San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

December 24th, 2010
The Weekend: Lights, music (as always) and a Merry Christmas


The Trail of Lights at the EmilyAnn Theatre will be open through the holidays for all your holiday light-gazing needs.

Scene Editor

The tad bit of poetry that each and every person gets all year may be from Christmas carols. Whether you like it or not, Christmas carols are ubiquitous in the grocery store, the mall, the television, the bars and just about anywhere else you go.

You can complain about this all you like, but the fact remains that Christmas, at least in retail establishments, starts early, assaulting us with decorations, present ideas, wrappings and those songs. We say, don’t fight it any longer. Just give in to it and belt out those songs.

What other holiday can you think of where it is permissible to sing along with the background music just about anywhere with relative impunity? Other folks may actually join in singing with you. It makes you feel good to carry a tune, whether you are particularly gifted or not. It’s not the talent this time of year. It’s the spirited sheer pleasure of the song.

A closer examination of Christmas carols yields up some fine and touching poetry. “O Little Town of Bethlehem” has lovely deep lyrics, and who doesn’t know Martin Luther’s famous “Away in a Manger”? And you’ll be singing catchy tunes, many of which have been passed down for hundreds of years. In the case of a carol like “In the Bleak Midwinter,” you are singing a poem by Christina Rossetti with music by Gustav Holz. Pretty nice pedigree.

As you sing these songs, you’ll be amazed at how many song lyrics your memory has retained. It’s a tribute to the potential of the human brain that so much is treasured there. Even if you despise the overt commercialism of Christmas, you surely cannot blame the songs. There is nothing commercial about them. Well, not until some ad wit changes the lyrics to contain a store name or a bargain.

Christmas shows the sheer power of music. Music is not just a “soundtrack” for life. It’s a privilege of the human voice and a drive to make lovely or compelling sounds. The birds may be chatting or scolding or searching for food but, every once in a while, you’ll hear them singing just for the pure pleasure of it. Even the elements of the universe, the stars, the planets, make music. It’s an important part of life.

Of course, often the birds are singing to impress the chicks. This isn’t really so far from human behavior.

At any rate, do not fear to sing out at this festive season. What is Christmas without music? It’s a nice dinner and some presents. Just not the same without the tunes expressing the day’s deeper meanings. Even if the dinner isn’t so great and the presents are mostly socks and underwear, it’s the Christmas carols that buoy the day.

Don’t limit your singing to church, now. Break out and sing at home, in the car, in the grocery store. Life is short. You need to sing.

Of course, if you would rather leave the singing to others this weekend, there are plenty of folks who will do that for your enjoyment. There are lights to gaze in wonder at, also. Herewith a couple of suggestions if you need a breather from your family gathering — and who doesn’t once in a while? Of course, the schedule is a little lighter due to the holidays. We’re always happy to see folks get a day off.

Friday, December 24

Continuing its tradition of live music every day for the last 14 years, the Triple Crown (206 North Edward Gary) features the always appealing Mark Jungers for an early set at 6 p.m. Free juke box and free pool start at 8 p.m. There’s no cover to get in, and you can play your favorite non-Christmas songs, if you’ve a mind to.

The EmilyAnn Theatre’s (1101 FM 2325) Trail of Lights is open from 6-10 p.m. There are eight acres of lighted displays sponsored by more than 100 local businesses on which to clap your eyes. It’s a wonderful way to start out your holiday celebration. Admission is free, but a donation always helps with the electric bill.

There is no bingo tonight at the Wimberley VFW, but there will be on New Year’s Eve. We’ll mention it again next week. If the weather is good, they’ll have fireworks after the game, too.

Riley’s Tavern (8894 FM 1102) will be open tonight after 5 p.m., if you’d like to spend time in the historic roadhouse that was Texas’ first tavern after prohibition.

Some folks like to drive through Santa’s Ranch (Interstate-35 between Posey Road and York Creek Road). The fee is $20 per car and there are supposed to be more than one million lights with 100 displays and animations. You get to drive through in the comfort of your truck or car, so you can sing those carols as you ride along. The hours are 6-11 p.m. tonight for the mile-long cruise, which takes about 20 minutes.

Saturday, December 25

Merry Christmas to one and all. Of course, there are fun things on television to use as background to your festivities today. AMC is running Bill Murray in “Scrooged” all day in a continuous loop. TBS will run “A Christmas Story” in a loop. The Ovation network will run five, count’ em, five different ballet companies performing “The Nutcracker” today, including the Bolshoi Ballet, the Royal Ballet, the Berlin State Ballet, the modern stylings of Maurice Bejart and the refreshingly unusual Casse Noisette Circus with the Ballet of Monte Carlo.

If you feel the need to get out of the house, the Organics will be at the Triple Crown tonight. The band is a popular local favorite and they’re good sports to play on Christmas night to help brighten the spirits of holiday attendees. The rockin’ Van Sanchez will be there, too. What a great Christmas treat!

You could load up the car and head over to Santa’s Ranch to see the 50-foot tree of lights and drive through the “tunnels” of lights. The blue tunnel is pretty cool. You could get a little exercise after that big dinner and walk through the Trail of Lights at the EmilyAnn Theatre, as well.

Sunday, December 26

Before you try to return that “Old Fart” baseball cap your nephew gave you or that reindeer sweater from Aunt I-didn’t-know-what-to-get-you, you could stop by the Phoenix (193 San Antonio Street, New Braunfels) for Al Barlow’s Kwanzaa party. He’ll be playing music and makin’ with the jokes. No cover.

If you want a fun quick family trip, how about going to the Zweite Weihnachten (Second Christmas) Fest in Fredericksburg (312 San Antonio Street)? Refreshments, decorations, German music and a festival committed to keeping the German tradition of community gathering the day after Christmas runs from 2-4 p.m. Admission is free.

If Donald Fagen had been born in Beaumont instead of New Jersey, it’s possible that Steely Dan would sound more like Ezra Charles, who is playing at Gruene Hall today. Charles and his band have that jazzy rock sound, but there’s quite a bit of Texas grit in the mix. The band plays today from 4-8 p.m. No cover.

If you haven’t seen the lights at Santa’s Ranch or the EmilyAnn Theatre, they are both open tonight for sparkling Christmas magic.

The mics are open tonight at Riley’s and the Triple Crown, if all that singing has given you an urge for a career with it.

Tonight on NBC, the Philadelphia Eagles play the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikes will more than likely go on without Bret Favre and they may take a beating, but, who knows, at this stage of the game, what will happen. Should be interesting.

ABC carries on its traditional presentation of “The Sound of Music.”  BBC America features the musical “Oliver!”

Oh, there’s bound to be some Christmas leftovers, too. Sometimes the leftovers are as good as or better than the meal.

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