A new classic: the Christmas song game

Posted By on Dec 8, 2009 | 7 comments


Hey! I made a game. I’m so creative sometimes. Look at me: I’m like a little Christmas Elf in Santa’s workshop. If I were an Elf, my Elf name would be Crinkles the Elf.

I originally intended this as a drinking game, but since I imagine that most people will play in their cars I had to modify it a little bit.

Here’s how you play: First, tune your radio to one of those stations that plays all holiday songs from now until Christmas. Next, punch yourself in the eye every time you hear “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” “Please Come Home for Christmas,” or “All I Want for Christmas is You.” Every single second-rate pop star from the last two decades seems to have recorded a version of at least one of these songs. (Note to self: Record one of these songs to include on comeback album in order to solidify status as washed-up pop icon.) Coming in close second are “Santa, Baby,” and “Last Christmas.” Since those aren’t quite as prevalent, substitute a titty twister for the punch in the eye.  You win the game if you can give yourself a black eye by the time you arrive at your destination. Ask the kids to join in, too. It’s fun for the whole family.

There are so many beautiful Christmas songs out there, why does everyone pigpile on just a few? Do pop stars assume that a song needs to have some sort of sexual or romantic content in order to make it palatable for their fans? Why not do something truly creative and take one of the old classics and rework it to something new and powerful? Or — dare I say it — why doesn’t someone write a new Christmas song? Aren’t these people supposed to be recording artists? Make some art. Please. 

There is one song that I haven’t yet heard this year that drives me so out-of-my-mind crazy. I know that this song is waiting for me. It’s waiting until a very cold night when I’m out, alone, running to Walgreens or some other fluorescent-lighted sort of place to get some stupid thing that we need THAT NIGHT. I’ll be tired and cranky. I’ll look tired and cranky. I’ll just want to get home and corral the monkeys into bed so I can collapse. And then “The Christmas Shoes” will come on. I will probably make some sort of snorty-sounding sound. I will want to change the station. But I won’t. You know this song, yes? The one with the kid who is out by himself on Christmas Eve. He wants to buy shoes for his momma but he doesn’t have enough money. Turns out, the kid is alone because his mom is busy dying at that particular moment. So the dude singing the song gives the kid the rest of the money so that his momma can looks nice at her appointment to meet Jesus later that night. This song makes me feel like an absolute schlub.  As I sob in my car (seriously, every time) I curse the people responsible for this piece of garbage. My bet is that a bunch of so-called hitmakers sat around in a room and said, “Let’s make a Christmas song that will make people cry.” I do not want to be taken in by their formulaic bullshit. I want to go, “Your saccharine cannot penetrate my heart. I am only moved by things that are genuine.” I start saying that and then I choke on my sobs. Grrrr.

Coming up: My next bloggity blog is going to be all about Merry Christmas v. Happy Holidays. I think it’s pretty clear that I tend to lean liberalish. My take on it might surprise you.

In the meantime, I have some homework for the Jews and other non-Christians in the audience: Please tell me (via comment or email) if you feel offended by Christmas parties, Christmas sales, etc. and if you feel more included by the phrase, “Happy Holidays.” I’d love your input.

And with that I say: Please, please come home for Christmas. If not for Christmas, by New Year’s night.

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7 Comments

  1. Wow where to start? Perhaps I should try and summarize with three main points:

    1) I celebrate “Krismas” and unless someone is blatantly evangelical or a Christian extremist, they probably are wishing me a “Merry Krismas” when they say “Merry Christmas”.

    What is Krismas you ask? Jacob Walker defines it as “…a secular holiday that celebrates the myth of Kris Kringle, commonly known as Santa Claus. It happens on December 25th of each year, and is also closely associated with Krismas Eve, which occurs December 24th… Krismas is about giving gifts, especially those “from the heart”; it is about the magic of childhood; it is about peace on earth; and it is about goodwill towards humankind, and anything else you wish it to mean that does not involve the Jesus as a savior bit.

    2) The Christian CHRIST-MAS is a hijacking of the even older celebration of the solstice: when the days stop getting shorter in the Northern Hemisphere (usually in the cold dead of winter) and start getting longer signifying the inevitable return of the sun. As the Romans “spread” Christianity around the many compliant peoples they came across, it was easier to convert people from one religion to another if you co-opted their traditions into your own. Hence superimposing Christian beliefs on top of Pagan traditions, etc.

    Where is “Christmas” mentioned in the bible? Where does the bible indicate that Jesus was born on December 25th? Why on earth would the Roman Empire call a census in the middle of winter?

    To go even further, the “Christmas Story” a.k.a. the story of the birth of Jesus is borrow/hijacked from earlier savior god-man myths.

    Mithra: worshiped in Persia circa 1200bce; born of a virgin; born on Dec 25; had 12 diciples; performed miracles; dead for 3 days and resurrected.
    Others born on ~Dec 25 (or in the week of the solstice) and also born of virgins: Augustus (his father was the god Apollo), Attis, Adonis, Buddha, Dionysus, Korybas, Krishnsa, Osirus, Perseus, Romulus and Remus, Tammuz and Zoroaster (no only name a few).

    3) The U.S. Government secularized Christmas when they made it a federal holiday. Since the Constitution clearly states that the government can make no law establishing a state religion, then declaring Christmas as a federal holiday is either a) establishing Christianity as the state religion, or b) claiming it to be a secular holiday and removing any religious context from it. Since the government would never break constitutional law *ahem* then it must be (b).

    Too much?

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  2. I downloaded an interesting mix of Christmas tunage today. I think you would’ve liked some of them.

    A classic worked into something new and powerful: “Carol of the Bells” by Metallica. Fascinating. And not quite what you’d expect. A similar effort but pretty much what you WOULD expect is “Jingle Bells” by Korn. Not your gramma’s Chistmas music there. (OK, and I have a fondness for Jimmy Buffett’s “Jingle Bells.” It’s island style, mon!)

    As for the “new stuff,” yeah. Those are few and far between. Although the mix I got today included:
    “I’ve Got a Boner for Christmas” by Nerf Herder (they of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer theme music fame)
    “Ho Ho Fucking Ho” by who else? Monthy Python.
    “Another Rock and Roll Christmas” by Iron Maiden (not sure of this is an original, but I think so.)
    As you can see though … none of it is what you could call current. You know who puts out the most original Christmas music every year? Country singers. Figures.

    I don’t listen to B101 or whatever station it is that does the Christmas music 24/7, but I’m a bit of a Christmas music collector. I have oodles of crazy stuff, including the funniest lesbian Christmas album ever (I’ll Be a Homo for Christmas”) as well as “Christmas in the Stars,” the Star Wars Christmas album, which features an unknown teen Jon Bon Jovi singing on “R2-D2 We Wish You A Merry Christmas.” Yeah. It’s special.

    OH! I would highly recommend you put on WXPN on Christmas Eve. From like noon until early Christmas morning they play an amazing mix of stuff most people have probably never heard, along with the usuals, of course. But it’s THE BEST for listening to while you’re doing all that last-minute midnight wrapping.

    Did you know Tori Amos just put out a holiday CD? (I know you like Tori) I haven’t heard yet but I’m looking forward to it. It’s called Midwinter Graces. If you look it up on Amazon, click on the MP3 format. They’re offering the song “Snow Angel” for free from now through Monday.

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  3. Awesome. I think I love Stephen.

    And yeah, Christmas was all kinds of hijacked from the Pagan Yule celebration and the Mithraic festival of the birth of the sun. My understanding is that Jesus wasn’t born in December (I once heard it was March). But Christians hijacked a LOT of the holidays of the old religions, because doing so would hopefully ease the transition of the people they were converting to Christianity, by offering a degree of familiarity.

    As amusing as I find the concept of “Krismas,” I celebrate Yule, personally. For my son I celebrate Christmas, but I intend to teach him about ALL of the various interpretations of the December holidays. I feel a little sheepish about the fact that he was apparently oblivious to the “Jesus’ Birthday” part of it all until I mentioned it tonight while watching the Charlie Brown Christmas special. As always, I framed my statement with “some people believe that …” No doubt his grandparents would not approve of my approach. But they are Catholic, and that should pretty much explain it, no?

    The answer to your question is that “Christmas” as a word, does not offend me. Yet even before I began sending out Yule cards instead of Christmas cards, I would never have sent a Christmas card to my Jewish friends. I always had a separate stack of “Happy Holidays” cards to send. And I always tend to end my December communications with “Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, Happy Kwanzaa, Joyous Yule, Happy Festivus” etc. Maybe this year, I’ll add “Merry Krismas”. That said, I do think that workplaces and such, unless they are small and assuredly populated by all Christians, should go with the “Holiday Party” concept, just because if there are non-Christians working for you, well, that’s just the right thing to do.

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  4. Merry Christmas. Happy Chanakuh. Or Hanukkah. Or however the f*ck you spell it. Happy Holidays. Warm Winter Season Wishes. Or something. Or nothing, if you’re Atheist. Who cares? Seriously, don’t we all have more important things to get offended by these days?

    A few jobs ago, I remember hearing that management had to redo the Christmas party invite last minute and change it to a “Holiday party” so as not to offend anyone. Really? First of all — how does that come up last minute? Are we all just learning about Jews and Muslims and Kwanzaa and other non-denominational winter holidays and/or events? Secondly, who’s going to be so offended that they’ll boycott a work-sponsored event, with FREE booze? And how is this “offense” demonstrated? Are people taking these ‘hot off the art department printer’ invites in hand and storming into H.R. to demand a party name change?

    And who are these people — the offended, the complainers? The same people who made us change “Indian giver” into “guy who gives stuff then takes it back”? And what’s next? We lose Black Friday?

    This year, let’s not waste our time getting angry while perusing the aisles of Party City trying to get Christm…er, Holiday party decorations. Because honestly, aren’t there more important things to worry about in this lifetime? You know, like how many more skanks will come forward as Tiger Woods mistresses, or whether or not Morgan Freeman really wants to marry his step-granddaughter. Or maybe even, I don’t know, curing the Swine Flu.

    We live in offensive times. Let’s take it easy on each other this time of year. Happy Chrismakuh, everyone…

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  5. As I read the postings from the top down I was already beginning to formulate my response in my mind and my fingers were twitching with anticipation. However after reading the response from Your ‘ole Jewish roomie I realized that it would take far too long to compose something that any more had more validity than what she(?) already wrote.

    So in this day and age when it seems like so many people are perpetually wandering around looking for the newest thing to be offended by let me end by saying this….

    MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYBODY! (said with as much exclusivity, malice and disregard for other holidays as the reader cares to take from it even though non was intended – so bleah!)

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  6. I have nothing witty to add, but I will say that I wholeheartedly join you in your hatred for The Christmas Shoes. It’s a total cheap shot.

    I’d listen to Karen Carpenter sing “the logs on the fire… fill me with desire” over and over and over till my ears bleed before I’d listen to The Christmas Shoes.

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