Do you hear what I hear?

I pay more attention to Christmas lyrics than any normal person ought to. I think this is because one afternoon, when I was six years old, my grandpa read A Visit from St. Nicholas (aka “Twas The Night Before Christmas”) aloud to me, and though I’d probably heard the poem dozens of times by then, I hadn’t realized that the narrator–maybe Clement C. Moore himself–vomits right in the middle of the story. It happens not too long after that part with the sugar plums dancing in the heads and so on, right after out on the lawn there arose such a clatter.

” ‘I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter!’ ” my grandfather read. I loved his voice. ” ‘Away to the window I flew like a flash,’ ” he continued. ” ‘Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.‘ “

He stopped for a second. “Uh-oh,” he said. “He threw up.”

“Really?” I said. I could definitely understand why someone might throw up on Christmas Eve. Sometimes I worried that I would.

“Poor fella,” my grandpa said. It was good to know that a little puke didn’t necessarily ruin a Christmas, but all the same, I don’t think I ever asked anyone to read me the story again.

Anyway, that might explain why I am the way I am now. Here is a list of holiday song lyrics that bother me:

Lyric: “It doesn’t show signs of stopping,/ And I brought some corn for popping.” Reason: It’s POPCORN. Who calls it “corn for popping,” the Pennsylvania Dutch? And who brings pantry items on a date? What else does she have in her purse–Cocoa for Heating? Cake of Fruiting? The protagonist of this song is a crazy food-hoarder with convoluted syntax, and I hate having to think of Ella Fitzgerald that way when she sings this.

Lyric: “And so I’m offering this simple phrase/ To kids from one to ninety-two.” Reason: Excuse me, Nat King Cole, but I think “Merry Christmas to You” has long been in the public domain, so to offer it, especially with some arbitrary bullshit age limit, seems awfully cheap. Actually, I hate this song in general, since it’s called “The Christmas Song” in a very knowing, meta way, and has no story or point other than to be a purely fetishistic inventory of Christmas imagery, with that crass “offer” of commodified goodwill in the last verse. This song is all about Jack Frost nipping at your SOUL, for God’s sake. Pass the crack pipe, Natalie.

Lyric: “You will get a sentimental/ feeling when you hear /Voices singing let’s be jolly,/deck the halls with boughs of holly.” Reason: “You will get a sentimental feeling” sounds unsettlingly like a hypnotic suggestion. Also, “let’s be jolly” is not anywhere in “Deck the Halls,” duh, so the only time you’ll ever hear voices sing, specifically, “let’s be jolly, deck the halls with boughs of holly,” is in this song, which means this song is referring to ITSELF and the sentimental feeling you’ll supposedly get next time you hear it, and the next time after that, and on and on into infinity this song will tell you how to feel.

Lyric: “Here comes Santa Claus! Here comes Santa Claus! Riding down Santa Claus Lane!” Reason: Gene Autry had to have pulled these lines out of his butt. Sorry, but he did.

Lyric: “In the meadow we can build a snowman, /And pretend that he’s a circus clown. We’ll have lots of fun with Mister Snowman,/ Until the other kiddies knock him down.” Reason: Okay–building a snowman in order to pretend it’s a circus clown is just fucking demented. It’s like building a robot and pretending it’s Dracula. Or putting a sock on your hand and pretending it’s the Incredible Hulk. It makes no imaginative sense whatsoever. Anyway, the people in this song already built a clergyman snowman and pretended to discuss their marriage plans with it, which is admittedly bizarre, but you can at least sort of see the point, and then presumably these are consenting adults here, since they are talking about love and marriage and facing their future and they use the word “conspire” in the fourth verse and everything–so why do they suddenly regress in the very next verse and build a retarded snow-clown and blather about “the other kiddies?” Wonderland or not, we need continuity here, guys. On the other hand, I did come across a really interesting alternate version of this verse that involves ALLIGATORS–no really, read it: they talk about having fun with Mister Snowman until the alligators knock him down–and, well, that changes everything and makes the whole premise completely surreal in a way that I fully support.

Comments from 2004.