songs, there are also some real dogs out there, and as much as I love dogs, any Christmas song done by barking dogs or the Chipmunks represents the absolute worst in songs of this or any season. And truthfully? I’ve never cared for “Jingle Bell Rock” if you must know; or, for that matter “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” but that’s just me.

And by the way, for over 50 years since the first time I saw the movie “The Sound of Music,” nobody has ever been able to explain to me why “My Favorite Things” is a Christmas song. Why do we never hear this song on the radio around the fourth of July?

To me, if Rodgers and Hammerstein is your thing (and it is a time-honored great thing), isn’t this song an appropriate-for-all-seasons song? Where is the mention or the message of Christmas in it — “brown paper packages tied up with strings?” We can get those any time.

Sleigh bells, snowflakes and silver-white winters? You can see those in Buffalo anytime. Come on, this is not a Christmas song.

Unless, of course, it puts you in the spirit of Christmas; in which case, who are we to fight it?

Lighten up. Do yourself a favor and enjoy the thoughtful, beautiful and joyous music of the season. Allow yourself to love Christmas, because, as we always come to realize, Christmas will always love us.

Mike Burke writes about sports and other stuff for Allegany Communications. He began covering sports for the Prince George’s Sentinel in 1981 and joined the Cumberland Times-News sports staff in 1984, serving as sports editor for over 30 years. Contact him at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @MikeBurkeMDT