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Monday, December 22, 2008

The Greatest Down-and-Out-on-Christmas-Song

Recently Entertainment Weekly ran an article entitled Bah, Humbug: The 100 Greatest Down-and-Out-on- Christmas Songs. Their list placed “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” at the top of the list. Take into consideration that they cited the original soundtrack version from 1944’s Meet Me in St. Louis as the reason. Before a rewrite, the lyrics to the song contained the lines "Have yourself a merry little Christmas / It may be your last / Next year we may all be living in the past" and "Faithful friends who were dear to us / Will be near to us no more". I guess that makes sense in terms of depressing, but since those weren’t on the final cut of the song, I say, “Phooey” on you. Going through the list there is an understandable overload of Country Songs which in my mind is like having Mariah Carey compete against William Hung for American Idol. The playing field is far from level in that battle. That being said, I can agree with most of the songs…at least the ones I know. I do however take exception with the following.

No “Christmas Shoes” Listed.
This has been pointed out in every other comment listed under the article, online. This song is truly depressing. A little boy scrapes together enough money to buy his dying Mother a new pair of shoes for Christmas in case she should meet Jesus, tonight. I mean, come on, I’m tearing up just typing that last sentence. This particular song is on the DNP (Do Not Play) list in my life. If I’m driving down the road, holding a scolding cup of coffee in one hand and a map in the steering wheel in the other, I will either gladly crash the car or burn myself just to switch stations. My wife, who is a glutton for punishment, has to listen to this song, even though it depresses her. The fact that EW neglects to even list this song in the bottom half of the list means one of two things, the author, either never heard of the song, which I find hard to believe, or they have mentally blocked it out altogether.

“Same Old Lang Syne” at a measly 26.
At 26, it is hard to fathom that 25 other songs…besides country ones, were more depressing than the story of two old lovers who find themselves years later in a grocery store on Christmas Eve. Both have led comfortable but unfulfilled lives since their departure at school. The sustained silence between them lasts forever, or at least longer than a six pack and they can't find any more common ground like the memories of Auld Lang Syne. Soon they realize they have nothing more to say and they part ways as the snow turns to rain.

Now that’s depressing. Not only are they living hollow, albeit successful, lives, the years have transformed them so much that not even memories are enough to sustain a conversation outside of six beers. Leave it to Dan Fogelberg to pull off that one...from a real life experience, no less.

The Most Depressing Christmas Song Isn't Even Listed.
While not everyone will agree with my choice, I suggested that there was another song missing from the list. A song of childhood dreams unknowingly smashed to pieces. Among the broken shards are the security of a marriage flung aside by the outright betrayal of a mother, who dares to bring her infidelities home on Christmas. Her child sees the act, not fully grasping the implications of such a heinous crime to their happy home. Then, when it appears that maybe there has been mistake and the sacred vows of matrimony are spared, they are replaced with the realization that everything a child holds dear at Christmas is a huge fat lie. I’m of course speaking of “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.”

Let’s examine the evidence….The child in the song has snuck downstairs to catch a glimpse of the elusive St. Nick, only to discover him necking with his mother underneath the mistletoe. Unaware of the audience, who knows how far the act will continue. Santa might even unpack his Yule log. The child, clearly oblivious to this desecration, find it humorous to imagine his Father walking in on the act. Could you imagine the devastation in the child’s eyes were he to see a furious Father walking in and dispatching Santa with his 12 gauge? Ghastly! Then and only then is the listener entreated to the secret that it’s really Santa underneath that beard all snowy white. You want to ensure that you child remains in therapy well into his adult years? It’s bad enough that he’s spying on what could be considered adultery. But what happens if he were to question it? “Hey, Daddy. I saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus.” “Oh, well, that’s ok.” Dad, doesn’t realize that he’s just instilled the idea that it’s ok to kiss men, other than a spouse or significant other, passionately. Just think, in 20 years, you’re son or daughter could be relying on these lessons to explain away their own acts of infidelity. Lastly, if you choose to let your little one in on the ruse that you were the jolly old St. Nick, you’ve now blown their little imaginations to shreds. “So, if you were Santa Claus, that means…there is no real Santa Claus?” or “My Daddy is Santa, be nice to me or you’ll get a lump of coal next year.” In any case, the only thing you’ll be stuffing into their stocking is Prozac. That is down and out, depressing. Get that kid a leather couch.

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