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a christmas letter to clear channel

This is just a note to thank you for providing us with nonstop Christmas music during this month—and half of last month too!!!! More than the shopkeepers, cashiers, stockers, Wal-Mart greeters, more even than the Salvation Army bell-ringers who provide a convenient place for me to put loose change and gum wrappers—in this season of giving, you all are the true heroes.

Those naysayers who disparage the massive media conglomerates! Where is the love? May Santa bring them a stocking full of Elmo and Patsy CDs, and may they all be heartbreakingly scratched so as to prevent their hearing (and enjoying, of course) “Percy, the Puny Poinsettia.”

I couldn’t resist taking this opportunity to tell you what your programming has meant to me. Consider this an addition to the many well wishes you play during commercial breaks, which offer praise and thanks to Clear Channel for the constant Christmas carols which “help us get through the season.” I could not agree more; my adoration, however, cannot be contained in a sound bite. Hence this letter.

Here are just a few of the ways your programming has made a difference in my life:

It makes me laugh.

It is simply not possible to listen to that Chipmunk Christmas song too many times. That Alvin! Will he ever pay attention to what’s going on? I think not. Oh how I hope that cute little scamp finally gets his hula hoop this year.

The quaint “Feliz Navidad” makes me chuckle as I remember a kinder, gentler time in our nation’s history. Gone away is the melting pot, here to stay is immigrant scapegoating. “I wanna wish you a Merry Christmas”!?!? Then speak English, Jose Feliciano! Or should I call you Joe Phillips? Yes, I think I should.

It makes me cry.

OK, I’ll admit it, “Mary Did You Know” gets me going every time I hear it. But the waterworks don’t end there. When Bruce Springsteen asks his concert audience in the intro of “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” if they’ve been good, I hear the lackluster response, and my heart aches for the poor heathens who it seems have been very naughty indeed.

Band-Aid’s classic “Do They Know It’s Christmas” chokes me up for sheer historical reasons. The record raised millions for famine relief in Ethiopia and inaugurated the era of Big Benefit Records, and we’re all better for it. And when my beloved Bono sings, “Thank God it’s them instead of you,” you’d better believe I fall to my knees right then and there and thank the Almighty that someone else is starving to death instead of me. God bless those fluffy-haired British rockers.

It makes me think.

There are simply too many examples to name. Whether it’s the ecumenical issues at play in Barbra Streisand’s singing of “Ave Maria,” or the impact on the ant population if we did, in fact, live in a Marshmallow World, I find myself deep in contemplation again and again while listening to your program.

Perhaps the most thought-provoking song in your rotation is the soon-to-be-classic, “Where Are You Christmas?” Look, there’s a question right there in the title—you know right from the get-go that it’s going to give your puzzler a workout.

Existential queries abound in this one. For one, to whom is Faith Hill singing when she directly addresses “Christmas”? The baby Jesus? Why, he’s right there in his manger on the coffee table where he is every year. Santa Claus? He’ll be coming down the chimney without fail. The Platonic essence of Christmas? Well that just makes my brain hurt!

Further, what does it mean for one’s world to be “chee-anging”? Is that like “changing” but with more feeling? And what, exactly, is the singer “rearranging”? Garlands of tinsel?

These are just a few of the weighty questions the song poses, so I thank you for giving me the opportunity to ponder them every 74 minutes or so.

Well, I must sign off. I just know that any minute Maura Sullivan’s darling “Christmas Eve in Washington” will come on, and I must have my right hand free, for every time she sings “It's here that freedom lives, and peace can stand her ground,” I place said hand squarely over my heart. It’s the least I can do for the troops.

Yours sincerely… and Merry Christmas!

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