This is a 100 percent true Christmas story:
Several Decembers ago, I staggered out of Macy's at the Streets of Southpoint Mall in Durham, and with a loud, dispirited sigh plopped down onto a bench.
A man on another bench heard and asked if I was tired from shopping too much.
No, I told him, I was fleeing that insufferable song on the store's sound system that was assailing shoppers inside Macy's - Please Come Home For Christmas by The Eagles.
That's what sent him out there, too, he admitted.
Now, the Eagles are one of my favorite high school-era bands - as long as they stay in their lane. Life in the Fast Lane or One of These Nights?
But listening to Don Henley with his tinny voice trying to go note for note with Charles Brown's original Please Come Home for Christmas?
Why, I'd rather eat a dead possum fried in turpentine. Or drink some low fat egg nog.
Speaking of which, the difference between the two songs is like the difference between low fat egg nog and real egg nog spiked with top-shelf cognac.
Christmas is indeed the most wonderful time of the year, rivaled only, if at all, by the ACC Basketball Tournament. People at Christmastime and during the ACC Tournament become nice for a couple of weeks and may even smile at strangers - at least until their alma mater loses.
The only bad part about the holiday is the music, much of which serves only to make us wish for New Year's Day.
There are, to be sure, Christmas songs one may never tire of. Here are mine:
●This Christmas by Donnie Hathaway
●Please Come Home for Christmas by Charles Brown
●Daddy Looked a Lot Like Santa (Or Santa Looked a Lot Like Him by Buck Owens.
●Silent Night by The Temptations. (Growing up in Rockingham, it wasn't Christmas for real until you went in the poolroom and pushed B-19 on the jukebox and heard Dennis Williams, the Temptations' lead singer, go 🎵In my miiiind...🎵)
Conversely, there are songs that should never be unleashed upon an unsuspecting listener's ears: Think Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer assaults or Tiny Tim's Santa Claus Has Got the AIDS This Year.
My favorite channel on Sirium/XM radio - Soul Town - has been playing Christmas music exclusively since Thanksgiving, which means the only Otis Redding song you're going to get is "White Christmas."
Otis's version is astonishingly good, but sometimes a bloke just has to hear These Arms of Mine. Right, fellas?
Christmas is usually a time to put politics aside, but this is real talk, yo: I'm willing to cut our besieged president a whole bunch of slack - and buy him a tie that fits - if he'll do one thing guaranteed to make the world a better place. We all know how much he hates signing executive orders, but he'll have a fan for life if he'll sign one:
●prohibiting anyone from ever again remaking Please Come Home for Christmas or This Christmas.
● heavily fining anyone not named Nat Cole or Mel Torme who sings The Christmas Song.
● putting a time limit on how long Mariah Carey or the latest all-hat, no-cattle country sensation can stretch out "Sahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh-lent Night" when he puts out his inevitable Christmas album after being runner up on season 89 of American Idol.
(Anything by the late Luther Vandross can be grandfathered in, since Luther had a way of elongating every song he ever touched. Luther died in 2005, but somewhere, two basketball teams are still waiting for his version of The National Anthem to end so they can actually start the game.)
● imprisoning the next deejay who plays Santa Claus has Got the AIDS This Year.
Thank you, Mr. President, and in the immortal words of Otis Redding "May yo' day be merry and bright."