December 13, 2012

“O Christmas Tree” doesn’t worry me as much. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

I worry about the people in Christmas songs.

Every year, we hear their stories, piped in over the radio to the sound of jingle bells. And every year, I have serious concerns. For instance:

– The Little Drummer Boy

Where are his parents? Why is he playing the drum around a newborn baby?

Here is a list of things women who have just given birth in stables want, in no particular order:

  • Rest.
  • Quiet.
  • Sleep.
  • Soothing ambient noises.
  • To be left alone.

Nowhere on this list does “DRUM MUSIC” occur.

Really, you could not bring the little fife boy? The little white noise boy would have been comparatively welcome. 

If you showed up today in a hospital maternity ward with a drum and announced that you were going to “honor” the babies by playing drum music, they would escort you out. And this does not take into account what happened when the ox and lamb kept time.

– Santa Claus Is Coming to Town

Santa’s surveillance system sounds terrifying. He sees you when you’re sleeping? And when you’re awake? What is he using, drones? What are the details of this system? And it sounds as though he has a serious compulsion about rechecking list items. Checking each list item twice sounds like a good plan until you realize that Every Child On Earth is on the list. 

Also, Santa considers “pouting” and “crying” to be acts worthy of the Naughty List? This seems relatively minor. 

– Baby It’s Cold Outside

This song, as numerous people point out every year, could be about date rape. “Say, what’s in this drink?”

 “You won’t be able to catch a cab,” he says. “Did anyone tell you your eyes look like stars?”

Does this singer have someone she can call for a ride? Because it really, really sounds like she should do that.

– A Christmas Song

I’m on board with chestnuts roasting on an open fire and Jack Frost nipping at your nose and the Yuletide carols being sung by a choir and the folks dressed up like Eskimos, but I wonder why the eyes of the tiny tots are glowing. I think there may be a radioactivity issue there that someone should look into.

– It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Whose Christmas ritual involves telling scary ghost stories and roasting marshmallows? Are you sure this is Christmas? Are you sure this isn’t a scouting trip?

– Winter Wonderland

These people just built a snowman and asked him to marry them. Their relationship has some underlying problems that I think they should explore before committing “to face unafraid the plans that we made walking in a winter wonderland.”

– Frosty the Snowman

I don’t care if the singer thinks he was a “jolly, happy soul.” That’s just one man’s opinion. To the rest of us, the prospect of a suddenly animate snowman in a silk hat, smoking a pipe, pursuing the children through the streets of town with a broomstick in his hand screaming, “CATCH ME IF YOU CAN!” sounds like a hideous nightmare figure. When they finally get rid of him, he insists “I’ll be back again someday” even as his footsteps fade over the hills with an ominous thumpity-thump thump, thumpity-thump thump, leaving a terrorized and chastened town in his wake. 

Alternatively, this is a sobering meditation on mortality, with a snowman who understands too well that he is about to melt and die and who limps away (thumpity thump thump, thumpity thump thump, each step a tiny agony as the sun tears through his icy frame) over the hills of snow to prevent the crowd of children who brought him to life from witnessing his miserable demise.

– Jingle Bell Rock

I have no idea what is going on in this song. Here, in their entirety, are the lyrics. 

Jingle bell, jingle bell, jingle bell rock
Jingle bells swing and jingle bells ring
Snowing and blowing up bushels of fun
Now the jingle hop has begun

Jingle bell, jingle bell, jingle bell rock
Jingle bells chime in jingle bell time
Dancing and prancing in Jingle Bell Square
In the frosty air.

What a bright time, it’s the right time
To rock the night away
Jingle bell time is a swell time
To go gliding in a one-horse sleigh
Giddy-up jingle horse, pick up your feet
Jingle around the clock
Mix and a-mingle in the jingling feet
That’s the jingle bell,
That’s the jingle bell,
That’s the jingle bell rock.

Do you know what is going on? I don’t know what’s going on. Lot of jingling. And there’s a horse? Beyond that I could not really say. 

– I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus

This speaker just witnessed his mother’s infidelity, and he’s singing to a large audience of strangers about it? 

– Santa Baby

Based on her requests (a sable, a ring, a yacht, a car) the singer is clearly a grown woman. Yet she still believes in Santa Claus? 

Someone has failed as a parent. 

Alexandra Petri writes the ComPost blog, offering a lighter take on the news and opinions of the day.