Way back on Nov. 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 play in one day. So much of the WASH playlist is composed of rock-era standards that celebrate the bells and the trees and the sleigh pulled by reindeer. "Jingle Bell Rock" and "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" seem like they're scheduled hourly, followed by "Frosty the Snowman" and "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town."
On Twitter, conservative Casey Mattox wrote that these festivities shouldn't start before Thanksgiving and then noted that Catholics lecture, "Well, actually, Christmas BEGINS on Dec. 25. You're thinking of Advent." He then joked that these people are fussy and didactic, saying, "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 Dec. 25 is nigh. While WASH-FM will go back to its mellow, middle-of-the-road pop music at about noon on Christmas, Catholics celebrate the 12 days of Christmas (starting at the birth of Christ and ending on the feast of the Epiphany), or continue 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 "O 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 public schools, with many bans in the name of "tolerance" and "inclusion." Even the secular songs about a "winter wonderland of snow" are considered microaggressions.
Some are still active with macroaggressions. The Satanic Temple bought billboards in Dallas, Houston and Miami during the holidays to promote its "religious abortion ritual" to "sanctify the abortion process." One billboard mock-up apparently shows a woman holding up a tiny 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 a challenge. Can we try harder to live up to the idea of peace on Earth, goodwill 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 Bing Crosby song, "The Secret of Christmas." Secular and religious themes combine into a very condensed sermon in the lyrics: "So may I suggest the secret of Christmas/ Is not the things you do at Christmastime/ But the Christmas things you do all year through."