Early December Rant

It may surprise you to learn that as much as I love Halloween and Thanksgiving, Christmas leaves me a little cold.

Maybe it’s all the years in retail – listening to hours and hours of piped-in music starting in late October. To say nothing of the rude shoppers, would-be kleptos, , the people who ransack the dressing rooms, and the ones who duck in five minutes before the store closes then stay for a half hour, etc.

That’s not to say I hate Christmas entirely. I enjoy the baking, I love the pretty lights and the smell of a live tree. But I can’t stand the fact that traffic goes haywire, or that you can’t get near a shopping center without nearly hitting a wayward pedestrian, and then, there’s the whole absence of sunlight – especially here in the Eastern part of the Central time zone.

But the thing I hate most about Christmas is one special, loathsome song: “It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” - made famous by one Andy Williams. Evil, evil Andy Williams. See - doesn't he look creepy?

I remember one Christmas about ten years ago, I was newly dumped, recently unemployed, and generally feeling down about my life. That song came on, as I was driving on the interstate, and I about took a sharp left turn into the retaining wall.

First of all, it’s not necessarily the most wonderful time of the year. It’s cold, it’s damp and dark, and if you’re like most people, you’re worried about money and strapped for time. You’re hoping the gifts you bought are well received, and maybe you’re also hoping that you’re going to get something really awesome. You’re eating all the crap that vendors and fellow employees are putting in the breakroom at the office, and if you mindlessly munch another handful of that bright orange cheese popcorn that comes in the tri-flavor tin, you’re going to plotz (Yiddish for burst or explode). Your clothes are tight, and every place you go is either too hot or too cold. You’ve got chapped lips, dry skin, and hair that just won’t stay put.

Second of all, have you actually listened to the lyrics of this song? There’s a line about “scary ghost stories and tales of the glories of Christmases long, long ago”.

Ok, the tales of glory, fine. But scary ghost stories? What the hell? Gather ‘round, kids – tonight Auntie Allison is going to tell you the one about the elf with a hook instead of a hand! No. Just…no. OK – so admittedly, Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” features three ghosts (plus, the ghost of Jacob Marley, so – four ghosts), and they’re probably terrifying to Ebenezer Scrooge, but we’re in on it that he’s a real bastard about to get a come-uppance. So, not scary. Scarier is Tiny Tim hobbling around on his tiny little crutch. Shudder.

In the interest of full disclosure, as a Freshman in High School, I performed a version of said story in the form of a play – “What in the Dickens Happened to Scrooge?” It was fucking great, if you want to know the truth. The fact that we performed it in February is another story altogether, and also reminds me that we knocked down the Christmas tree in the chorus room during rehearsal that year, and I about had a nervous breakdown. It’s funny what you remember. Real funny.


There’s also a point in the song where they rhyme “jingle belling” with “telling”. Precious! But seriously, could they -and by they, I mean Eddie Pola and George Wyle, the writers of this oeuvre- not have come up with something better than “scary ghost stories” to rhyme with “tales of the glories”? Give me five minutes and I’ll give you a few ideas.

I would like to point out that George Wyle was responsible for one of the greatest songs ever – “The Ballad of Gilligan’s Isle”. I postulated some years back that more people know the words to Gilligan than to our National Anthem. I’m just saying – the man can write a catchy TV theme song.

So, yeah. If you hear that song, and see me coming, quickly turn down the radio. Maybe this is the most wonderful time of the year, but I’m not going to let a 1963 pop song dictate it for me.