Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Eight Questionable Christmas Songs

Christmas is coming, and I have been spending an inordinate amount of time in my car driving from one place to the other, frantically trying to keep ahead of the flurry of activity that always precedes this great and all-consuming holiday.  As I cruise from one place to the next, I do it with the background sounds of Christmas music humming from my radio.

And with almost a month of Christmas music filling my ears, I have come to the conclusion that that some of these songs are really problematic for various reasons.  My short list of questionable songs that I'm listening to this Christmas:

Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.  Not only does this song outline the events that led up to Grandma’s untimely demise that include her wandering outside after too much eggnog, it mentions the fact that her spouse is not so broken up about her death but that he spends the time after her passing playing card games and probably gambling as well.  The bouncy tune belies the fact that we are talking about a bizarre and tragic accident within a family who has obvious alcohol and gambling issues, as well as a callousness that is highlighted by the mere mention about what to do with Grandma’s gifts.  I’m sorry, but if one of my elderly relatives was killed by a reindeer, what to do with her unopened Chantilly powder and new flannel nightie would be the last thing on my mind.  I refuse to sing along no matter how exuberant this song seems.

Another Auld Lang Syne.  This song is admittedly one of my favorites, except for the fact that it paints a picture of two long-ago lovers meeting coincidentally and sharing some beers in her car.  She drives off after half a six-pack, leaving our narrator standing alone reminiscing about the past and reflecting on what might have been.  Hello, drunk driving.  Not cool anytime, but especially not at the holidays.  This song should be called Another DUI.

Baby, It’s Cold Outside.  A portrait of a young romantic couple parting for the evening; she needs to leave, he’s convincing her to stay.  Each time she gives a reason to leave (I’ve got to go home, my mother will start to worry, there’s bound to be talk tomorrow) he tries to trap her using fear, flattery, and guilt tactics (Oh, baby, you’ll freeze out there, your eyes are like starlight now, what’s the sense of hurting my pride?).   More drinks are poured, she wonders if she’s been drugged (say, what’s in this drink?), and I’m left thinking “NO MEANS NO, CREEP!  RUN GIRL, RUN!!!!”

I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.  Imagine being a child and spying to see what Santa brought you for Christmas, only to see your mother getting it on with ol’ St. Nick. Do you tell Dad?  Confront Mom?  On Christmas morning?  Not likely.  This poor kid probably stayed up all night simultaneously worrying about divorce and thinking about what life will be like at the North Pole, where all his friends would be elves.

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.  The line I find most problematic is with the telling of scary ghost stories along with the tales of the glories of long-ago Christmas celebrations.  Sorry, but scary ghost stories aren’t really what I’d call Christmas-appropriate.  Who are these people anyway?  How do ghost stories define a good time, let alone the Most Wonderful Time?  Wrong holiday, folks.  It’s Christmas, not Halloween.

Do They Know It’s Christmas?  This song seems to be in the right frame of Christmas spirit-mindedness, with its emphasis on reminding people to still care for those who suffer in the world, even at Christmas.  I imagine the songwriters wanted to establish empathy and a sort of philanthropic feel to this song, what with the urge to pray for those whose holiday is marred by fear and bitterness.  Then they throw in the line “Well tonight thank God it’s them instead of you” and all semblance of charity is thrown out the window.  Is this what celebrities really think of us common folk?  What a bunch of jerks.

Here Comes Santa Claus.  This song ramps up the excitability of Christmastime for kids who anxiously await the presence of Santa in their homes each Christmas Eve.  But I can’t help wonder if the songwriters were having a little spiritual dilemma when writing this song.  Were they having trouble reconciling the fact that the emphasis on Santa might be taking away from celebrating Christ’s birth?  “Hey guys, all this talk about Santa.  Could we throw in something about God too, so we’re not alienating the Christian community? How about adding this line: ‘Santa knows that we’re God’s children, that makes everything right.’  That should appease them.”  What does this make right?  The fact that parents are lying to their children about where their presents come from, the fact that Jesus is often brushed aside to focus on Santa, or that we are teaching our children that one day a year it’s okay if a stranger breaks into our homes?

The 12 Days of Christmas.  If my true love gave all this crap to me, I’d have a hard time finding any use for any of it except for the Five Gold Rings.  The rest is just a bunch of farm animals and servants.  Who’s going to pay these people to do their jobs after the holidays are over?  What a terrible gift.  I need eight maids a-cleaning, not milking, at Christmastime.  I would seriously question if true love was worth it if all these people and animals showed up at my house through the holidays.



  1. They really are kind of awful, aren't they? Perhaps I can offer a small bit of redemption for the 12 Days, though. Legend says that the song was created as a form of "catechism" to teach tenets of Christianity during some period when Christians/Catholics were being persecuted or forbidden to doso. Nice, right? However...for as many places you can find info about what the Christian symbolism is, you can find an equal number that discounts the whole thing as legend. Either way, I think it gives it a nicer place in the music roster than simply the Christmas version of "99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall." Ugh.

    1. I like knowing that there was a method to this madness. A friend of mine explained that the 12 days indicated the 12 days leading up to the Epiphany, which starts on December 25 and ends on January 6. So our whole process of prepping for Christmas as the big shebang on December 25 is misguided - we should start on December 25 and go until January 6. Which personally just makes me tired at this point.

  2. Your friend is right - at least by what I was taught, anyway. But we get so worn out because we are blasted with Christmas from about Halloween on and the media and society tell us that prepping equalls shopping and the whole truth of it - the theological truth - is lost in the shuffle. This is why I refuse to even think Christmas until after Thanksgiving and after December actually begins. The only real sad part for me is the stations that have stopped playing Christmas music as of midnight on Christmas Day - it's only begun, not already over! The Valentine's Day stuff is on store shelves already. Please stooooooop!

    1. I feel the same way about the Christmas music. I like to enjoy it after the crazy ends. And really - Valentine's day already?

  3. ...actually 364 gifts