I’ll Jingle Some Bells For Ya

It’s time, once again, to share a semi-shameful secret with you, Gentle Reader.

I’ve been listening to holiday music since the first week of November. 

I just love it.  On my MP3 player are roughly 218 Christmas songs organized in nine albums.  But the Johnny Mathis classic, Merry Christmas is as much a part of me as my eyeglasses, the tiny gold hoop earrings I never remove, and colossal love of frosting.  Recorded in 1958, it has been the holiday soundtrack for my entire life (Mom was a big Johnny fan).

For me, Christmas time doesn’t begin until I hear that celesta (a percussion instrument that looks like a piano and sounds like bells) play the opening of “Winter Wonderland”.

After lo, these many years listening to holiday-specific music, shockingly, I have some opinions and questions.

Listening to the 1952 ditty, “I saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus”stresses me terribly.  So, who exactly is this Santa?  Is it the actual Santa?  Because in that case, is Mommy married to another, and cheating with the jolly fat man?  Is it another person in a costume?  Then, same question. 

Is the singer, who I can only assume is a child, completely innocent, and finds it funny that Mommy is kissing Santa?  Or is this kid much more sophisticated?  In that case, the lyrics, “Oh, what a laugh it would have been If Daddy had only seen…” are much more sinister.  Is the little spy working up a little “quid pro quo”?  “Gee, Santa, it sure would be a shame if my emotionally unstable father, with access to weapons, were to somehow find out about what’s going on here…I think a bicycle might make me forget all about the events that took place tonight.”

It makes me very uneasy.

Rudolph, OMG, that poor little congenitally challenged guy.  This song normalizes and defends bullying.  And not just bullying, but it justifies the objectification and exploitation of Rudolph.  Oh yeah, he’s a freak nobody wants anything to do with; until they need him.  Then he’s everybody’s best friend and a big hero. 

And what happens on the 26th, when they don’t need him anymore?  I’ll tell you what.  It’s, “Get away from us weirdo.  Why don’t you go dance on thin ice?  Your beak blinks like a blinkin’ beacon!” 

Those ungrateful buttheads don’t even deserve him.  I would’ve bailed out of that sleigh over the Swiss Alps and let ‘em find their own way home.

The only good thing about the song is that it sings the names of all the reindeer which helps me remember them.  

Oh, Mariah Carey.  She truly is a legend.  First, can we talk about those notes she hits and her singing range?  As Petey would say, “What the what?”

But her song, “All I Want For Christmas Is You”, is a marvel.  It took 15 minutes to write and compose in 1994.  This song is now the number one selling holiday song by a woman.  It has broken records for Christmas music all over the world.  It’s made, in fifteen years, $60 million.  It’s been covered by artists such as Miley Cyrus, My Chemical Romance, and Michael Buble.

The song itself, despite the money it’s generated, is anti-commercial.  When other songs ask Santa for all types of commercial goods (Can you say, “Santa Baby”?), all the singer wants is the “You”, the object of the song.

And if you’re like The Kid, who reacts to Christmas music the way Anna Wintour reacts to the sight of a bedazzled Walmart sweatshirt, I have two things to say to you:

Merry Christmas!

and

Lighten up!

Thanks for your time.

Contact debbie at d@bullcity.mom.

Three Views On A Holiday

It will come as no surprise to a student of the human mind, or frankly, anybody with a lick of sense, my view of Christmas was informed by the first one I remember.

It is a saccharine, nostalgic, romanticized vision of the holiday.That earliest Christmas memory, when I was five or six, was spent on the couch.  I had pneumonia, and just enough energy to observe.  My holiday was whatever went on around me.  I had a Disney Christmas anthology book and many seasonal Little Golden Books, including my favorite, “The Night Before Christmas”.I watched all the Rankin/Bass shows of Santa, Frosty, Rudolph, and the Island of Misfit Toys.  And of course, Charlie Brown’s Christmas.  The Peanuts gave me an appreciation for jazz, in the form of the Vince Guaraldi Trio, and the beautiful, majestic Shakespearian language of the King James version of the nativity.In 1973 I was nine, and it was all about my brother Homer’s wedding.  He was marrying Kelly, a very sweet young woman.  Mom told me she’d sew my outfit for the wedding and it could be whatever I wanted.  She probably regretted that promise when she found herself stitching together a purple velvet skirt and vest, with a coordinating lavender frilly-fronted shirt.

Yeah, I wish.

I looked like a cross between a Vegas pit boss and a Victorian couch.

In 1975 we were in in Puerto Rico.  Most gifts were shipped in.  To place a catalog order, one had to fill out a complicated order form and calculate price and fees.  Then write out a paper check, and mail the whole thing in.  Once Mr. Sears and Mr. Roebuck received it and the check cleared, a box would be packed and shipped.Mom was panicked because the order she’d placed in mid-September for my gifts hadn’t yet arrived.  My little brother’s presents had been received and wrapped weeks ago.  I knew nothing of this drama.

After unwrapping a spectacular haul, heavy on Barbie and Donnie Osmond, (the original catalog order had finally come), I was about to start opening each box and removing the dolls from their twisty-tie manacles.  Then I planned to dress them in their new duds and have a fashion show.Until my dad asked me to go into the kitchen and fetch him a cup of coffee.  I was more than a little grumpy.  C’mon, I had just opened my gifts!

I’d poured the coffee and turned around before I saw the true motive for Dad’s errand.

A glorious dayglo orange 10-speed bike!  For me!  Convinced the presents would never arrive, she and Dad had gone to the base exchange and bought me a beautiful new pair of wheels.Later I proudly wheeled it outside for a ride.  Along with twenty or thirty other kids.  It seems the exchange had received a huge shipment of one particular model of cantaloupe-hued 10-speeds.  That day a horde of tween Mongols mounted on tangerine bicycles was released upon the streets.  We traveled in packs as wobbly as new-born colts on our brand-new, slightly too-big bikes.x14But it was that 1960s holiday convalescence on the sofa which deeply and irrevocably set a reindeer on rooftop, joyfully over-decorated, scary fruitcake, white Christmas in my heart.It made my expectations high, but my standards low.  In my head is a Currier and Ives print set to the dulcet tones of Johnny Mathis.  But to make me think, “Best Christmas ever!”, all I need is the sound of bells, a glimpse of ribbon and tinsel, a few thousand Christmas carols on a playlist, and the pure crystalline happiness when passersby smile back.x26The Kid calls this annual lunacy my Chistma-thusiasm.

Thanks for your time.