I apologize in advance to readers of non-Christian or nonexistent faiths. I've heard a Hanukkah song or two, something about a dreidel, but it was every bit as insipid as "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer." And lest anybody write me off as a complete Scrooge, there's one holiday song I do like, by Adam Sandler. It's something about smoking marijuanica on Hanukkah, but hardly anyone ever plays that.
1. "Here We Come A-Wassailing." I looked up "wassailing" in the dictionary. It means "a drinking bout." I can't quote all the lyrics here, but the second stanza is, we are not daily beggars that beg from door to door; but we are neighbors' children whom you have seen before. We have a little purse made of leather skin, we want a little money to line it well within.
What? This song is about drunken children showing up at the door hustling money. The so-called "Gloucestershire Wassail" is even worse: Come butler and fill us a bowl of your best, and we hope your soul in heaven may rest: But if you do bring us a bowl of the small, then down shall go butler and bowl and all. So not only are these little drunken bastards after dough, they want more booze and threaten violence to get it. Someone should call the police.
2. "Do You Know What I Know?" Said the shepherd boy to the mighty king, do you know what I know? ... A Child, a Child shivers in the cold--let us bring him silver and gold. OK, granted, this guy is just a dumb shepherd, but what's a shivering kid going to do with silver and gold? It would make a lot more sense to bring Him a blanket or a jacket.
3. "Jingle Bells." As far as I can tell, this is a song about animal abuse, mostly from the second verse, but it's present in the first as well. Bells on bobtail ring, making spirits bright. As a horse owner of many years, I can state unequivocally that were you to tie bells to a horse's tail, bob or otherwise, it would scare the shit out of it, and it would flee in panic. So these people are having a smashing old time, probably having gone out wassailing earlier, while the horsey runs fast through the snow. In the second verse, the horse was lean and lank, misfortune seemed his lot, we ran into a drifted bank, and there we got upsot. These lager louts run this pathetic skeletal animal aground in a snow bank. I have no idea what "upsot" means, since it isn't in the dictionary. Maybe the drunks who wrote this song had a hard time coming up with real words to make rhymes with.
4. "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus." OK, so the kid sees Mommy kissing Santa Claus underneath the mistletoe last night. I simply can't help thinking there's more going on here than is initially obvious. If this is the real Daddy, and you don't want the kid to see you, why dress up in a Santa suit in the first place? If you do want the kid to see you, why traumatize him by shoving your tongue down his mother's throat?
5. "White Christmas." Irving Berlin. One question: What's the son of a Jewish cantor doing writing Christmas songs? Maybe he's dreaming of a white Christmas because he never had one. He had white Hanukkahs instead. Why couldn't he write about snowflakes on the menorah and the smell of freshly baked babka? Was he simply a popularist, or was his music publisher Mel Gibson in his previous incarnation?
6. "The Little Drummer Boy." Never mind that there's no mention of a drummer boy in the biblical nativity story; it seems that this song illustrates not the divinity of Jesus, but that of His mother. She's been dragging her pregnant ass through the cold desert all night, gives birth in a barn and then is forced to receive uninvited guests thrusting frankincense and myrrh upon her when what she really needs is diapers. Then, when things finally settle down, and she gets baby Jesus to sleep, a kid shows up banging a drum. If it had been me, he would have gotten a face full of oxen manure and a boot up his backside. But Mary is a nice lady and lets the kid bang away until the baby Jesus smiles at him.
Yeah, right. A newborn infant smiling. As any good pediatrician will tell you, it was undoubtedly only gas.