Friday, December 20, 2013

COLUMN: Creepy Carols

Well, it's official. Turkey has been digested, the malls have been raided, and my calender finally says the word December on it. Let me proudly be one of the LAST ones to welcome you to the holiday season. And since it IS the most wonderful time of year, I thought I'd step into Christmas by devoting a few days to nothing but holiday music on my radio dial.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the mistletoe: I started actually LISTENING to those songs. And when you actually pay attention to the words of Christmas carols, one thing becomes abundantly clear: they're creepy as all get out. For every tiding of comfort and joy, there's also lyrics that range from puzzling to downright disturbing.

Don't believe me? Fine, let's ruin your childhood the same way I just wrecked mine. Here's my list of the Creepiest Christmas Carols out there:

#10 - "I Saw Three Ships" - It's either symbolism or an ode to the merits of hallucinogens. "I saw three ships come sailing in on Christmas Day." Okay, if you've got nothing better to do with your holiday than check out boats, then more power to ya. Heck, after a massive meal with my entire extended family, I might yearn for the solitude of maritime observational duties, too. But then "they sailed into Bethlehem on Christmas Day in the morning." Oookay... well, except that Bethlehem is nowhere near water. In fact, it's pretty much surrounded by the Judean Mountains. If you saw three ships sailing into Bethlehem, you might want to put down the myrrh.

#9 - "Here We Come A'wassailing" - The most joyous song ever written about underage children begging for beer. Who needs fake ID's when you've got a catchy wassail? "We are not daily beggars that beg from door to door, but we are your neighbor's children whom you have seen before... Call up the butler of this house, put on his golden ring, let him bring us up a glass of beer and better we shall sing." And while you're getting us drunk, give us some money, too. "We have got a little purse of stretching leather skin/We want a little of your money to line it well within." Love and joy, come to you... IF you fork over booze and cash.

#8 - "We Wish You A Merry Christmas" - Otherwise known as the Holiday Home Invasion. By this time, the wassailing is done and there's no more love and joy come to you. No, the message is now very simple. (1) Merry Christmas. Whatever. (2) Make with the figgy pudding. Now. (3) WE WON'T GO UNTIL WE GET SOME. Is it a charming message of holiday merriment or grounds for a criminal trespass charge? Try this experiment: Go walk down the street, bang on your neighbor's door, demand pudding and threaten not to leave. See how far it gets you.

#7 - "I'll Be Home for Christmas" - Except that I won't be, because life is full of crushing disappointment and despair. What starts as a heartfelt holiday plea ("Please have some snow and mistletoe and presents by the tree") comes crashing to reality at the end ("I'll be home for Christmas/If only in my dreams.") You might as well re-name the song "I Absolutely Positively Will NOT Be Home For Christmas So Let's Be Super Sad."

#6 - "Mele Kalikimaka" - Because let's face it, an island Christmas is just plain creepy. Santa belongs in a wool suit and decidedly NOT hanging ten on a righteous wave. Call me closed-minded, but the ukulele is just NOT an acceptable replacement for sleigh bells. Lush beaches are fine for the other 364 days of the year, but December 25th is the ONE time when we snow-dwelling idiots get to WIN. It's a beautiful sight and we're happy tonight, so keep your palm trees to yourself.

#5 - "Up On The Housetop" - Let's just ignore the fact that it's another gender sterotyping song where little girls get dollies for Christmas. Instead, let's focus on what Santa brings Little Will: "Here is a hammer with lots of tacks, also a ball and a whip that cracks." 50 Shades of Little Will better be disappointed. If my kid handed me a Christmas list that said "hammer, tacks, ball, and whip," I as a parent might be a touch concerned.  

#4 - "The 12 Days of Christmas" - Certain things set off red flags in any relationship. Drop the L-word on the first date? Red flag. Talk about your ex all the time? Red flag. But if your true love shows up on Christmas week with 78 presents? HUGE red flag. And let's just talk logistics for a second here. Does your house have the structural integrity to support ten lords a'leaping when you haven't even had time to don your gay apparral? Not to mention the partridge, turtle doves, French hens, calling birds, geese a-laying, and seven swans fighting over one bathtub. You've also got 8 maids a-milking God only knows what and pipers and drummers EVERYWHERE. You're not just breaking numerous pet and sound ordinances, but your true love appears to be deeply involved in the underground world of human trafficking.

#3 - "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" - RUN FOR YOUR LIFE! His belly might shake like a bowl full of jelly, but that doesn't stop jolly old St. Nick from being an Orwellian nightmare sent from the beyond to cast his judgement upon thee. You'd better watch out, indeed. Dude knows when you're sleeping and knows when you're awake, and you'd better be good for goodness sake. You might as well just call this song "Have a Tearful Fearful Christmas."

#2 - "Down In Yon Forest" - This one's a traditional English Christmas carol that doesn't get a whole lot of contemporary play, because it's basically the virgin birth reimagined as a scene from Hellraiser. I'll spare you the details, but there's a forest, and in yon forest is a hall, and in yon hall is a bed "stained with blood like cardinal red" and under yon bed is a "gushing flood, from Christ's own side, 'tis water and blood" and there's seriously a dog that licks up the blood and that's when I shudder and change yon channel.

#1 - "Baby It's Cold Outside" - Because nothing rings in the holiday spirit quite like a good old-fashioned Yuletide date rape. It might be the most charming duet of all time... until you realize it's about a girl who wants to go home and a guy who really really does NOT want that to happen, up to and including possibly slipping a holiday roofie into her eggnog. Ain't love grand?

So I'm officially done with seasonal tunes this year. I need something more wholesome... now where'd I put that Eminem CD?

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