I have a sibling who is quite a bit younger than I am. There’s enough age difference that, upon my parents’ announcement of his existence, all of their friends gave them the wink-wink-elbow-poke-to-the-ribs remarks of, “Ohhhh hey, a little surprise there, huh?” and then my parents had to sigh and politely explain that no, this was not the case and hey thanks for wanting to explain how these babies happen and let us also politely clothesline you on your way out the door. Anyway. After the explaining and the looking for new friends, we settled into life with a baby. My older brother Travis and I were thrilled. Let’s be honest. I was more thrilled than he was since I’d maintained my status as only girl, thereby securing for all eternity, or at least for all childhood, my rights to my own bedroom, leaving big brother with a new roomie, one who cried at regular late-night intervals and stunk up the space with his lack of potty training skills. I still don’t feel a bit bad about my glee.
Somewhere along the road, however, Travis and I realized that this younger brother journey had a few potholes. We navigated the new adventures like being called upon to babysit, teaching the kid everything he needed to know, giving him our wise guidance, and, oh yes: Watching our parents turn into unrecognizable creatures who suddenly threw things like rules and standards and discipline out the window. Travis and I were raised by a mother who gave us HEALTH FOOD STORE purchases in our Easter baskets. I didn’t know what a real M&M looked like until adulthood, people. And now? Now that the baby of the family was here and the shop was closed for good? Mountain Dew for breakfast! Christmas stockings overflowing with a strange new substance called...I think...candy. We had just begun to adjust to this traumatic new life when the greatest challenge of all occurred. Justin, the blessed baby child, was in elementary school and was faced with the time-honored tradition of having to choose which musical instrument he would pursue in the esteemed required class known as grade school band. He had mentioned, in passing, that he’d always been interested in the drums, a comment which caused Travis and me to roll around on the Lego-covered floor (Justin’s Legos, of course. No MegaBlox for this kid) and cackle. Ha. Mom and Dad would never allow the drums! When Travis had asked for this musical option years before, they’d informed him, with great gravity, that drums were not a REAL instrument.
I think you know how this story goes. Justin got the drums.
I share this tragic tale as more than just the world’s longest introduction to my actual point. I believe this childhood trauma reveals why I’ve always disliked the song Little Drummer Boy. Or perhaps it reveals that I need therapy. That’s more likely. But in reviewing my distaste for the above-mentioned song, I realized that there are several strange Christmas tunes we all listen to each year, and perhaps you have found them odd as well. In no particular order, here are my top offenders:
Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas: I first heard this ditty when Judy Garland warbled it out a window in the classic movie, Meet Me In St. Louis, and all I could think was: This is anything but merry, Judy. The dreary, dragging tune sounds like you are sarcastically eye-rolling your way through all that talk of holiday cheer. Also, would you kindly pick up the pace a bit? This song runs on for the length of an extensive root canal and is about as much fun, and the line telling us our troubles will be far away next year is what we all told ourselves at the end of 2016. Such innocent times those were.
All I Want for Christmas Is You: When Mariah first blasted into our boomboxes with this classic, it became an instant hit. But I think the truth is, it describes our Instagram selves more than our real-life feelings. It’s who we say we want to be, but it’s nobody I want to be friends with. The lyric which states that we don’t need a present under the tree and we only need you? Whoever this mysterious you person is? That is what’s known in psychology terms as bull crappery. We all want presents, and if I sing that song to you, for the love of Amazon.com, don’t actually believe me, or Christmas morning will not go well with you, which is to say: It will not be a scene your Instagram self will want to post. Amen.
We Three Kings: Oh, who am I kidding. We only sing this one so we can work in the verse you won’t find in your hymnals: the one about them puffing on a rubber cigar. You haven’t found the true meaning of Christmas in your heart until you’ve sung that one.
Mary, Did You Know? Actually, no, she didn’t. Other than that whole Angel Gabriel monologue, which was a little sketchy with the details, and it also seems he didn’t stick around for a Q&A, that sweet teenage girl had no clue what she was getting into. So we could sing the first line of this song and promptly reply with, “Negative” and save ourselves 3.5 minutes of our lives.
The Little Drummer Boy: I have to round out my list with this beauty, since it is the cause of my aforementioned angst. This song is problematic from the get-go. I’ve been a mother of a newborn. I’ve been around many mothers of newborns. And what I’ve never heard them say is, “You know what I wish someone would bring us right now? A little kid playing a drum solo.” No. Just no. What Mary was obviously too kind to declare was that she had just spent 124 minutes feeding and rocking and shushing her newborn baby while trying to keep barnyard animals from chewing on his toes and he had finally gotten to sleep and you’re going to come in here with a DRUM? Would it have killed you to bring something useful like, oh...it’s hard to know what they needed, and this could be a reach, but….a CRIB? The other, just as irritating part of this song is that you have to suffer through 18 verses for the big finish which, spoiler alert, is this: He smiled at the kid. I hate to be a Scrooge but a newborn smiling? Any parent worth his salt can tell you it’s gas, little drummer boy.
So there you have it. Five of the most annoying Christmas songs ever. But they’re part of our soundtrack, so we’ll sing along (or at least mumble the lyrics we can remember) and deck the halls and laugh all the way and long to be home for Christmas.
But I really, really mean it. I want presents. Even if I sing that I don’t. I’m serious. Mariah was way off base.