Afternoon Inquisition, 12.26

Well I hope you are all in an eggnog-induced haze from yesterday and feeling content and full of good cheer.  Barring that, I hope you got some good deals during the after-Christmas sales.  You’re also probably sick of the ever-present Christmas music that’s been playing since August (it seems).  Today’s question started out as a Twitter question on Christmas eve but we had fun with it, so I thought I’d expand it:

What Christmas carol lyric makes you go ‘huh?’

For example, “Gone away is the blue bird, here to stay is the new bird.’

Alternatively, you can bitch about the presents you wanted to get and didn’t. :)


Maria D'Souza grew up in different countries around the world, including Hong Kong, Trinidad, and Kenya and it shows. She currently lives in the Bay Area and has an unhealthy affection for science fiction, Neil Gaiman and all things Muppet.

Related Articles


  1. I’m at work, I don’t get the day after Xmas off. Of course I chose to do that but any way…

    I rarely pay that much attention to christmas carol lyrics as I prefer to not listen to christmas carols.

  2. The WHOLE song “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” It’s not a Christmas carol, per se, so much as it is a song set in winter that tends to be played a lot near Christmas.

    The biggest problem I have with the song is that it is, quite apparently, a song about date rape. The woman routinely tries to leave, only to be plied with suspicious alcohol and continued exhortations that it is too cold for her to go home.

    It’s a very disturbing song, really.

  3. I never really understood what ‘wassalling’ implied.. For most of my childhood I thought it had something to do with making breakfast but apparently I was wrong…

  4. Every single line of “The 12 Days of Christmas” just gets worse and worse. After I was given an unsolicited partridge (regardless of the kind of tree), that twisted frakker wouldn’t get near me with the turtle doves.

    Seriously. Was this written for someone who wanted to own an aviary and couldn’t get the stock? Out of that first week of Christmas, I have 28 birds and five rings. I’m not that much into the bling myself, but it would be a welcome change from all the bird shit.

    After the first week, things perk up and “my true love” starts bringing me women. Seventeen girls in two days — I hope roasted calling bird has some potent protein. But this isn’t the 14th century — just because they are dragged to my front door doesn’t mean I can unilaterally command a fortnight of debauchery. If I tried anything, I’m quite sure those women (nine of whom are athletes, the others are working farm girls) could beat me to death.

    Do the maids a-milking bring their own cows? If so, that will at least make me forget about the bird shit, but I can’t really call it “for the win.”

    Then I get 10 leaping lords? That sounds like something Robin would shout to Batman in a moment of surprise. Fuck that. If they have so much energy, they can shovel cow shit.

    (When they say “lords” do they mean some sort of aristocracy, or 10 guys dressed as Jesus? Both are distressing, but the Jesuses add a touch of surrealism I’d quite enjoy, especially if they are leaping among the cow flops like they are auditioning for The Nutcracker.)

    Then the fife and drum corps show up the last two days. I’m afraid that would be that. You would all see me being pushed into a police car with a jacket ineffectively covering my face.

    Two unbearable weeks that will turn me vegetarian, asexual, violent, and totally against Christmas.

    Also: I really hate that “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” song too.

  5. @phlebas:
    Well it’s obviously the work of a crazy person therefore the crazy person sex rule applies, but you’re right this is really pushing it to the relm of restraining order.

  6. Christmas future is far away
    Christmas past is past
    Christmas present is here today

    Thanks for just wasting 45 seconds of my life to explain christmas chronology to me.

  7. The term “new old-fashioned way” from “Rockin’ around the Christmas tree” always makes me puzzle, till my puzzler is sore.

  8. “We’ll conspire as we dream by the fire”… sounds like something truthers would do.

    “We can build a snowman and pretend that he is parson brown”… sounds like something a schizophrenic creationist would do.

  9. “Here Comes Santa Claus” right down Santa Claus Lane …. “So let’s give thanks to the Lord above that Santa Claus comes tonight.” Assuming that those that would stop to “give thanks” to “the Lord above” are religious believers, wouldn’t they have more significant things to thank G-d for than Santa Claus.

    @phlebas The rare times I’ve given it a thought I’ve thought of the “lords” as aristocrats (like members of the House of Lords) but if asked to give a visual image I’d think of a bunch of ballet dancers leaping.

    PERHAPS the “Lord” that we’re thanking for the Santa Claus coming down Santa Claus lane isn’t the omnipotent g-d, but some members of the House of Lords.

  10. I’ve always puzzled over this from “Winter Wonderland”:

    “In the meadow we can build a snowman,
    then pretend that he is Parson Brown.
    He’ll say ‘Are You Married?’ We’ll say ‘No man,
    but you can do the job when you’re in town!”

    Wikipedia has a note about traveling protestant ministers performing services in rural towns, but that doesn’t explain why you’d build a snowman and pretend it was one.

    Similarly, I always think that line about telling scary ghost stories on Christmas in the song “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” is weird. Of course it’s probably referring to _A Christmas Carol_, but it’s doing so in an unusually snarky, anthropological way. Might as well sing about homes being broken into by a bearded sleigh-driving prowler.

    I much prefer to make other people go ‘huh’ by playing Jonathan Coulton’s excellent “Chiron Beta Prime” whenever I have the opportunity.

  11. “He sees you when you’re sleeping
    He knows when you’re awake
    He knows if you’ve been bad or good
    So be good for goodness sake!”

    Santa apparently works for Homeland Security.

  12. My car broke down and no one would fix it…

    So I DIDN’T get to go to my Mom’s and, joined by my sister, remind her of the first time we saw “Santa Claus”.

    It was at “Santa Claus Village” and dude was drunk, foul mouthed and belligerent.

    We began laughing and asked, “What’s wrong with Santa Claus?” Mother, WAY more upset than us kids, was crying and ushering us out while replying, over and over again; “That’s not Santa Claus honey, that’s not him…”

    We all get a big laugh about it, now, even Moms.


  13. I’ve heard “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” every year since childhood, and took it at face value- a mildly salacious encounter between Mom and a supernatural man.

    Now, everyone I know is telling me it’s universally understood that it was Daddy, dressed as Santa, the whole time.

    What they can’t explain is why he’s dressed as Santa when, as the lyrics make clear, the kid is supposed to be asleep upstairs.

  14. @KingMervOO

    Santa Baby isn’t disturbing — it’s just totally honest. It was written a few years after Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend, proving that Madonna was not the first (nor the last) Material Girl.

  15. Oh and what about the whole “Do you see what I see” thing?

    So a boy talks to a sheep who was looking at the sky, and he passes the message along to a king who tells the people of the whole world to listen to him… you know, based on what a talking lamb said.

  16. @Daniel: Frosty in general is disturbing:

    He led them down the streets of town right to the traffic cop.
    And he only paused a moment when he heard him holler “Stop!”

    Blatant disrespect for the police notwithstanding, is it really OK to follow a giant zombie snowman?

  17. Well, I dont know the words to very many xmas songs…I hate them all frankly. So, Im taking on the alternate, what I didnt get that I wanted.
    Some of you might think me rashly materialistic but I have been asking for the same thing for about 20 years and you would think after all this time my family could find a way to arrange it. That is of course, if they Really loved me they could. But do I get it? Hell no. I mean how hard is it to pick me up a Lamborghini Diablo?

  18. @phlebas: Yes, it’s bad. I prefer Dr. Dirty’s (John Valby’s) The 12 Dirty Days of Christmas. It’s on YouTube. It’s been called offensive, crude, rude, obscene, twisted, totally and completely vulgar, so far over the top that it’s on the bottom, and twisted. Here’s the link:

    @Steve DeGroof: And people wonder why I keep a gun around.

    @Daniel: That’s why I came from a broken home.

    @Elyse: Must’ve been some really good acid.

    @Masala Skeptic: No. But it would’ve been better if people had done that instead of following GW.

  19. @Knurl: Yeah, that song is wrong on so many different levels. Either mommy is having an affair with Santa Claus, or you’ve just candidly observed your parents enjoying some bizarre Christmas roleplaying.

    Here’s another huh-worthy Christmas song I just remembered: The 1960s Doctor Who-inspired “I’m Gonna Spend My Christmas With A Dalek”.

  20. @Masala Skeptic: Of course. I’d be curious as to how a giant zombie snowman can even move, much less run here and there around the square. I would carry a blowtorch though, for protection.

  21. All Xmas lyrics are either ridiculous or esoteric, whether they’re communicating religious messages or stupid shit like Frosty or Santa.

    Conversely, the only traditional Xmas song I really like is “O Holy Night.” I don’t so much like the lyrics as the music; that’s one of the most evil, creepy, and brutaful (i.e. both beautiful and brutal) songs ever written.

    Oh, and further off topic, the best Xmas song ever is “Christmas With the Devil” by Spinal Tap. That entire song is sheer genius.

  22. @Oakes: Yeah, I’ve noticed that.

    On a similar note, there are portions of Saint-Saëns “Dance Macabre” that I’ve always mistook for Christmas music whenever I’ve heard them out of context.

  23. One carol that I don’t get is in “I Saw Three Ships.” It talks about “the Savior Christ and His lady sailing into Bethlehem” … Isn’t Bethlehem landlocked in the middle of a farking desert west of the Dead Sea??? WTF??

    Re: ‘Do you see what I see?” No. Go look up “solipism.” And lay off the wine, you drunken sheepherders. No wonder all your kids look furry. Da-a-a-a-a-d!

    Re: Santa Claus: His off holiday alter-ego is John Poindexter.

  24. Some of the lyrics to “Do You Hear What I Hear” are a long-standing family joke: “A child, a child shivers in the cold, let us bring him silver and gold.” Hey, maybe you should bring the kid a damn blanket. Or maybe Snuggie, so he can answer the phone.

  25. Little Drummer Boy is the bane of my existence. Seriously. No other song – Christmas or otherwise – makes me cringe more. I’ve never cared for the song, but by abiding hatred of it is a recent phenomenon, starting just this year, the day before Thanksgiving when I spent 12 hours in a hotel banquet hall two feet below a speaker blaring Lawrence Welk-ish Chritsmas songs. I swear to FSM that every third god damn song was another version of LDB. When evening rolled around, the switch was made to smooth jazz versions of LDB.

    The worst was one version where the singer didn’t apparently pick up on the onomatopoeia, and kind of slurred her way through “ba-rummarumm-uhs” that didn’t quite capture the fake drum beats that, annoying as they are, were originally intended.

    I seriously have to leave the room when this song comes on now. Only one other song has this effect on me.

  26. @greenishblu: I’ve hated that song since I was a child. I don’t know why. I get that rage feeling where all the blood rushes to your face and you have to get the fuck out of there. I’d be interested to know why I have such an irrational response to a simple song, but I’m strangely comforted that someone hates it as much as I do.

  27. @phlebas: COTW
    Never heard such a disassembly of the 12 Days of Christmas before! :-D

    @endicott: “We like sheep” gives me a vision of Eric Palen saying that salaciously in a skit…”Know what I mean, Huh, Huh?”

  28. @QuestionAuthority: That was so nice of Michael Palin to name his son after Eric Idle. ;)

    Also, I’m going to second @phlebas for COTW.

    @Kimbo Jones: I wish I could explain it. I think there’s something vaguely militaristic about the tune, what with all the drumming. When mixed with the “newborn King has come” stuff makes for some frightening imagery for an atheist. Might that have something to do with it? Perhaps. I’m not sure.

    Like I say, I heard fifty thousand different versions of it that day, but surely there were other songs I heard just as often, but it was only LDB that I focused in on, only this one song that made me want to get the hell outta there. Totally irrational.

    Maybe redheads inherently hate this song? ;)

  29. @ Detroitus: “Wassailing” is actually an old English custom. Time was that when people went caroling, the neighbors would give them a hot spiced punch out of a communal bowl – something about good luck or togetherness, I think? I think I also remember something about singing to apple trees. It’s all pretty pagan, which is probably why it’s become obsolete. Wikipedia has a pretty good article about it here.

    Two Christmas songs that never play in our house: The Little Drummer Boy and Feliz Navidad. The latter, in particular, is the most obnoxious carol I’ve ever heard, but that isn’t why we don’t listen to it – that would be because it actively infuriates my mom. I’ve never actually been able to find out why.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Back to top button