Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Tis the season for schmaltzy, mushy, holiday movies, programs, and songs…

I love advent, but I can barely stomach the "Holiday Season" as pop culture understands and celebrates it. I don't like to shop (except when I need new camo or other hunting paraphernalia), but I really can't stand listening to the Christmas/Holiday songs that are piped in shopping centers and stores. The commercialism of it all sickens me. Just today I heard some of the worst songs ever-

Have yourself a merry little Christmas,

Let your heart be light

From now on,

our troubles will be out of sight

Have yourself a merry little Christmas,

Make the Yule-tide gay,

From now on,

our troubles will be miles away.

Silver Bells

Christmas makes you feel emotional

It may bring parties or thoughts devotional

Whatever happens or what may be,

Here is what Christmas time means to me.

City sidewalk, busy sidewalks

dressed in holiday style.

In the air there's

a feeling of Christmas.

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas;

Soon the bells will start,

And the thing that will make them ring is the carol that you sing

Right within your heart.

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas

Just like the ones I used to know

Where the treetops glisten

and children listen

To hear sleigh bells in the snow.

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas

With every Christmas card I write

May your days be merry and bright

And may all your Christmases be white.

Total Gag!!!

These songs and many, many others, exemplify a cheesey sentimentalism that has been attached to what has generically been labeled “The Holidays”. Even the root meaning of “Holiday”, which is literally “Holy Day”, has been obscured by our desire for warm, fuzzy, almost escapist emotions and mushy, sappy, feelings.

So, for this Advent season, to rescue us from the blitz of schmaltziness, I am going to periodically review some of the great Advent hymns of the faith with a goal to helping us gain a true understanding of the significance of Christ's incarnation.

The first installation will be coming soon...


Zach said...

Both/And, Brother Tony, both/and. Merry times, snowy days, and sleigh bells are good things. We should never let them overshadow the celebration of Christ's birth, but there's no harm in enjoying the temporal accoutrements of the season!

What you need is a green turtleneck dickie, a generous serving of homemade eggnog in a crystal moose-shaped goblet, and a Johnny Mathis Christmas CD! :)

That being said, I agree that Advent is a liturgical season that is too easily glossed over these days, and I'm looking forward to your review of its hymns.

Reepicheep said...

Z, did you just reference a "green turleneck dickie"? Dude...you're scaring me.

Rick Calohan said...


Some of these songs were or became famous during World War II and were an inspiration to our troops fighting in war and away from home. So before you kick them to the curb at least the original versions of White Christmas, I’ll be Home for Christmas,
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, Silver Bells, I’ll be Home for Christmas, and well this was a way for Bing Crosby and Bob Hope to share a little cheer to our homesick boys more than commercialization of Christmas. At least they all mentioned Christmas, for more historical significance I recommend:


The Last Mohican! said...

Zach has the right balance here and his comments are succinct. I personally like many of the secular holiday songs. Yeah the season is way over commercialized but it is a time of year to gather with the extended family over food and drink watching the football games while a fire roars in the fireplace. Giving gifts and giving hugs.

But Christmas is not Christmas to me unless I go to church on Christmas Eve. I love even more the songs of the Christmas story. I heard Silent Night even in German and I was touched! Beyond the facade of lights and trees and the such is the Real Christ given to fallen humanity. What a gift of love! His grace for for an undeserving people is far better than any gift a person can receive. Yeah the Cross gives a clearer direction than any nose on a reindeer!

We Christians can and should engage with secular holiday festivities rendering to Santa what is Santa but more importantly look beyond with an eternal perspective for the true Joy that awaits us!

the last mohican ")

Malcolm said...

Tony, I am being serious here and not my normal smart #$% self. I think that it's just fine to enjoy yourself and be completely sentimental with this stuff as long as you keep it in perspective. "Have yourself A Merry Little Christmas" is a song that brings tears to my eyes because of memories of my late mother and brother. The Frank Sinatra Christmas Album was a staple at the holidays in our house. One particular Christmas my brother was home on Christmas leave from the Naval Acadaemy and the album just been released. We listened to it time after time. My brother went back to school and my mom was sad and missed him greatly after only one day. My mother's cure for sadness was to get busy. This day she decided to clean the entry hall floor on her hands and knees. She made the mistake of putting on the Sinatra album while she was scrubbing. At the end of "Have yourself..." Old Blue Eyes delivers a very impish and sweet "Merry Christmas" after the music stops, which really tugs at your heart. When Frank said Merry Christmas my mother sat sobbing in the middle of the entry hall floor. Like Zach, I don't plan to let these songs overshadow the meaning of Christmas. But I promise you one thing, the Sinatra Christmas Album will always have a place in my heart and will get played every Christmas season in our house. I hope you can enjoy some of these songs with a different perspective. Like Rick said, they are from a different time and have a sentimental value that your generation doesn't appreciate.

pjw said...

I don't have a problem with the secular Christmas songs - I just don't like them mixed together with the Christian songs. Even Christian artists have a mix of both on their CD's! Even Nathan Clark George has "I'll Be Home for Christmas" on his Christmas CD. Along with Rick's comment about that song, my husband said that one made him really homesick when he was stationed overseas one Christmas. You should stroll around Hobby Lobby sometime, Tony. They play Christian music all the time!

Reepicheep said...

Malcolm, Rick, and my other sentimental friends-

Your points are well taken, well said. I'm must messin' around a bit.

Woody Woodward said...

I believe my favorite is “Grandma got run-over by a reindeer”, by the famous classy Okie, Dr Elmo. That’s indeed an inspiring Christmas classis!

jeff said...

I think you're just lashing out because of all the pee-can/pih-cahn comments...


Malcolm said...

I have a sneaking hunch that Tony, who won an Elvis impersonation contest as a mere lad, has a soft spot in his heart for Elvis' Blue Christmas. I will agree on the smaltz factor on that one.