I love Christmas. Even though by the time December rolls around I am so set in the drudgery of months on end without a gift giving holiday that I’m always caught off guard, I still enjoy it. This year I’m making more of an effort to get my act together, particularly when it comes to getting in the Christmas spirit. This is because every year I go through a brief set of Boxing Day Blues, when I realize that I have exactly four days to enjoy the last of the Christmas music I’ve been avoiding all month.
I love Christmas music too, but in all honesty, it gets a bit old. I am a devout fan of Christmas movies, too, but you can only watch The Muppets Christmas Story, Christmas Vacation, and Elf so many years in a row before it just loses all effect. I feel a wee bit Scroogish every time I groan when my Mom suggests we pop one of these time honored classics in and make a night of it, but honestly, I don’t think it’s my fault.
Every ten years, on the equinox some random planets passing through the blazing path of the Christmas star, three wise men in the music industry get together and start goading some poor, harried songwriter into writing a new Christmas classic, and eight weeks and $10k later, poof! We have a new Christmas song that we actually enjoy hearing on the radio, even if its only because it’s not about chestnuts roasting on an open fire. We all love chestnuts, but we need to add a little variety to our musical diet, am I right?
This tradition goes way back to the days when King Henry VIII fell in love with Anne Boelyn and needed a new way to convince her that he like liked her, not just liked her, because she was sick of getting his first wife’s hand-me-down crown jewels. He commissioned some poor minstrel to write a love ballad that would make her weep with joy, and when the uninspired bard broke down in tears at the King’s feet, afraid he would lose his head if he couldn’t come up with something to please his majesty, King Jonathan Rhys Meyers VII screamed, “ I don’t give a damn about the bloody lyrics, right about the color of her sleeves for all I care, just WRITE SOMETHING!” And thus a tradition of giving gifts of obligation was born, carried over with the pilgrims even as they left in the wake of the bloody severed heads of King Henry’s true loves.
If I were King of the United States, I would issue a decree that everyone in the music industry and the film industry must be forced to sit down and write something Christmas themed at least once in their careers. Chances are they wouldn’t come up with much, but at least it would be new, and the more people who are giving it a shot, the more of a chance we’ll term up a gold nugget like “Last Christmas” by Wham! or, be I so bold to hope, something else to rerun from thanksgiving to New Years besides “A Christmas Story.” And anyone who refused to give it a go would get their head chopped off.
To elaborate my point, I have compiled a list of all the songs that I actually know that were written by people who might still be alive. Notice the list drops off after 1994!
List of Original Christmas Songs Written after 1940
The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire) by Nat King Cole – written in 1944
Blue Christmas popularized by Elvis Presley – written in 1948
Santa Baby by Eartha Kitt – written in 1953
Jingle Bell Rock by Bobby Helms – written in 1957
Rocking Around the Christmas Tree by Brenda Lee – written in 1958
Christmas Wrapping by the Waitresses – written in 1981
Last Christmas by Wham! – written in 1984
All I Want for Christmas by Mariah Carey – written in 1994
OFF WITH THEIR HEADS!!