There’s one holiday song I can never hear too early.
It just so happens to be a local access TV commercial.
I’m from Phillipsburg, New Jersey, which sits on the state line with Pennsylvania. For as long as I can remember, my parents have been customers of Service Electric Cable TV & Communications, a modest cable company based in Bethlehem, Lehigh County.
And man, do these folks know how to make a Christmas jingle.
There’s not much about the commercial’s origins online, but from what I can find, it seems it was first released in 2009. Service Electric General Manager Ryan Kelly appears to be the mastermind, with five others credited in some way, too.
The song itself, as the kids say, “goes off.” It’s got an Amy Grant vibe, with a keyboard played on a setting that reminds me of every song I ever heard on my mom’s favorite adult contemporary radio stations in the ’90s.
The lyrics read like a Christmas card, but unlike other local jingles, this one has heartfelt lyrics that flow effortlessly.
“There’s a star in the sky tonight, so here’s my wish for you, that every Christmas dream you have, will certainly come true.
“That your world is filled with laughter, and no matter where you roam, a Lehigh Valley Christmas will bring you back home.”
“Come on home for Christmas, with Service Electric Cable TV. Let the spirit of love surround you, and celebrate the season in harmony.
“Merry Christmas, and warmest wishes, too. Service Electric Cable TV sends our best to you.”
The commercial footage itself is as if every Hallmark Christmas movie was put in a blender, down to a blonde woman in a Santa hat greeting her sailor as he gets off a bus. (And, like Hallmark, the casting lacks in diversity.) But for me, it’s never been about the visuals — it’s always been about the song.
My friend Johnny also knows all the words. I hear the commercial, and I’m transported to a cold December morning outside our high school waiting for the homeroom bell to ring, singing the song in unison, goofing off to pass the time.
I’ll hear it again, and I’m in my parents’ living room with my dad, watching the annual Phillipsburg-Easton football game — one of the longest-running high school rivalries in the country. It airs, of course, on Service Electric, and usually marks the first time I hear the commercial in the holiday season. Every year, when Phillipsburg scores its initial first down, Dad and I have a little whiskey. I like to think it makes my singing of the Service Electric song even better.
And, I’ll hear the song once more, and I’m holding back tears in my first Lancaster apartment — about to spend one of my first holidays away from my parents post-college — and moved that my dad recorded the Service Electric commercial and emailed it to me so I could hear it from 100 miles away.
So, whatever holiday song makes you feel warm and fuzzy, take this as your sign to let it play and wash over you this week. I hope you and your loved ones stay happy and healthy throughout this week’s Thanksgiving celebrations.
And hey, can we get a Lancaster version of this Christmas jingle? If you missed it on LancasterOnline, a shot of downtown Ephrata was used in several Hallmark movies airing now on the channel, so we’ve got plenty of material.
I know at least one willing, though unskilled, vocalist.
Jenelle Janci is LNP’s Life & Culture team leader. “Unscripted” is a weekly entertainment column produced by a rotating team of writers.