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Commentary: A very tuba Christmas

BY PATRICK BIGSBY | DECEMBER 10, 2009 7:30 AM

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This week’s snowfall is just one more reminder that the holiday season is right around the corner. Santa (or at the very least, a Santa impersonator) is encamped in the mall, and radio stations are exploring new techniques for aural torture with the help of “Jingle Bell Rock.” As if all these clues weren’t enough, the annual appearance of a migrating pod of tubas on the steps of the Old Capitol is imminent.

On Friday at noon, the tuba jamboree known to insiders as “Holiday Tubas” will give passersby the sound and the fury that can only originate from Christmas carols emanating from the bells of several dozen tubas. To the surprise of many, this event is not unique. Tubas gather en masse in hundreds of cities around the country in December to spread holiday cheer, a natural phenomenon usually known as (the fully trademarked) Tubachristmas.

But what, exactly, is the point of all this noise? To paraphrase Charlie Brown, isn’t there anyone who knows what Tubachristmas is all about?

Consider if you will, the tuba. The tuba is large, comical, and — outside of the occasional Wagnerian opera — rarely sighted in public. In short, the tuba is the instrumental equivalent of Santa Claus himself. No instrument could be more appropriate.

In addition, the tuba comes in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. Despite these obvious yet superficial differences, the tubas can still come together for the greater good of caroling — an inspiring holiday message of tolerance and collaboration if ever there were one. People of all backgrounds should follow this example of, in so few words, goodwill toward men.

Finally, remember the many other strange, deeply rooted traditions that reappear at this time of year. Most people wouldn’t normally attend an impromptu tuba-fest, but then again I imagine you’d have to be pretty hard-pressed to choke down a piece of fruitcake, wear a hideous handmade sweater, or buy your boss a present at any other time of the year. Tubas are just another one of those strange winter rituals.

So in between your tree-trimming and cookie-decorating duties, I invite you to fill a thermos with hot cocoa and attend one of the more tangible miracles of Christmas.

Happy Holiday Tubas, and to all a good night.


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