Paul  Kengor

That brings me back to Andy Williams. It’s funny the things you remember, but, in those days, there were only three or four stations on television: ABC, CBS, NBC, and maybe a PBS affiliate. At Christmas time, no one missed Bob Hope’s annual special on NBC. He did all sorts of skits and gags and musical renditions and terrific tributes to the troops—and presented the college football all-Americans. We would take time out from the kitchen—playing cards, Scrabble, or just talking—to watch Bob Hope.

But Bob Hope wasn’t the only one. Other big names did Christmas shows: Bing Crosby, Dean Martin, Loretta Young, Jimmy Durante and the Lennon Sisters, Lawrence Welk—and Andy Williams. Williams sang those songs, always accompanied by fake snow, pretty girls, lots of colors, sweaters, and glowing faces (click here and here and here and here).

Until September 25, 2012, Andy Williams was one of the only big names still alive from that genre. Remarkably, he had still been performing and was very active. In fact, he made the news not long ago for taking a shot at President Obama. He was not a supporter.

When I heard that Williams died, I began writing a tribute. I read the news the same day I happened to read this verse from Ecclesiastes: “One generation passes and another comes…. There is no remembrance of the men of old.”

That was fitting. I didn’t finish the article. Like much of America, I was preoccupied with less redeeming things—like politics and the 2012 election. We couldn’t pause to adequately remember this man of old. For that I am sorry.

But, just as fitting, the arrival of the holiday season corrected that. As Christmas time begins again, it does so—once again—with the voice of Andy Williams. We’re made mindful of what lasts. Andy Williams lasts. He makes us happy; politics doesn’t.

Andy Williams, rest in peace. And thanks for the memories this most wonderful time of the year.