We have been ready exterior the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen in Homeland earlier than the annual Vacation Brass live performance in 2013 when the idea struck: What would an NCAA basketball tournament-type bracket of Christmas carols appear like?
We began brainstorming, blurting out tune names and deciding the place they may be seeded or whether or not — like so many groups from mid-major conferences every March — their bubble would burst.
Inside 24 hours, after lots of laughter and a few debate, our household — my spouse, Jeanne; our youngsters, Matt and Katie; and I — had constructed a 32-team area headlined by No. 1 seeds Pleasure To The World, O Come All Ye Devoted, The First Noel and The Christmas Music.
The Smolka Household Christmas Carols Bracket has since turn into an anticipated vacation custom, with every matchup voted on by household and mates after the sector is revealed on a “choice present” modeled after the CBS “March Insanity” normal.
Voting is open for roughly three days per spherical, with the champion introduced on Christmas Eve.
That first yr, Pleasure To The World nosed out O Come All Ye Devoted for the title. Pleasure To The World repeated the sounding pleasure with one other title in 2014 however misplaced within the last the following yr to O Holy Evening.
Throughout that first choice present, 13-year-old Matt, sporting a sportcoat and vacation tie in our impromptu kitchen “studio” because the chair of the choice committee, gained newfound respect for the duty of the basketball committee every March.
The host of the choice present, who seemed loads like me, grilled Matt: “Do You Hear What I Hear (is) a 4 seed. Little Drummer Boy (is) a 3 seed. They performed final yr, and Do You Hear What I Hear gained and but they nonetheless are a decrease seed. How do you rationalize that?”
Sounding like each basketball choice committee chair ever, Matt stated with out hesitation that Little Drummer Boy “had a tougher schedule,” noting that it had crushed a 1 seed (The First Noel) within the earlier yr’s match.
In faculty basketball, groups attempt to construct a powerful RPI (Rankings Proportion Index) to burnish their match profile. On this area, Matt defined, the committee values a powerful CPI (Church Reputation Index) or MHI (Mall Hear Index).
After a layoff of some years, the bracket is again with Katie, an eighth-grader on the College of the Cathedral, succeeding Matt as choice chair.
In a transfer that generated some warmth for the choice committee, the match underwent a secular shift this yr, with one half of the bracket reserved for non-religious songs and the opposite aspect restricted to non secular songs.
“It’s actually a special look from after I was the committee chair,” Matt, who attended Loyola Blakefield and is now a freshman on the College of Notre Dame, stated on the choice present. This being 2020, he joined through Zoom (albeit from upstairs).
“However I assist the concept of giving totally different genres of songs better illustration within the bracket,” he added. “It’s actually a giant step for the committee to take.”
That resulted in a completely loaded South area that includes O Holy Evening, Hark The Herald Angels Sing and O Come All Ye Devoted — all former No. 1 seeds.
Katie, fielding one other widespread query of the committee, hinted that enlargement may very well be coming — excellent news to Let It Snow and Twelve Days of Christmas, bubble groups who might solely hope for a Christmas carols NIT (Nationwide Invitational Event in faculty basketball parlance) someplace.
At Christmas Eve Mass just a few years in the past, it turned evident how a lot the bracket has turn into a part of our vacation season. Within the sanctity of the Mass, Jeanne — a former faculty basketball participant at Johns Hopkins College —nudged me together with her elbow as she pointed to a tune within the hymnal.
“Hey,” she whispered, “did they make the bracket?”
Copyright © 2020 Catholic Assessment Media