On New Year’s Day, it seems appropriate to look over your shoulder, and then look ahead. So we shall.
After our church’s congregation muddled through a beautiful, yet obscure, hymn on Christmas Eve, someone sitting in front of me said she was glad at least one person knew it. It happened that I did.
Since childhood, I have been immersed in Christmas music. While a member of a boys choir in North Carolina for six years, I would start in September memorizing dozens of Christmas songs for our busiest performance period of the year – the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Some of those selections were really obscure selections. Most of them were from the classical era, a few even in Latin, French or Italian.
With that background, it may not be a surprise that I don’t mind at all when people get an early start on the holidays. I figure that Mary and Joseph must have been getting ready for it for about nine months themselves.
We have several fine radio stations in Brownwood, but they typically don’t drown their listeners in Christmas music as much as I might like. I’ve compensated by gathering more CDs of Christmas music than I can ever listen to during one season, some of which might be considered obscure, too.
Even so, I still can’t hear too often old standbys like “Joy to the World,” “O Little Town of Bethlehem” and “Silent Night.” And I’m always a bit disappointed at the end of the season to look back and realize that I didn’t get to sing one or two of my well-known favorites.
That is a large part of the fascination we have with Christmas. So much of this special season is unshakable routine. The traditions, the decorations, the foods, the activities and even the music are all constants. Inevitability, though, we arrive at Dec. 25 as different people than we were before. But because we have Christmas as a constant, we can reflect on each succeeding holiday with new vision. Each season is a milepost where we can measure those changes, and watch memories accumulate as our journey through life goes on.
Plus, it is the overriding presence of a divine constant – the savior born in Bethlehem – who is at the core of the true Christmas celebration.
Now it’s a week after Christmas, and the calendar has turned a page forward…
Dallas Huston – the voice of the Brownwood Lions, the voice of the Howard Payne Yellow Jackets, the voice of the Howard Payne Lady Jackets, Baptist preacher, Monday night men’s prayer leader, member of several sports halls of fame, subject of Texas Monthly and Texas Country Reporter coverage, popular banquet emcee and an all-round good guy – has a Sunday morning radio broadcast. On it, he talks about sports personalities who use their positions to profess their Christian faith. I know it was far from the point of his program, but Dallas opened his show last Sunday with a welcome and a question about the new year: Are we going to call it “two thousand ten” or simply “O-10” (that’s to say, letter O, then numeral 10)?
I was so wrapped up in that question I almost missed the first couple of minutes of Dallas’ profile of a volleyball player at the University of Oklahoma. I happen to have an opinion on this, and at the risk of repeating myself for I don’t know how many times since the end of 1999, here’s what I think.
Why change something’s that worked for us for – oh I don’t know – a thousand years? I was born in the 20th century, as probably the majority of you were, and all I ever knew until 10 years ago was “nineteen-ninety” or “nineteen-sixty-eight.” George Orwell even wrote a book titled “Nineteen Eighty-Four,” and he wrote it in “nineteen-forty-nine.” After the year “two-thousand,” it was time to revert to the way we’ve done it for centuries. Surely in 1901 they didn’t call it “one-thousand-nine-hundred-O-one,” or even “nineteen-hundred-O-one.” So, this new year should be “twenty-ten,” and that’s the way it should have been since “twenty-O-one.”
Numerologists might prefer, for this one day, to make it “01-01-10.” I’ll grant them that. It’s still the holidays, you know.
After having to endure this “two-thousand” business for 10 years, I fear there’s a possibility I may have to take it for yet another 10 years. But I predict that by the time another decade has passed, my “twenty-whatever” will have become the preferred method of counting years. Who will be able to resist proclaiming, “It’s twenty-twenty”?
But let’s not begin the new year in a spirit of animosity. However you chose to say it, have the happiest year ever.
Gene Deason is editor of the Brownwood Bulletin. His column appears on Friday. He may be reached by e-mail at gene.