Pre-Season

The audiobook I was listening to was, frankly, a little creepy. A tale of hidden worlds and creatures with formidable powers. It was not really a book I would normally choose. But the reviews were strong on the website where I purchased it. And since I was a monthly subscriber, I had my pick of two books each month. So even if I went wrong, I really couldn’t go very wrong.

I decided to switch to a different form of entertainment. My CD player wasn’t loaded, so I opted for the radio. At 4 a.m. on a Saturday morning on a backroad in West Texas, I didn’t have a lot of options. So I listened to country music and farm reports until the sun came up.

At that point, I opted for silence. Of course, now that I’m older I’m never blessed with complete silence. The tinnitus that plagues me projects a high-pitched squeal in my ear that only gets louder as other noise lessens. As I drove through the outlying communities north of Austin, I punched up the radio again and sent it searching for a station. I had to deaden the incessant ringing.

More country and western — not something I dislike, but I wanted something a bit more mellow. It was 7:15 a.m. and I bounced from hip-hop to country to talk radio.

And then, I heard a more classical tone. I brought the volume up and realized that I knew the song. Not by name. Yet it was undeniably the anthem of champagne makers where, in the television commercials, the clinking of glasses emit the sound of bells. You know it, don’t you? LAAA, LA, LA, LA. LAAA, LA, LA, LA. (Don’t laugh, I sing no better than I write.)

Convinced that I was hearing an ad, I settled back. And, the truth be known, I’ve always liked this particular song. But there were no words. And in a few moments, the announcer had given the time and the temperature and the next song was a Christmas song as well.

After about 15 minutes, I realized I had discovered an “All Christmas – All the Time” station. It was November 15. Immediately, I thought of the protest emails I had sent one of our local stations when they went all Christmas on December 1. Who in their right mind would want to listen to Christmas music for four, five, or six solid weeks — or more?

I punched “seek” again and rolled through my choices. Eventually, the radio bumped back into “The First Noel.” And I left it there. And for the next song. And the next.

As I threaded my way through increasing traffic, I found the familiar holiday fare to be uplifting. There was no association with long lines at retailers or heartburn over what to give that special some one. Instead, it was light and uplifting music that brought back memories and instilled hope.

Funny, isn’t it, how things that are so pleasurable can come to be burdens because of the context? Perhaps its because we choose to immerse ourselves in the challenging and difficult rather than allow something good to lift us.

So, no emails to radio stations this year. A pledge to listen to more Christmas music. And a promise to myself to allow the good to do good in my life.

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