So maybe I’m just getting old and snarky, but I find that one of my favorite Christmas-time pleasures is getting less and less enjoyable as the years go by. I chalk at least part of it up to being a word-nerd. I guess my hard-learned ability to analyze what I’m reading and hearing has come around to bite me in the you-know-what.
Each year I love listening to Christmas songs. We start the day after Thanksgiving, and I’ll admit that we’ve usually had our fill by the day after Christmas. Still, if you come to our home or get into our cars during those four intervening weeks, your ears will be assailed by various incarnations of A Very Special Christmas, Johnny Cash singing the classics, and even a fun Christmas album put out by The Squirrel Nut Zippers. (Yeah, we’re eclectic like that.)
But this year, I’ve started listening more closely to the words, and I’ve discovered that Christmas carols aren’t all sunshine and puppies. Here are a few examples:
Santa Baby – To be so brazenly flirting with an unattractive overweight man to get what you want is bad enough, but this guy is married. Find yourself another sugar daddy, you homewrecker! And at Christmas time, too. Shame, shame.
The Christmas Song – (You know, the “chestnuts roasting on an open fire” one.) Sure, “ninety-two” rhymes with “you,” but that sure seems like an arbitrary age to stop wishing people a merry Christmas. My grandma’s 95, so apparently she doesn’t warrant wishes for good cheer and all that from whomever is singing. That’s just ageism. The lady is ancient, and she deserves holiday wishes as much as those between one and ninety-two.
Baby, It’s Cold Outside – I’m pretty sure they’ve enacted laws against this type of behavior. “No” means “no” already. She’s given the guy every excuse she can come up with, including implicit threats that her brother and father are gonna kick the guy’s butt, but he still keeps pushing. If the girl had better self esteem, she’d kick him where it counts.
The Twelve Days of Christmas – The only reasonable performance of this song is for a grade-school Christmas pageant where you need to put a whole bunch of kids in cute costumes for their parents to photograph, but you don’t want to go to the effort of actually having to come up with a plotline. Otherwise, who ever, ever makes it all the way to the end of the song? Every year I discover that I pretty much have no idea what comes after “eight maids a-milking.”
O Holy Night – Actually, I think this song is really beautiful. The hyperbole is a bit much (since there are religions preceding Christianity, I assume the soul felt its worth before the whole baby-in-a-manger thing), but I love it anyway. It’s like someone wrote a love song about a day, and sung by the right person, it can pretty much reduce me to tears.
We Wish You a Merry Christmas – This one starts out nicely enough, but then they get to that whole “figgy pudding” part and ruin it all. First of all, figgy pudding sounds pretty awful. Secondly, to declare “we won’t go until we get some” is not only ungracious, it flies in the face of the Christmas spirit. Spoiled brats.
The Little Drummer Boy – I know this is kind of nit-picky (unlike all the things I’ve already said, right?), but the whole “then he smiled at me” thing is a crock. It takes a couple of months for a baby to smile; I know because I did everything short of standing on my head to try and get my own infant to give me some sort of non-verbal cue that her life didn’t completely suck. That said, it was the Baby Jesus, and considering the stories about him brining people back to life and healing the blind, I will admit that smiling early might not be completely out of the realm of his abilities.
Walking in a Winter Wonderland – Gee, I almost forgot to mention the one that broke my heart. When I first heard the song, I felt kind of sad for the snowman because the singer was only going to play with him “until the other kiddies come around.” Imagine how distraught I was when I heard the actual version and realized the danger wasn’t in being left alone, rather the words were “until the other kiddies knock him down.” Yeah, I cried when Frosty melted, too.
So, now that I’ve ensured my own smiting, I’ll close by saying that I hope you are all having a great Holiday Season, whether you celebrate Christmas, Yule, or some other winter holiday!