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'American Idol' Daily: the Idol Christmas invasion

December 9, 2008 |  5:30 pm

While the commercialization of Christmas has been decried since probably before there was a Christmas (ancient tablets reveal Hammurabi spouting off about the soullessness of the lines at the marble cylinder stores every year before the Shamash festival day), less has been said about the actual ownership of Christmas — a sacred duty that has passed from cultural icon to cultural icon throughout the history of western civilization.

For years, modern Christmas was under the custody of its inventor, Charles Dickens, who dreamed up the season-of-goodwill gag in his smash hit "A Christmas Carol."  Since then the caretaking duties have passed hand-to-hand from Bing Crosby to the cast of "Miracle on 34th Street" to "Peanuts" to the NCAA. 

But now it appears that in its public expression at least, Christmas has become the wholly owned property of one little television juggernaut. Everywhere you look across the holiday landscape, there is an Idol alumni releasing a Christmas album or performing a Christmas concert. Idol alum Christmas tours crisscross the nation. No town square can illuminate its tree without an Idol on hand to pull the switch.   

All in all, it makes sense that custody of America's favorite holiday would fall into the hands of its No. 1 show. While "Idol" is often decried by its foes as a harbinger of civilization's imminent collapse, it is in fact, rather than the shape of things to come, a last look at what has been. Its format — a singing contest — dates back at least to the dawn of television and probably to the first days when a few people perched on rocks to shriek at masses huddling in caves. "American Idol" stands as the last outpost of what was once known as family programming: television shows designed for multiple generations to gather around and gape at campfire-like. (Working as an Idolwatcher, the comment one most commonly hears is, "It's the only show I can watch with my entire family.") 

And while "Idol" roughly falls under the "reality TV" label, its singing competition really is of another breed, a gentler time than an era of bug eating and hair-pulling programming.

And there is also the religious element, as noted in my last post. (Thanks to the many commenters who overwhelmingly, if not unanimously, stood behind Jason Castro's public expression of his faith).

"Idol" has actually been making a play for the Christmas crown since its earliest days. The show's one and only standalone, off-season special was a gigantic Christmas pageant (featuring this unpredented of all champions trio rendition of "You'll Never Walk Alone").

So here is wishing you a merry season of no eliminations ... where no Idol's journey ever ends.

Some "American Idol" Christmas highlights after the jump.

- On Dec. 13, Jason Castro and Patti LaBelle will share the stage for An American Christmas in Garland, Texas.

- Season 2's Josh Gracin and Season 6's Phil Stacey took the stage together Sunday for an acoustic country holiday show.

- New Christmas singles are available from Ramiele Mulabay ("We Are One"), Michael Johns ("Another Christmas") Kimberley Locke ("We Need a Little Christmas") and  Bucky Covington ("Santa Claus Is Coming to Town").

- Christmas albums include a re-release with new songs of Clay Aiken's "All Is Well" and Mandisa's "It's Christmas."

- At least one full-fledged Christmas tour.

- Two turtledoves and an Idol lighting the Christmas tree outside a city hall near you.

Only 37 days to Season 8!

— Richard Rushfield