While way too much attention has been paid to one holiday song this year, I believe we are ignoring several much more significant problems with Christmas carols.
These songs are fun to sing and listen to, but several significant issues need to be addressed. In order to shift the discussion over to the more important matters, here are the Top 5 Problems with Christmas carols.
First, we have one honorable mention:
When the people you are with start singing them too high – Everyone may be excited about singing Christmas songs, but at some point someone starts a carol way too high so that when it gets to the high parts you realize you are either going to be way off-key or you have to suddenly go down an octave, which might make you go off-key again anyway. I have a hard enough time singing on key to start with. Let’s find a way to start the songs at a comfortable spot.
5. Good King Wenceslas – Who was King Wenceslas? What was the Feast of Stephen? Does anyone know any of the words after the line about the Feast of Stephen? Who picks this song to sing every year?
4. How many verses are we singing? – Do we just sing the first verse of Christmas Carols? Why do we sometimes skip the second verse and go straight to the third? We don’t have to sing four verses do we? Are we using updated lyrics or the lyrics we learned as children?
3. The famous story, “A Christmas Carol” – While it is certainly a Christmas story, it’s not really a Christmas carol at all. Why not just name it “A Christmas Poem”? Wouldn’t that be just as accurate? It’s not even one of those songs that was turned into a movie or a story, like “Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer,” “Frosty the Snowman,” or “The Gambler.”
2. Santa Claus is Coming to Town – I like the tune and love the Bruce Springsteen version, but this song makes Santa Claus sound like a stalker and judgmental jerk. “He sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake.” Why is Santa watching us sleep? Does he do that all year? No thanks then Santa. I don’t need presents that badly. “You better watch out, you better not cry.” Why can’t children cry Santa? What’s so bad about that? “The kids in girl and boy land, will have a jubilee, they’re gonna build a toyland all around the Christmas tree.” What does that mean exactly? Girl and boy land? Where is that? Who’s going to build the toyland around the Christmas tree? And what is a toyland?
1. Too many of them have nothing to do with Christmas at all – Why are songs like “Jingle Bells,” “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” or “Winter Wonderland,” even considered Christmas carols? They have nothing to do with Christmas! My family member Keith Tomlinson has been making this case for years, and I am happy to join his crusade. These are all winter songs and winter doesn’t even start until four days before Christmas. Hey, here’s a song that mentions snow, let’s sing it at Christmas and then immediately stop right after! It makes no sense. It’s like if we stopped playing or singing Beach Boys songs after the Fourth of July. Hey, that song is about summer and the beach, it must be a song about Independence Day! Not to mention that we often don’t even get snow until after Christmas, and many people don’t get snow at Christmas at all. Those are winter songs, not Christmas carols.
So to summarize, all weird carols, non-Christmas Christmas carols and tunes that are hard or confusing to sing are all humbug!