5 Dark Implications of Classic Christmas Songs

Updated on July 23, 2017

The Happiest Season of All?

Ah, Christmas. The most wonderful time of the year, 'tis the season to be jolly, Deck the Halls, Rock Around the Christmas Tree, and Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.

Many of us listen to the joyous Christmas tunes in preparation for the big day, but did you know some of the melodies hide depressing truths? Don't believe me? Let's take a look at five disturbing implications of classic Christmas music!

1. I Saw Mommy Kissing (Actual) Santa Claus

Believe it or not, many goofballs (not me, of course) debate what actually transpires in "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus". Basically, we have two possibilities. Either it was just the dad dressed up as Santa, and the kid mistook him for the real one, or Santa was actually there, marking both him and the mom as cheaters. Crazy, right? Well.. maybe.

The child describes Santa as having a white beard, which sure sounds like the genuine article. Skeptics would argue that this is just a part of the father's disguise, but something smells fishy. A Santa outfit donned during a time when your child is asleep? Why would you dress up when you don't plan on any youth seeing you? And even if you were just getting into the season, would you really do more than the suit (putting on a full white beard), while your wife apparently dresses normally?

For it to be the dad, then:
1. He dressed up as Santa (including beard) despite not planning to be around any children.
2. The child would have to not recognize the dad, again implying a rather convincing disguise.

Maybe it really was just the father, but think about it: in most Christmas songs, Santa is real, and perhaps "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" is no exception.

Look for her in the obituaries
Look for her in the obituaries

2. Grandma Got Run Over is Incredibly Dark

Okay, maybe it's just me and I have the brains of a dentist-obsessed elf, but I never really thought about the lyrics to this song, I just kind of listened. As a kid (partially due to the animated special), I believed Grandma was run over, but soon got up afterwards, and everyone had a laugh about it.

No. My goodness no. Where to begin? First, as the lyrics say, she was drunk: "she'd been drinkin' too much eggnog". Then, her family "begged her not to go" but she apparently ignored them, forgot to take her medicine, and walked out in the frigid weather.

Still, it's not too dangerous to take a simple walk, right? Sure, unless a team of flying mammals led by a crimson-clad fat man run you over and proceed to get the Ho-Ho-Ho out of there. How could Santa be so careless, and why did he not render aid to the poor woman? The song ends with her body being found Christmas morning, and it's heavily implied ol' Cindy Lou Who here kicked the bucket.

In short, Grandma got drunk, was hit, deserted, and killed by Santa of all people (who managed to somehow collide with an elderly pedestrian using a team of magical flying reindeer), and her family gets to enjoy planning a funeral on Christmas Day. Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la!


3. Rudolph was Heavily Bullied

Well, we just saw how caribou can mow down a poor, intoxicated old lady, but maybe Santa had been hitting the eggnog too hard and it was his fault. But trust me, most reindeer are jerks.

You're familiar with the (supposedly) heart-lifting tale of Rudolph, who was an outcast until his shiny nose aided Santa in guiding his sleigh. A happy enough ending, granted, but think about just how this story played out.

Prior to Christmas, the song states "All of the other reindeer used to laugh and call [Rudolph] names". This implies that
1. Reindeer can talk (at least to each other) .
2. Reindeer are cruel to anyone who doesn't conform.

No one stood up for Rudolph at this time, and he was excluded from the reindeer games. Either Santa allowed the bullying, or was blissfully ignorant of what was happening. The reindeer eventually come around, but only after Rudolph attains a position of power as the lead for Santa's seligh; they seem to include Rudolph only after he becomes "useful", rather than actually understand they'd been shunning someone who was a little different.

Well, at least things worked out okay for the poor guy, unlike some unlucky fellas..

4." I'll Be Home For Christmas" is about a guy who won't be home for Christmas

Here's a straightforward one. I'll Be Home for Christmas, originally recorded in 1943 by Bing Crosby, debuted during World War 2. It showcases the longings of a soldier stationed in battle overseas, wishing for things like "snow, mistletoe, and presents."

So, yea, stinks that he's fighting but he'll soon be home in time for Christmas, right? Well, when we stop and listen to the melancholy line "if only in my dreams", we see that these longings are simply that: dreams and desires of a man fighting for his life who won't be home to see his loved ones on Christmas.

This is likely one of the more well-known depressing Christmas moments; in fact, some renditions of the song alter the lyrics for a more cheerful resolution.

5. Pretty much all of "Baby It's Cold Outside"

The original inspiration for this article, "Baby It's Cold Outside" struck me as I recently listened to it. The guy seemed pretty dang persistent when trying to convince his gal pal to stay.. almost suspiciously so. At the time, I thought I was looking too deeply into matters; afterall, she eventually agrees to remain.

No, I was spot-on! This song has plenty of creepy lines. In addition to the man repeatedly ignoring the woman's hints that she needs to leave (she even straight up states "the answer is no"), we have a possible drugging, evidenced by the peculiar line, "Say, what's in this drink?". In response to this query, the guy does what he does best: he ignores her, talking about a cab instead in his next line.

He also tries to guilt-trip her into sticking around, sullenly exclaiming "How can you do this thing to me?". Plus, many condemn the tone of this song (remember it's from the 40's), where it seems the man's "role" is to seduce the woman.

Honestly, before I even researched it, I'd been wondering where this song would have gone if the woman decided she did need to go at the end. Either way, here's one holiday song that gives me as many shivers as the cold outside.

Christmas Music Quiz

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I'll always appreciate how Christmas tunes capture both the joy and sorrows people experience during the winter holidays. For some, Christmas truly is the most wonderful time of the year, while others have a blue Christmas. Test your Christmas music knowledge in the quiz, and to all a good night!

Questions & Answers


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        18 months ago

        Oh gosh, I didn't know there's one with a grandma ran over. I hope she's ... fine.


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