Mr. Christmas

by GARY FIGGINS, Editor & Publisher
It’s a somewhat fitting tribute to reflect upon Andy Williams during the holiday issue as nothing is more synonymous with the season than the music of Mr. Christmas.

The closest I ever came to meeting him was in 1995 when my wife and I sat in the audience during this first Christmas show of the season. We had been married a whole three days and were spending our honeymoon in Branson. We were probably 20 years younger than the next youngest couple in the audience, something that went unnoticed until Andy turned the spotlights on the audience to recognize those celebrating birthdays and milestone anniversaries. Amid the applause for silver and diamond anniversaries, Andy half-jokingly asked if there were any newlyweds in attendance. It was only as we stood that I noticed the age difference, and it was surprisingly only a little embarrassing when those around us applauded. Maybe it was because that theatre full of people knew what was in store for the years to come.

As we filed out of the giant room with a couple thousand of our closest friends, it was impossible to ignore the onset of Christmas fever, and we listened to holidays songs for the majority of the next two months.

Nothing sets the mood for the season like the familiar carols and classics, and there has never been—nor will there ever be—a voice that imparts the distinctive holiday sound like Andy Williams’. Seventeen years later, the soundtrack of that night’s performance is the first Christmas music that is played in our house as we decorate the tree Thanksgiving weekend. While the audience that evening may have been a years older than us, Andy’s voice appealed to all generations. Scrooge, himself, may have staved off his late-night visitors had he only been able to listen to Andy sing “It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” or “Do You Hear What I Hear?”

Since that November night, Kim and I have attended a number of Christmas concerts, albeit the majority of those concerts have featured our kids and their friends in school and church musicals. With Lily moving into middle school and Matthew preparing for high school, those Christmas programs will soon become a thing of the past. While the stages on which those performances took place may not have been as elaborate as the one on which Andy sang so long ago, they still quite effectively ushered in the holidays, for music will always be the universal constant of the Christmas season.