Bit Insulting, Innit?

Dearest Rachel –

Today’s song is a bit of a paradox. I’ve never actually listened to it until today (I mean, we’ve heard it a number of times, but actually listened to it? Hardly). In any event, let’s get it out of the way before I start in on it:

As I understand it, it is the most listened-to Christmas song this season (and probably for the last few seasonal cycles previously), and yet it’s also supposedly one of the most despised songs of the present repertoire – possibly for that very reason. It’s ubiquitous in the malls and shopping centers – which is why I’m pretty sure I’ve heard it before – yet its message seems decidedly anti-materialistic (pretty much the diametric opposite of ‘Santa, Baby’); do stores really want to promote such an attitude toward the celebration of the season, or do they think of this as the ultimate ‘soft-sell’ approach?

And I don’t know if it was just the two of us coming up with it on our own, or if we heard someone in our pop culture orbit express the sentiment, and we – after blinking a couple times at the revelation – agreed with it wholeheartedly, but there’s a certain logic to the lyrics that is, when you think about it, decidedly insulting to the object of Ms. Carey’s song. The syllogism goes like this:

  • Start with the first line: “I don’t want a lot for Christmas”
  • Factor in the last line of the chorus (the title line): “All I want for Christmas is you”
  • Therefore, ‘you’ are not a lot.

I guess it could be worse: she could have said she wanted nothing for Christmas, and uttered the title, implying her beloved was nothing. But that aside, it’s not particularly complimentary to him, now, is it?

But it’s way too uptempo to really give yourself time to think about that while you’re listening to it… at least, the first time or two you give it a listen, as I’ve just done. Maybe after hearing it day in and day out while you’re working in retail – or even struggling to find that perfect something for whoever on your shopping list – it gets old, and you get annoyed with her relentlessly energetic cheeriness. I don’t know; I’ve not had to deal with it for more than a listen or two, and I’m not about to make any great effort to listen to it over and over until I figure out what so many people I know dislike it.

I will say that, like with so many other secular Christmas songs, it has that same unfulfillable message in it: I can’t have you for Christmas, and I can’t bring someone else to fill your place just like that.

But at least the music is bright and bouncy (as is Ms. Carey in this and several updates to this video) that you tend to forget about that for the moment. Which I guess is a good thing…?

Anyway, I should move on to another letter, as I’m not going to be able to squeeze much more out of this topic, especially on a day like today.

Take care of yourself, honey… and keep an eye out for us. Love you.

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I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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