Thursday, December 03, 2009

Some of our Christmas songs have odd lyrics

Hump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial page

The fact that the Christmas season is here is pretty obvious. The parades are mostly over already. The houses are getting decorated one by one. Santa's in the mall. The Christmas cards and letters are being written and prepared for sending.

Most importantly, people actually like talking about Christmas at this time of the year. I'm one of those very annoying persons who starts looking forward to the holiday season early, so I'm constantly dropping references in conversations, in columns and in social media circles such as Facebook or Twitter. I've notice the tide turning in recent weeks. The threats on my life that I was experiencing two months ago calmed down to a kick in the shins a month ago. Now, most are actually happy that Christmas is here.

As someone who (annoyingly, again, I must emphasize) starts listening to Christmas music when the leaves are still green on the trees, I must say that I've been puzzled by many of the lyrics I've been hearing. Some of them are downright nonsensical, while others require a doctorate in medieval history to even barely figure them out.

First up, let's take a look at "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year," made famous by Andy Williams and kept alive by Staples through their back-to-school commercials that start airing in late July and early August.

"There'll be parties for hosting / Marshmallows for toasting / And carolling out in the snow / There'll be scary ghost stories / And tales of the glories of Christmases long, long ago."

Now, I get the parties for hosting. Makes sense. Christmas is the season for parties, no? Carolling out in the snow... well, I've never actually seen carollers out in the snow other than on Christmas cards, but that makes sense, as well. Tales from long ago? Yes, we've all heard how our parents basically got a half-chewed peppermint and a tuft of grandpa's back hair for Christmas and everyone screamed with delight and felt lucky to have that. And then they all nibbled on their peppermint until Easter and stuffed a sock with grandpa's back hair (that they'd all pooled together as a family) to make a doll for everyone to play with. Sounds... thrilling.

I do have to take issue with "Marshmallows for toasting", since I know of no one who actually does that in their home, although it's plausible. Considering how kids are so over-protected these days, I doubt they'd be able to get 10 feet from the fireplace (if you have one) or be laden down with some sort of a fireproof uniform so specialized that they could put out the sun without breaking a sweat.

The one I don't get is the part about scary ghost stories. I realize that A Christmas Carol is a ghost story, however reading the book out loud at Christmas would take hours, even though it's relatively short by Charles Dickens' standards. Besides, the kids have grandpa's back hair to play with -- and who can resist that?

I can just imagine two parents sitting around on Christmas Eve... Father with his pipe and slippers... Mother with her knitting... "Mother," Father would say. "It's Christmas Eve and all's quiet through the house. The children are sleeping and Santa Claus will be here soon to drop off all the presents. Are you thinking what I'm thinking?"

"Yes, dear. I do believe I am," Mother would respond, not missing a stitch from the pair of mittens she's working on. And then Father would say, "Yes, Mother, let's go scare the pants off the children with some scary ghost stories, shall we? After all, it's what people do at Christmas, isn't it?" An hour later, the kids are crying and hysterical and clinging to each other like they're on the Titanic. Just screams Merry Christmas, doesn't it? I hope Santa wears a bullet-proof vest coming down that chimney!

Then there's "Here Comes Suzy Snowflake," a song I heard on a Rosemary Clooney Christmas CD that I have. "Here comes Suzy Snowflake / Dressed in a snow white gown / Tap, tap, tappin' at your window pane / To tell you she's in town."

OK, Suzy... just some advice. Don't be banging on my windows on Christmas Eve and expect me to be happy to see you.

In fact, you'd probably scare the living daylights out of me, leading to a scene more like out of the movie Halloween rather than the mirror image of a nice, peaceful Christmas card that you were hoping for.

My house would be surrounded with yellow police tape, the coroner's car parked in my driveway, sirens wailing, and -- just outside my now broken window (from the crossbow shot), a big indent in the snow that's stained red. Use the doorbell next time, Suzy. It's safer.

The lyrics to "Up on the Housetop" are equally baffling. "Next comes the stocking of little Will / Oh, just see what a glorious fill / Here is a hammer and lots of tacks / Also a ball and a whip that cracks."

Sweet mother of all that his holy! I can just imagine if I gave my sister's four-year-old son this stuff. I'd be banished from his life forever.

A hammer and tacks... oh sure... that's the first thing that came to mind for someone who can only make it to the bathroom on time three times out of four. And a ball to bounce continuously? Yeah, Mommy would love that.

And a whip too?

Might as well put him on the waiting list for an artificial eye right now and beat the crowd.

I don't know about some of these crazy songs. None of them are particularly true to the real meaning of Christmas. They've been around for years and I suppose we're stuck with them for now, though.

And folks, if you're looking for something to give Suzy Snowflake this year, how about some doorbell ringing lessons?


galliengit said...

heres a beatiful xmas instrumental song on acoustic guitar called snowflake in a bottle for posting if you like it

Brian Cormier said...

Thanks for that! Very nice!