One day the house would be relatively quiet, the next it was filled with holiday music from the record player. Usually that meant Nat King Cole or Bing Crosby crooning yuletide tunes.
My mom’s Christmas albums signaled that time was getting short. Next, we would go pick out a real tree in a scene reminiscent of A Christmas Story. Then right before the big day, we’d decorate that sucker – complete with tinsel that my taskmaster father demanded went on one strand at a time. Then came midnight Mass and the Big Day, complete with presents and presents and presents.
Nowadays the Christmas music comes right after Thanksgiving on stations dedicated to the stuff. We’re bombarded by it and it loses a bit of its wonder.
This year the CD player in Shan’s car is busted, so we haven’t been listening to our custom Christmas playlists. I’ve intentionally steered clear of Christmas tunes in my car to avoid early burnout.
But, as we drove down to my in-laws place this weekend we listened to some songs on my wife’s iPhone. It started to get me in the mood. Then, the next day, I went into Conway and spent the day with holiday songs as my sole companion as I did a little shopping.
All that music got me thinking (which is always dangerous).
You know, there’s just not much rock in Jingle Bell Rock. In fact, it really doesn’t rock at all. At best, it could be called Jingle Bell With a Bit of Electric Guitar Thrown In (Sorta) in the Background. Now, if Metallica or Zepplin covered it, that would qualify as actual rock.
There’s also a lot of seemingly needless pleading that goes on in Christmas songs. Please Come Home for Christmas seems pretty demanding and super-needy. I mean, if whoever this person is can’t make it home, quit with the guilt already. If they can just get in a car or even a plane and show up for the holidays and choose not to, for goodness sake show a little dignity. Accept it, whoever you’re singing to is not coming. Quit begging.
And let’s face it, Baby It’s Cold Outside is downright creepy. Gee guy, no means no and all that stuff. And what did he slip into her drink? I shudder to think. Run, I don’t care if is snowing, get out of there!
The Little Drummer Boy is just terrible, so stop doing new versions.. The original is bad enough – pa rum pum pum pum. The Bowie/Crosby version was downright scary – pa rum pum pum pum. I don’t know which updated version I heard while I was out driving, but it forced me to change stations – pa rum pum pum pum. Instead, I listened to Ozzy Osborne and Lita Ford sing, If I Close My Eyes Forever for a bit – pa rum pum pum pum. It made me feel more cheery than the other drivel – pa rum pum pum pum.
Oh, and singing Twas the Night Before Christmas does not make it a song. It’s not a song. At best, it’s an okay poem. Stop it.
You might come away from this thinking I don’t like Christmas tunes. You’d be wrong. Let’s face it, as my mom would say, I have a smart mouth.
I like most versions of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, even though it is really pretty short to qualify as an actual song. It’s really more like a ditty. My favorite version is the one sung at the end of the first Simpson’s Christmas episode. It was vintage Simspons, when the animation was a little squiggly and Homer was still just a hard-working dad, not a total simpleton. The song has all the funny asides, with Bart finishing “You’ll go down in history” with “Like Attila the Hun.”
My wife loves Up on the Housetop and it’s become one of my favorites by association. Though, I have to admit, I’d like to give a modern-day kid a hammer with lots of tacks for Christmas just to see the reaction. Could get painful. Also, I don’t think a lot of people would choose to go “down through the chimney with good Saint Nick.” It sounds painful and a bit claustrophobic (no pun intended).
Silver Bells is one of my daughter’s favorites. I could be proud of that, it’s a good choice. It’s even better when you know she prefers the Dean Martin version. Now that shows class. Deano is the best. I always picture him crooning “It’s Christmas time in the city”, all dressed to the nines, with a leggy showgirl nearby and a glass of Scotch on the rocks hoisted in his hand. That’s my kind of song.
So, if you’ve not listened to your favorite songs yet, get to it. You’re running out of time. If you’re a bit burned out, try just listening to a few of your absolute favorites.
Sure it’s a pretty secular activity at a time a lot of Christians get beaten up by their critics for not doing more for the suffering the the world or for trying to focus the holiday on Christ Himself.
You’re never going to win that one.
So, turn on your tunes if it puts you in the spirit. If The World gives you the stink-eye , don’t sweat it.
My mom would give the raspberries to that special type of non-believer who seem oddly focused on how Christ’s followers mark the day of His birth. They contend we Christians are either too secular or too religious. We either ignore our Lord or point to Him too much. They sneer at the Christian listening to Jingle Bells and scoff even more if he chooses Silent Night.
My mom would likely note, in the arithmetic of The World, Christians can always do more, because quite simply, we can. We are only human and all too likely to get it wrong. That’s why He came in the first place.
Then, I’d be my last nickel, my mom would offer the nay sayers this little piece of advice, “Pull down your britches and slide on the ice.”
That was one of her favorites.
Pa rump pum pum pum.