Jeremy explores many topics as he juggles his passion for writing with his career as a chemical analyst and campus manager.
The Dark Side of Christmas
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 our radio's joyous Christmas tunes in preparation for the big day, but on close inspection, a surprising number of these 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?
For it to be the dad, then:
- He dressed up as Santa (including beard) despite not planning to be around any children.
- 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. And if you think smooching' another man's wife is something old Saint Nick would never do, consider that he's not opposed to murdering the elderly with hit and runs...
2. Grandma Actually Got Run Over by a Reindeer
Maybe I just have the brains of a dentistry-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 good laugh about it.
No. My goodness no. Where to begin? First, as the lyrics say, she was drunk, always a nice lesson for kids: "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 so bad to take a 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
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 probably familiar with the (supposedly) heartwarming tale of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer", who was an outcast until his shiny nose aided Santa in guiding his sleigh. A happy enough ending, 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 him names." This implies that reindeer are cruel to anyone who doesn't conform.
Also, no one stood up for Rudolph 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 sleigh; they only admire Rudolph after he becomes "useful," rather than learn a general lesson of acceptance.
Despite the hypocrisy, at least things worked out for the red-nosed reindeer, but not all Christmas music has a happy ending...
4." I'll Be Home for Christmas" Is About a Guy Who Won't be Home for Christmas
Here's a straightforward one involving "I'll Be Home for Christmas," originally recorded in 1943 by Bing Crosby during World War 2. It showcases the longings of a soldier stationed in battle overseas, wishing for things like "snow, mistletoe, and presents."
Yea, stinks that he's fighting, but he'll soon be home for the holidays, 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 one of the more well-known depressing Christmas moments. In fact, some renditions of the song alter the lyrics for a more cheerful resolution so you can sip your hot chocolate without having an existential crisis.
5. "Baby It's Cold Outside" Is Really Creepy
If we pay a little too much attention, classic Christmas duet "Baby It's Cold Outside" rubs us the wrong way; the guy seems excessively persistent when trying to convince his gal pal to stay. Sure, she eventually agrees, but his subtle manipulations and topic changes emit an ominous vibe.
Then there's the creepy dialogue. In addition to the man repeatedly ignoring the woman's hints that she needs to leave (she once clearly states "the answer is no"), we have a possible drugging, evidenced by her peculiar line, "Say, what's in this drink?." In response to this query, the guy does what he does best: ignores her, and starts discussing a cab in his next line. He also tries to guilt-trip her into remaining, sullenly exclaiming "How can you do this thing to me?" Plus, many condemn the tone of this song (remember it's from the 40s), where it seems the man's "role" is to seduce the woman, and all's fair if it's furthering that goal.
To some, it's a harmless, flirtatious exchange, but try holding that up in court. All in all, here's one holiday song that gives us as many shivers as the cold outside.
Christmas Music Quiz
For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.
- "I want a ______ for Christmas"
- Polar Bear
- True or False: "Sleigh Ride" makes no mention of any holiday.
- Who decided he'd have a "Blue Christmas"?
- Bobby Helms
- Andy Williams
- Elvis Presley
- John Lennon
- According to his song, what does The Grinch have in his soul?
- In "Santa Baby", what color does the girl want her convertible to be?
- Pitch Black
- Dark Red
- Bright White
- Light Blue
- Elvis Presley
- Light Blue
Interpreting Your Score
If you got between 0 and 1 correct answer: Rank: Eggnog-intoxicated Santa. Avoid pedestrians.
If you got between 2 and 3 correct answers: Rank: Hermey, the dentist-obsessed elf.
If you got 4 correct answers: Rank: Rudolph, the once-bullied but now-happy reindeer!
If you got 5 correct answers: Rank: Santa. You know your Christmas jingles, Kris Kringle!
Happy and Sad Christmas Songs
I'll always appreciate how Christmas tunes capture both the joy and sorrows people experience during the winter holidays. For some, December 25th truly is the most wonderful time of the year, while others sadly have a blue Christmas. To help raise your spirits, feel free to test your holiday knowledge with some Christmas trivia, and to all a good night!
© 2016 Jeremy Gill
CYong74 on December 27, 2016:
Oh gosh, I didn't know there's one with a grandma ran over. I hope she's ... fine.