NEW YORK, Dec. 18, 2016/ Troy Media/ – Another Christmas is upon us. It’s that special time of year when loved ones gather to create lasting memories that will provide fodder for therapists to work with for years to come.
But it’s also about the songs.
If we just thought for a moment about the kind of psychological damage that could arise if little Johnny actually did see mommy kissing Santa Claus, we might not be so quick to sing along.
I shudder thinking of the poor waif being questioned at the divorce proceedings.
“Where did it happen, Johnny?”
“Underneath the mistletoe, sir.”
The permanent scarring would only get worse as Johnny was forced to remember that mommy also kissed the postman, two pilots and that friendly divorced fellow who lives in the split-level across the street – none of them at Christmas.
It was probably equally bad at Johnny’s school when his classmate, Jane, told everyone during show and tell about how grandma got run over by a reindeer. Sniffling, she would hold up a single, bloodied woman’s mitten. In an ironic twist, the hand-knitted mitten had the pattern of a smiling reindeer stitched into the palm.
A now-wailing Jane would explain that it happened while grandma was “walking home from our house Christmas Eve.” This admission led the teacher, Mr. Hornby, to allege elder abuse and ask why no one at Jane’s house had given the old girl a ride in the family SUV.
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“What in blazes is wrong with your parents?” he hollered over and over again while shaking the young girl. Jane was rendered catatonic with fear and grief. Mr. Hornby was placed on paid administrative leave, pending a school district investigation.
But Christmas isn’t only about infidelity and traffic fatalities – it’s also about bullying and harassment. I think the reason the song Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is so loved by children worldwide is that it perfectly reflects the magic of childhood – where being different means being shunned and not invited to play games with the other kids.
Rudolph had a terrible life due to his shiny, red nose – and that’s not even counting his indentured servitude. The only responsible adult in the song is Santa. Shamefully, he wasn’t proactive at all in dealing with Donner, Blitzen and the other emotionally brutal four-hooved tormentors engaging in systematic ostracization.
He only intervened when it was in his own interests. If it hadn’t been for “one foggy Christmas Eve” – which really makes one wonder how many years this went on when the weather was fine – Rudolph probably would have eventually showed up for work carrying nothing but a grudge and a really big gun.
The most wonderful time of the year is also marked by a dramatic relaxing of parental vigilance as our most precious gifts – children – are dressed up, marched forth and made to stand in a line. All this so that, one by one, they can be handed over to a stranger about whom we know nothing – except that he likes disguises and children sitting in his lap.
The surprise victories of Brexit and Donald Trump make me wonder if “dreaming of a white Christmas” has more to do with identity politics than fluffy snowflakes. And I used to think the idea of living on “candy cane lane” was delightful until it was revealed in an undercover police sting to be a neighbourhood where buying crystal meth was as easy as mincemeat pie.
As a society, we’ve reached a plateau of enlightenment sufficient to make it clear that any call to “don we now our gay apparel” is the worst kind of cultural appropriation and stereotyping.
But no matter what the subtext, Christmas songs are an enduring tradition that we joyfully renew each year. Singing along is as much a part of the yuletide season as dangerously overloading extension cords and using Windex for an emergency shoe-shine before church.
As the big day approaches, there really is only one thing left to say to one and all:
Have yourself a merry little Christmas.
Troy Media columnist Gavin MacFadyen is a U.S.-based writer and occasional lawyer. Blending insight and wit, he brings a unique perspective to the issues of the day. Gavin is included in Troy Media’s Unlimited Access subscription plan.
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