by Rosalind Bergen
December 15, 2009
The Carrie Underwood Christmas Special aired last week. I was looking forward to it. I put on my fuzzy slippers, dropped a couple of extra marshmallows into my hot cocoa, and snuggled up in front of the TV. I couldnt wait to hear her sing my favorite Christmas song, O Holy Night. I reached for the Kleenex box. One must be prepared for tears, especially when she hits that ever-famous note toward the end: Diviiiiiiiiiine. I was like a kid at Christmas, bursting with anticipation.
So, you can imagine my shock, sitting there on the floor in my living room, staring at the TV, mouth agape, at the opening of the Carrie Underwood Christmas Special: Miss Underwood rises from under the stage in a throne-like chair, smoke swirling and lights flashing. Shes clad in skin-tight, black leather from head to toe. I didnt know hair spray could get hair that high? I didnt know Christmas was about Carrie Underwood. Male dancers (wearing only pants yikes and matching, black leather, of course) flanked her on all sides. They all started dancing… err, more like flailing, all over the stage. The song she sang (though, is it technically a song if it lacks a discernable melody?) was no more a Christmas song than fruitcake is cake.
I grabbed the remote and hit OFF. Sigh. Speaking of fruitcake… I trot off to the kitchen. I figure Ill have better luck getting into the Christmas spirit with a slice of grandmas fruitcake. And thats not sayin much. Sorry, Grandma.
But, Christmas is about rejuvenation and re-birth, and last night, I got my second chance. I was on the treadmill at the gym, of all places, barely eeking out that first mile. (One too many marshmallows, apparently). There were about eight TVs on the wall, each broadcasting a different channel. Lets see, what can I watch to help me reach mile two? TV one: news. Pass. TV two: news. Pass. TV three: …whats this? I see a church sanctuary, brightly lit with candles and adorned with wreaths and garland. A gospel choir is swaying back and forth. I see Jennifer Hudson belting something out at a microphone. Could it be? I scrambled for my headset so I could listen. Theyre singing, Silent Night!
Alleluia! Throughout the next forty-five minutes, I was delighted by one traditional, Christmas carol after the next. No self-glorification or self-aggrandizement. No dance choreography. Not even any Rudolf. Only the beautiful singing of the old, great Christmas carols and hymns. Only the celebration of love, giving and family. At one point, during an interview before a song, Jennifer Hudson tells us, Jesus is the light of the world. Now this is a Christmas Special. I was invigorated. I looked down at my treadmills screen. Five miles?! I havent run five miles in at least five years! (Okay, a decade, at least).
Thank you, Jennifer Hudson, for producing an appropriate, traditional Christmas special. In an age where Christmas decorations are stripped from public buildings, and citizens are forced to take down nativity scenes displayed in their yards, I know I speak for many when I say, I appreciate you remembering Christ in Christmas. And thank you ABC (did I actually say that?) for your bravery in broadcasting Hudsons show. And P.S., Miss Hudson, the note you struck in Diiiiiiiiiivine, was far more beautiful than Carrie Underwoods ever could have been.