The River's Badge

Saturday, December 12, 2015

The Thing About Christmas Songs



If merchants had to depend on me for their Christmas cheer, they'd be crying into their mug of wassail.

I'm not a Christmas fan.

I do have my reasons. Number one, I happen to work in an industry whose busiest time of the year is the last three weeks before Christmas. Therefore, no one is allowed to take time off, not even one lousy day to do their shopping. Add to that the stress of a long, heart-attack inducing day, and the last thing I want to do when I (finally) get off work is go shopping for holiday trinkets. All I want is a cup gallon of hot wassail. Secondly, Christmas is happy and exciting when there are kids in the house. Cats and dogs don't experience that same euphoria of anticipation that actual human kids do. In fact, Josie and Bob only anticipate when their next meal will be forthcoming, as they perch in their assigned spots two hours before suppertime.

When I had young kids, I exalted in the subterfuge -- writing out my shopping list in shorthand so no little eyes would tempt themselves and spoil the surprise.

That one big day with one big shopping cart, trudging my goodies through the snow and slush, the cart's wheels refusing to budge, as I twisted the cart like a pinwheel to deposit all those special toys in my trunk.

The Saturday evening when I would put on a favorite Christmas CD, dim the lights and decorate the tree, placing the school-made ornaments in very prominent spots on the branches; stringing together wreaths made of popcorn.

Writing out Christmas cards and slipping school photographs inside. Getting Christmas cards with school photographs slipped inside.

Pasting red, green, and blue window clings on the big picture window in the living room -- red trees and green boughs, white snowflakes, and blue letters that spelled out MERRY CHRISTMAS.

Hauling the big stand mixer out of the top cupboard and mixing up a batch of sugar cookies to be decorated, and a big pan of fudge, and divinity, and whatever other cookies struck my fancy that particular year.

The kids tearing open their gifts on Christmas Eve, exclaiming it was just what they wanted. Me on the floor assembling Fisher Price farm yards and, in ensuing years, admiring all manner of Transformers and Deluxe Lego cities (Those little yellow plastic bricks hurt like hell when you step on one with your bare feet two days after Christmas!)

When we packed up the car and drove to spend Christmas Day with Grandma and Grandpa, the kids loathe to leave their new treasures behind at home, Grandma pulling open the oven door to baste the giant turkey, Grandpa "helping" by sitting back in his recliner in the living room. Me salivating over the fresh-baked pecan pie. My brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews gathered around the long table Dad had set up in the living room to accommodate everybody; munching on green olives and carrot sticks from the relish tray to quell our hunger, Mom's candle evergreen centerpiece gracing the center.

That was Christmas to me.

I really should just chalk it up as a life phase that's come and gone. My kids are grown and they have new traditions of their own. Mom and Dad left in 2001. Really, the only thing I have remaining from Christmas Past is music, if I take the time to listen to it.

But here's the thing about Christmas songs....

Thank God they only come around once a year.

Our local oldies station begins playing Christmas music twenty-four/seven, right after (or maybe even before) Thanksgiving. Those DJ's must be hitting up the liquor store every couple of days, because if one has to find enough holiday music to fill all that airtime, one knows (the DJ's know more than anyone) that the great majority of it sucks. I listened for a few brief moments on my car radio today as I was motoring off to perform a semblance of actual gift-shopping (I got two -- yes, two gifts). I learned, from my radio, that Christmas music falls into a few categories:


  • Sucky
  • Maudlin
  • Instrumental (which, to be frank, could be anything - could be Arbor Day music for all anyone knows)
  • Too jazzy
  • Annoying
  • Cheesy
  • Not bad


I thought I would highlight a few of these types.

Best drunk performance by someone trying to appear sober:



(Yes, I know this is a montage. Sorry, it's all I could find.)

Best sober performance by someone trying to act drunk:


Best cry in your beer, drown your heartache Christmas song:


Christmas song that makes you want to drink yourself to death:


(I'm sure Andy Williams was a fine man. But this song falls into the "sucky", "too jazzy" category. Sorry.)

Other songs I would pay top dollar to never hear again:

  • Do You Hear What I Hear (no, and stop asking me!)
  • Little Drummer Boy (especially the Johnny Cash version...rum pa pah PUM)
  • Christmas Time Is Here (that stupid Peanuts maudlin song with the screechy kids singing. Really gets one in the spirit!)


Now, I like my eighties pop, as you know. Some people, particularly my husband, would say my favorites are sucky. I'm okay with that. Because I like what I like.

Hence, I like this:



It's not so much that I like this song, but I love the performance:



Let's not forget the sixties:



But honestly, Christmas is not Christmas for me until I hear these two songs (I heard one of them today as I was shopping, which inspired this post.)





In conclusion, there are two songs that are my special treasures, for different reasons. The first reminds me what we're doing this all for (and this is the version that lives in my heart):


And this one just makes me cry, because there is no more home:


If I don't have time, and I know I won't, Merry Christmas to you.


















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