There is one Starbucks that I work at, and then there is my local Starbucks where I play the role of a regular customer. One recent evening I dropped by, got a beverage, and sat down among the nightly informal gathering of regulars. Someone started talking about the annual onslaught of Christmas TV specials and everyone chimed in about which ones we make a point to watch on an annual basis. Answers were typical, "It's a wonderful life," "Frosty," and "Rudolph," etc....
"A Charlie Brown Christmas" was on the other night. I always enjoyed it as a kid - it meant staying up an extra half hour, which was exciting itself. Even though it goes deep into the meaning of Christmas, along with the distractions of commercialization, it remains accessible to children. And as young as I was, I remember feeling really happy when the other kids decorated Charlie Brown's frail little tree. Just as happy as when Snoopy danced around. But I think the most magical moment of those broadcasts, for me, happened before the show even started. It was going to be a special show. And CBS would let you know that it was special when they ran a five-second striking animation at the beginning with the word "SPECIAL" spinning about the letter C in rainbow colors, with exciting 70s percussion and a blasting brass section. It would put a big smile on my face, and set the stage for what followed.
At first I didn't really think I had a Christmas TV tradition, but then I remembered - Letterman. Not anyone's typical choice; and no one I was chatting with that night knew what I was talking about. On his last show before Christmas- usually the 23rd - Dave's musical guest is always Darlene Love singing "Christmas: Baby Please Come Home." Letterman considers this the Best Rock'n'Roll Christmas Song, and I tend to agree. Darlene can still belt it out, Paul and the band accompanies, with an extra string section and a choir. And how they all enjoy performing and having fun. And they do it every year, and it's the same song, and it's beautiful. Not some forgettable new band playing some forgettable new song, passing thru town promoting a CD, as is the case on many nights. A tradition. Albeit, a four minute song, saved until the end of the broadcast, but so worth the anticipation. My God, do I berate myself the years I miss it! Dave's been doing this every year since 1986, but last year had to be a repeat of 1996 due to the writers strike, so this year, I'm even more eager to catch it. Then, about two-thirds through the song, the fake snow will start to fall, and I'll get that same happy feeling like I did with "CBS Special" intro. Kinda marks the end of the stress of the Christmas season, and the beginning of the enjoyment part.
Until then, I think I'll head to Starbucks, and buy myself a drink.