Holiday musical

Hendry Park Elementary School music teacher Rebecca Thompson leads her second grade classes in a holiday number during the school’s Christmas concert Tuesday night.

It was a classic Sunday afternoon: I was on the way home from the store after running to town to pick up a couple last-minute items for dinner.

While flipping through the radio dial to try to find the Colts game on FM radio instead of that scratchy AM channel out of Fort Wayne, the search function landed on a station playing Christmas music.

Here we were, just days beyond Halloween, if memory serves, and there was a station out of Fort Wayne already playing Christmas music, 24 hours a day, someone would announce, through the holidays.

Don’t get me wrong; I enjoy Christmas music. And this year it has provided, at times, a much-needed respite from the impeachment hearings that even a political junkie can tire of.

That same week as my discovery, I was riding somewhere with Rollie and I punched the button for the Christmas station (yes, I saved it to my presets). The Rollie Man is big into his music and we enjoyed singing along together as we made our way through Angola.

“Mike, you like Christmas music,” asked the youngster who no doubt believed I only listened to that boring National Public Radio. (Rollie is a WMEE fan and claims he knows all the songs they play.)

So, on our trips to the store or the ride home from school often have been filled with Christmas music from 95.1. One day, while I stepped outside the car for a brief moment, I returned to hear Rollie say, “Hey, Mike, there’s another Christmas station.”

Lo and behold Rollie found another station out of Fort Wayne that plays nothing but Christmas. And, of course, Rollie figured out how to preset channels, so now the two Christmas stations are sandwiched around WMEE; thank goodness he didn’t mess up 89.1, my NPR station.

For weeks, now, we will be heading to the school bus or the store or our way home from school and Rollie — after he hears the voice of one of the NPR news persons — will flip on one of the Christmas stations. If he doesn’t like what he hears, he flips to the other.

And I start singing along. Rollie will do one of two things: Typically he’ll say, in his condescending, 9-year-old voice, “Myyy-eeeeek!” (That’s a long, drawn out Mike, by the way.) Or he will start singing along with me, and if I lay down a line with a particular amount of vibrato, here will come the “Myyy-eeeeek” again. (I secretly think Rollie is jealous of my singing voice. Or not.)

I assumed by now I would tire of Christmas music, between the radio in my car and every store, commercials on television, holiday specials and so on.

Then there came the Christmas Concert (they still use the word “Christmas” in public school programs?) at Rollie’s school. The first- through third-graders would all be lined up, belting out the holiday favorites in an animated fashion that can only be enjoyed live.

Can you imagine lining up more than 100 children and expecting something coherent to come out of it? Well, I have to hand it to Rebecca Thompson at Hendry Park Elementary School, she herded these cats so well; she was in total control and the program went off without a hitch. (She must have the patience of Job.)

Of course, Thompson pulled out of her hat songs you will rarely if ever hear on the radio, no matter how many presets you have programmed in your car. That included one alt-Rudolph number that was in the hip-hop genre, I would say. There must be a special holiday songbook geared toward elementary school music classes.

Anyway, I came away on that chilly Tuesday night not so tired of Christmas music. Then again, smiling, arm-waving, jumping-up-and-down, innocent children singing is always wonderful. Throw in the joy of Christmas and you have something special.

michael marturello is editor of the The Herald Republican. He can be reached at

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