Now that Christmas is over and I won’t seem like quite so big a Scrooge by saying this, I have a confession to make: I don’t really like Christmas carols. I’m sorry. I know everyone loves them, but they’re so overplayed and start so early that by about mid-December each year I go from finding them cheery to thinking they’re voices in my head telling me to run over someone’s grandma with an elk.
I mean, maybe I wouldn’t mind Christmas carols so much if we had some new ones, but it’s always the same nonsense just sung by different people. If it isn’t Bing Crosby or Johnny Mathis, it’s David Hasselhoff or Billy Idol (yes, they both have Christmas albums), and their song repertoire isn’t particularly varied. All but Hasselhoff sing “Silver Bells,” all but Mathis sing “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen,” and all four sing both “Silent Night” and “White Christmas.”
Then there are all those obscure carols that haven’t aged particularly well. Take, for example, “Here We Come A-Wassailing.” I’ve always been curious about that one, so I looked up the word “wassail.” Here’s the top definition, according to a Google search: “To drink plentiful amounts of alcohol and enjoy oneself with others in a noisy, lively way.”
That means that 364 nights a year if you’re out wassailing with your friends it’s probably a crime and you’re basically a bunch of loud drunks. But if you do it on Christmas Eve and it involves eggnog, you’re just a friendly neighbor out spreading Christmas cheer.
It’s a pretty dumb song, too, when you think about it. It was written by an English guy, and the lyrics are: “Here we come a-wassailing” — in England, in the dead of winter — “among the leaves so green.” I haven’t spent much time in England, but given its latitude, I would assume leaves fall off trees there in the winter just like they do here.
I mentioned that lyric to my wife and she countered with, “They could be holly trees,” which is true, but I would think that wandering among holly leaves might get a little scratchy. I suppose if one drinks plentiful amounts of alcohol, though, anything can be painless, can’t it?
Then there’s my favorite carol, “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” Imagine that one as a conversation between a bunch of carolers out a-wassailing and the poor sap who opens his front door when they knock.
Carolers: “We wish you a merry Christmas. We wish you a merry Christmas. We wish you a merry Christmas and a happy new year.”
Guy who opened his door: “Thanks. That’s so sweet of you.”
“Now bring us a figgy pudding.”
“Bring us a figgy pudding.”
“What the heck is a figgy pudding?”
“Bring us a figgy pudding and a cup of good cheer.”
“A cup of what? Look, pal, maybe you should ease up on the cheer or whatever it is you’ve been drinking.”
“We won’t go until we get some.”
“I guess you’re going to be here awhile then because I don’t have a figgy pudding to give you and I’m sure as hell not making one for you.”
“We won’t go until we get some.”
“How did you go in one verse from wishing me a merry Christmas to threatening to stay at my house until you get pudding? That seems like a bit of a leap to me. I’m starting to think the ‘merry Christmas’ thing was just a ruse to get your foot in the door. You were after pudding all along, weren’t you?”
“We won’t go until we get some, so bring it right here.”
“That’s it; I’m calling the cops.”
The best part about that song is that it’s also English, which means that figgy pudding probably isn’t pudding at all. It’s probably some kind of sausage made from blood and kidneys or something like that.
Maybe I’m just being naive, though. Maybe in England, where the leaves stay on the trees year-round, getting liquored up and occupying your neighbor’s house until he gives you pudding is what everybody does. Like I said, I haven’t spent a lot of time there.
Oh, and I was wrong earlier when I said there were no new Christmas carols. Turns out there’s a brand-new one that Fox News wants everyone to start singing. It’s called “I’m Dreaming of a White Santa.”
Todd Hartley’s Christmas Album, “A Very Hartley Holiday,” is now available in stores. To read more or leave a comment, please visit www.zerobudget.net.