It’s that time of year again. Actually, it was that time of year right around the middle of September, as multitudes of retail stores started receiving holiday items in their processing backrooms. Few things are less festive a sight than more than 100 columns of more than a dozen cardboard boxes stacked vertically to the steel rafters, stuffed inside each a cutesy, Christmas-themed tchochke reminding you to be good, for goodness’ sake, OR ELSE.
Also up near the rafters are speakers, some wired, some wireless, but all tuned in to the in-store audio feed, once commonly called Muzak. In some store locations, the holiday tunes have already begun at that moment, meaning the employees of this establishment have heard the same clutch of holly-jolly tunes – same songs over and over, but different artists giving their special spin to them – 90 quadjillion* times.
(*If “quadjillion” is not a real numeric term, it should be.)
This also means that, within that quadjillion, they’ve heard “Sleigh Ride” at least a septillion* times.
(*Editor’s note: See “quadjillion.”)
I personally have no qualms about the usage of “holiday” versus “Christmas.” I think both are equally valid and should be used often, and without grievance. This is supposed to be a season of joy, bolstered by Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, solstice festivals, and on. If you want to say “Christmas,” do it. No one ever has stopped you from doing so and no one ever will. Likewise, if someone wishes you, a “Christmas”-using participant, a happy holiday, wish them likewise and don’t get angry about it. Remember, it is the thought that counts.
What I do have qualms about – many and much qualm, in fact – is the song “Sleigh Ride,” a song so calculating and cloying, and so treacly that people had to get limbs amputated because of the diabetic shock of just listening to them,* that all the tune evokes within me is the marvel of its engineering. It is a ditty formulated to please everyone and succeeds in pleasing no one.
(*I have no hard evidence that a song can cause diabetes, but I heard from some dude one time that he heard a doctor, who heard it from a clinician, who got it from an episode of The Dr. Oz Show that a septillion-quadjillion people lose limbs every year due to cheesy-song-exposure.)
For starters, the lyrics are merely one step above baby talk, with all the rosy, comfy, cozy, skeezy-weezy being peddled. The cliches hit hard and fast with Farmer Grey serving up pumpkin pie and everyone is all giggly, their faces aglow with love and camaraderie, or maybe the onset of frostbite.
You might rightly ask why this song irks me so much where a similar track…say, “Winter Wonderland,” is less troublesome. The latter track at least calls it out immediately in the title. It has planted a flag in the season, and has left it up to the listener to make that tie-in to whatever holiday they choose, or none at all. At least there’s that much. And yes, I realize that “Sleigh Ride” blurts out some dribble about “a wintery fairyland” in the back quarter of the song, but I call B.S. Sounds like someone made the songwriters do that. Further, “wintery” is not “winter.” You can have wintery weather in early spring, and wintery isn’t really a word, either. Why must we turn this into a house of lies?
Finally, who gets sleigh rides? Occasionally, and almost entirely by accident, average people may get a chance to ride in a sleigh. Mostly, it will be trust fund kids who are always comfy cozy because they don’t have to work, and they’re nice and rosy because they’re boozing it up behind Farmer Grey’s barn. These things are the wonderful things they won’t remember all through their lives because short-term memory loss has set in as a side effect of cirrhosis of the liver.
I think if we should have to take up arms against yuletide oppression, let’s not hurt each other because one person wishes you a “happy holiday” and another wishes you a “Merry Christmas.” They mean well. They’re trying to be nice, if not jolly, which is difficult in these hard, overtly political times. People are trying to find common ground, attempting to make peace, and we should not turn either greeting into the grave offense they clearly never were.
If we must expose the bayonets and charge, let us all charge against a true common enemy. Let’s drive “Sleigh Ride” back into the mildewed Currier & Ives print from whence it came, fold it up, fly it into a bonfire, and be done with it.
P.S.: I’m not bitter.