Note from 2015: this was first published in November of 2007. As Mark Twain once said, History doesn’t repeat itself, but it rhymes.
Not going to talk about the Ravens. Not going to talk about the Ravens. Not going to talk about the Ravens.
OK, I will say this: I was in line at a convenience store on Sunday after the game, and a guy behind me said, “How do you keep ravens out of your yard?”
In a heartbeat, another customer provided the punch line.
“Put up a goalpost.”
Now that that’s out of my system, I will proceed to this week’s regularly scheduled program.
I was sitting in an eatery recently perusing the bill of fare when I realized Christmas music was playing in the background.
I was annoyed. I mean, Christmas seems to come earlier and earlier, and everybody scrambles to squeeze as many dollars as possible out of it from Halloween straight through the post-holiday sales.
Then my wife pointed out that it was after Thanksgiving, so Christmas music was perfectly legitimate.
I hate it when she’s right.
All right, first here’s wishing everyone had a great Thanksgiving and spent it with family and friends. We in this country have so much to be thankful for. It’s good that we have a holiday that points this out and that we have a national character to observe it.
I once read a book by an Italian living in America. He said that they wouldn’t understand Thanksgiving in Europe. According to him, if the Europeans had anything to be thankful about, they’d just complain less.
Now, about Christmas music. I have a confession to make: I love Christmas music (as long as it’s played in the Christmas season). I’ll even admit to getting a little misty-eyed at songs like “O Little Town of Bethlehem” and “Silent Night.”
And “The Little Drummer Boy.” But that’s where the problem starts.
See, as I said, I can get a tad emotional when I hear “The Little Drummer Boy.” For the first time. But our retailers and mall operators and just about everybody else who plays canned music in public have turned this simple, lovely little song into a form of pollution so toxic that I swear it causes fistfights during sales.
It’s that refrain: Pa-rum-pum-a-pum-pum, rum-pum-a-pum-pum.
When heard once, it’s a compelling little chorus that focuses the emotion of the piece and makes it evocative.
But when it’s played over and over and over on department store speakers and in malls and restaurants and airports, it begins to rub that little bump in your brain that, when sufficiently agitated, makes you want to bludgeon someone with a half-off toaster oven.
And then there’s the presentation. As I said, it’s a simple little song about a poor boy who wishes to give a present to the baby Jesus. Using a full orchestra and some too-loud crooner or bellowing opera singer is a bit jarring, considering the subject of the lyrics.
The drummer boy didn’t shout “HEY, CAN I PLAY MY DRUM FOR YOU?” So the singer shouldn’t, either. I’d say a boys’ choir is about as energetic as the arrangement should get.
Yeah, I know. This is just another of those “J.K. has a pet peeve” columns. I readily admit it. But we all bemoan the commercialization of Christmas. We all want to feel the Christmas spirit without being hit over the head with some retailer’s corporate version of it.
Christmas should be a time of goodwill, generosity and fellowship. When I see those people stampeding into Wal-Mart and elbowing each other out of the way when the doors open on Black Friday, I cringe. I know a lot of you do, too.
Sure, everybody likes a bargain. But a mad dash to a flat-screen TV while trampling your fellow shoppers is hardly an expression of the values we are supposed to exhibit year-round and especially at Christmas.
So, all you fine retailers and merchants out there: Easy on “The Little Drummer Boy” this year, OK? I don’t know about the rest of you, but it’s driving me crazy.