On a less serious note than my previous X-mas Curiosities post. Please read the following observations from the author for the intended purposes of humor. If you garner more from what I point out, then it is from your brain, not mine. (Is it sad that I felt the need to place a disclaimer on a satirical piece?)
I’m a father and I have been blessed with a very (mood dependent, of course) gregarious child. We went to a restaurant for lunch on Monday and The Mouse, without any prompting, begins to tell the hostess her full name, that she was going to have a birthday in January and was going to be four years old and that she had a dog named Lucy Lou who was a sweet little puppy and that she was going to get an AMAZING castle with a princesses and two barbies and a sparkly dress and … well, you get the idea. Very amusing, I assure you. The hostess, The Wife, myself, the other couples waiting to be seated, etc. all shared at minimum a smile in this sweet little child, so friendly and happy. But this event was also slightly alarming, at least to me.
Now, since The Mouse was with her parents (us) and she was familiar with the restaurant (The Mouse selected our luncheon dining venue, after all) perhaps this familiarity and safety prompted or at least gave tacit permission for the divulging of such a wide range of personal information. However, I would be horribly remiss as a parent if I didn’t at the very least, teach my child to be cautious of strangers and what we reveal to them. I mean we’ve ALL been taught to beware of strangers, right? Stranger Danger and all that. Don’t take candy from strangers. Ring any bells? Don’t go see the puppy that weirdo says he/she has in his/her car? Be careful about what you reveal online, don’t let anyone have your social security number, that guy at the bar may seem nice, but do you really want to give him your digits, etc?
But yet every year, as soon as Thanksgiving rolls around, we pull, prod, cajole, bribe, threaten and otherwise force or permit our most precious gifts to go sit on a stranger’s lap, tell him what they want in the hopes of getting it, promising that we have been oh so very, very good, let him tickle us and give us hugs and we promise to have a treat for him when he comes to our house in the middle of the night while we sleep, all snug in our beds, dreaming of sugarplums and whatnot. And add to this contradiction in usual behavior, the fact that this peeping-tom is apparently in possession of a surveillance system the CIA has wet-dreams about AND is allowed to pass arbitrary judgement on us according to his own unpublished standards and reward or punish (coal anyone?) is considered ok? Is it just me that sees the irony here? The double standard? And, as usual, one thought like this lead me down the primrose path to:
I saw someone complain about the inclusion of the song “Santa Baby” (written by Joan Javits and Philip Springer and originally sung by Eartha Kitt in 1953 and then used in film, television, and re-recorded by a HOST of other performers since then) as a Holiday standard on playlists and was prompted to ask the question: How is this different than any other request from a potential benefactor, some higher power? I mean isn’t the very act of interviewing for a job or asking a date, applying for a grant, saying a prayer, wishing on a star, writing a letter to Santa, etc. nothing more than a promise of tit for tat (pun intended)? I’ll scratch your back if you’ll scratch mine? I’ll be every so good and you can reward me for my proper behavior by giving me my heart’s desire (reverse this if you want, but isn’t it really the same thing? Commutative Property in mathematics or something?). Is it what’s being asked for? How it’s being asked for? Why its being asked for? All of which is more of an inference than intent which takes into account the viewer’s own predilections rather than the petitioner, i.e. how you view something is more a reflection of you than of the thing viewed? Or maybe it is just a silly song meant ‘tounge-in-cheek’ (“wasp’s sting in his tail… my tongue in your tail?”… Shakespeare reference… Taming of the Shrew, Act II, scene 1. funny stuff)? Perhaps it is meant to be ironic? Perhaps (GASP) someone was being silly and having a little fun with the whole gift request thing?
Other songs that make me wonder about their content:
Baby, It’s Cold Outside (Frank Loesser,1944): The original date rape song? or is she just being coquettish and a tease? And really, listen to how she describes her family. They seem rather dysfunctional, even by todays loose standards.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The character was created in 1939 as an advertising gimmick for Montgomery Ward Catalog (a coloring book) and then turned into a song in the 1940s. Bullying at it’s finest. But the victim, once raised to a position of responsibility and shown favor by the Powers-That-Be (Santa), suddenly he is everyone’s favorite? Craven boot-licking behavior is permissible? It’s ok to bully and exclude someone until they are in a position of authority and then they are ok? Power determines worth?
Deck the Halls(Traditional English Carol): When I was in college, we learned that a lot of these medieval/renaissance “pop” songs (that is what they were, after all) used phrases like Fa la la la la euphemistically. As in code for something else. Some other activity. Perhaps risqué. Ok, fine. It was a code for sex. If that’s the case, putting on our “Gay apparel” (originally bright apparel) suggests going out on a date and hitting the party scene and then Fa la la la la-ing quite a bit. And who says clubbing and casual hook-ups is a new thing?
What Child is This (lyrics 1865 by William Chatterton Dix): Uses the tune from a Traditional english folk song about a woman with “greensleeves”, another code for a woman who spent time on her… arms.. in the grass… getting grass stains on her sleeves… prostitute. Following this line of logic, if I change the words to, oh lets say, Sisco’s “Thong Song” or Nickleback’s “Shakin’ Hands” to a more palatable and religious tone, it’ll be ok?
How The Grinch Stole Christmas/A Christmas Carol: I lumped these two together because of the similar thematic material. Grumpy person transformed mystically (A magical incantation known as a ‘song’ / supernatural visitation by condemned spirits). While heartwarming and charming and even hopeful, I think that we mis the possible criminal issues involved by both protagonists of these tales suggests that we can avoid justice if we just change our ways to the benefit of mankind(of course the whole B & E thing that St. Nick has going on concerns me as well)
A Christmas Story: The complete story itself. Asking for a WEAPON for Christmas? Completely for self-agrandization and possibly play out a violent fantasy in real life with the potential to cause purposeful harm? And not to mention totally ignoring the possible collateral damage and blatant mishandling of a firearm? I won’t even go into the racial profiling and stereo-typing during the restaurant scene.
Elf: Slave labor? Child-stealing/kidnapping and then indoctrination into a ‘cult’? Even if inadvertent and with the best intentions, can we really condone this?
These are just some thoughts that occurred to me. If you are curious, search, think, discover, and make up your own mind. As for me, I would like to wish everyone:
Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Joyous Hanukkah, Festive Kwanzaa, Solem Winter Solstice, And Festivus!!!