Now that Christmas songs and carols are blasting us in every store, office building, and restaurant, I could, as usual, gripe and pray for December 26th, but this year I decided to take a withering look at the lyrics and expose the speciousness and absurdity behind every jolly tune.
Jingle Bells. “Dashing through the snow / In a one-horse open sleigh.” How brilliant is it to travel in an open-air vehicle in the middle of winter? You won’t be “laughing all the way”—you’ll be shivering your asses off!
Santa Claus Is Coming to Town. “He’s making a list … He’s gonna find out who’s naughty or nice.” Come on, Santa, fess up. You like ʼem naughty, don’t you, you filthy old pervert! But I understand. It’s cold and dark up north—just you and the elves. But some of those elves can be pretty foxy, viz., Liv Tyler in Lord of the Rings. Of course, there’s Mrs. Claus. But wait a minute! How do we know there is a Mrs. Claus? Do we ever see this woman? Maybe Santa made her up to look legit? Meanwhile, he’s busy shacking up with some elfin chick (or dude). “I’m Santa Claus! I’m family-friendly! I’m everybody’s grandpa! Here, kid, have some Coke!”
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Here’s a tale of abuse if I’ve ever heard one. The reindeer are, like, calling Rudolph names. “You’re a weirdo, a loser! We despise you! Stay out of our games!” Then on a foggy Christmas night, Santa is kvetching, “How am I gonna drive my sleigh in this crap? Hold on… What about that one reindeer, the freak with the shiny nose? Let’s get him to pilot the caravan.” Sure, suddenly all the reindeer love him, now that he’s eminently exploitable! Rudolph should just say, “Screw all of you! I’m gonna go over to the other side with Jesus. He’ll treat me right!”
Let It Snow. The weather outside is frightful, the fire’s delightful, and we’ve no place to go, but you’re still sending me out into the storm at the end of the evening? Honey, there is something seriously wrong with our relationship!
I’ll Be Home for Christmas. The ultimate smart-ass anthem. “Yeah, I’ll be home for Christmas—in my dreams! You people have made my life a living hell. Do you think I’ll endure your hypocritical bonhomie for another year? Forget it!” … I don’t know. Maybe I’m too angry.
Deck the Halls. “Don we now our gay apparel.” Considering that “gay,” used as an adjective, can be derogatory and embedded with homophobia, this line proves that you can get away with singing what you could never say out loud.
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. Here’s a depressing number. “Next year all our troubles will be miles away.” This year, everything sucks! The problem is that we sing this every year. It appears, then, that those troubles are not anxious to relocate anytime soon. “Someday soon we all will be together / If the fates allow.” And if they don’t, you are out of luck, baby! “So have yourself a merry little Christmas now.” Yeah, I’ll bet you will!
Frosty the Snowman. Speaking of fatalism, here is the capper. Frosty’s dancing around in his top hat and corncob pipe, saying, “Let’s run, and we’ll have some fun / Now before I melt away.” Next thing you know, he’s waving goodbye as he liquefies. It’s hard to imagine how jolly and happy he can be, knowing a little sunlight will obliterate him. But I suppose he does have reincarnation in his favor.
White Christmas. How about a BIPOC Christmas this year? White people have had it too good for too long! Oh, by “white,” you’re referring to the ice-coated dust that forms ten-foot drifts to trap you in your car? And if you’ve got your kids listening to hear sleigh bells in the snow, you are one mean SOB! Well, it’s more than likely that me and Elvis will be having a blue, blue, blue-blue Blue Christmas.
Winter Wonderland. Let me get this straight. You build a snowman and call him Parson Brown. And this ministerial effigy is going to “marry” you (heh-heh-heh) and legitimize your illicit relationship? I quote, “You can do the job when you’re in town.” Doesn’t this suggest that the bulbous being you’ve created will amble to the nearest house of worship to officiate? After all, it can talk, so locomotion shouldn’t be a problem. Oh, no, you say, we meant that Parson Brown would actually be doing the honors. Yeah, well, that’s not what the lyrics tell us. I might suggest that the snowman and Parson Brown could become entangled so that the movements of one will duplicate the actions of the other. But I don’t want to drown in quantum theory.
Good King Wenceslas. Most people don’t know that the Good Christian King got offed in Bohemia by his pagan brother and became a martyr to the faith. Hopefully, he lived long enough to wine and dine that peasant, although the song ends while he’s wandering around in the woods, so we don’t know if GKW gave up and let the unfortunate fellow die under the mountain.
Santa Baby. The ultimate Christmas wish list. Eartha doesn’t want much, just a sable mink, a convertible, a yacht, the deed to a platinum mine, a duplex, a whole lot of personal checks signed by Santa, and a ring (with a groom appended?). What does Santa get for all this largesse—what does he ever get? Not much, since she believes she’s entitled because of all the fun she’s missed and the dudes she hasn’t kissed. I suppose sobriety and chastity deserve some reward, but the lady is asking a bit much for her continence.
I’m not going to carp on the carols lest I offend the devout. Except for The Little Drummer Boy. I could foresee that all the “pa rum pum pum pums” would start to get on everyone’s nerves, especially right after a tough birth in a stable. Makes you wonder whether Joseph wouldn’t finally say, “That’s great, son. Why don’t you run out and entertain the shepherds for a while?”
I’ll finish up with The Twelve Days of Christmas. It was sweet of my true love to give me presents for twelve days, but…. First day, a partridge in a pear tree. I live in an apartment, so I’m not sure what to do with a pear tree. But thanks. The next day, I get two turtle-doves and another partridge in a pear tree. Gosh, that’s—uh—so thoughtful. On the third day, I’m gifted with partridges, pear trees, turtle-doves, and three French hens. My landlord does allow pets, but I’m not sure I can pass off chickens as boon companions. Fourth day, four calling-birds. I don’t have room for all the cages required, and my carpet and furniture are spattered with bird droppings. We come to day five, and I get five golden rings. Finally, something good. By the twelfth day, I’ll have 40 rings. Not too shabby, given the rising price of gold. Meanwhile, it’s getting really crazy. Six swans a-swimming. Eight geese a-laying, i.e., hatching even more geese. What is with all the damn birds? I’m going to have to build an aviary. On the eighth day, I receive eight maids a-milking. Milking what? Cows! Nobody talks about them in the song! But you know the fantasies that abound around maids. Maybe the eight of them and I can have some fun gratifying our “urges” if I can get them to stop with the milking for a while. It seems to get even better when I find myself with nine ladies dancing. The girls are crowding into my apartment by the minute. My true love probably won’t be too wild about me being in flagrante, but she’s the one who procured all the freaking women! Anyway, the chiquitas will abandon me once the ten lords a-leaping arrive. I can’t compete with their nobility and acrobatics. I was wondering how I’d keep all the guests entertained, but then 22 pipers and 12 drummers show up. But not one electric guitar! And don’t we need a lead singer? By the time we hit day twelve, I have 12 partridges, 12 pear trees, 30 French hens, 22 turtle-doves, 36 calling-birds, 42 geese, 42 swans, 40 maids, 40 cows, 36 ladies, 30 lords, plus the pipers and drummers. I’ve had about all the fruit, birds, and people I can stand! The cops will be here any minute! Amid all the chirping, clucking, cooing, trilling, honking, squawking, flapping, milking, mooing, dancing, leaping, thumping, chattering, laughing, whooping, piping, and drumming, I scream, “STOP! STOP! STOP! EVERYONE GET OUT! GET OUT! Go wait by the pear tree orchard until I figure out what to do with all of you!” My true love better come up with a farm to house all these animals and humans, plus a ton of food and grains to feed them, or we’re calling it quits!… Ah, that’s better! After twelve days of this, I’m hoping to have a Silent Night at last!