Anyone that lives near this area of New Jersey is well aware that one local station a year continues the custom of 24-hour-a-day Christmas songs. This season the culprit is 106.7 FM, which began this tradition before Thanksgiving this year, meaning that it’s (looking at my watch) December 8th, and my holiday spirit has already been obliterated. Awesome. There are many reasons for this, not the least of which is the Rod Stewart/Dolly Parton rendition of “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” which my wife so cleverly dubbed as the “date-rape Christmas song:” “Hey, what’s in this drink?” It’s SoCo mixed with GHB, Dolly - Rod is using the cold weather as an excuse to, at the very least, see your boobies. Merry Christmas!
But that’s not even the worst of it. I suppose that, when you’re trying to fill hours upon hours of airtime with Christmas songs, you’re bound to come across some bad ones. And one song in particular takes the cake. So, at the risk of sounding like an insensitive jerk that doesn’t understand the “true meaning of Christmas,” I’m throwing this out there: I hate the “Christmas shoes” song.
There. I said it.
As far as I’m concerned, this song is the equivalent of one of those Volkswagen commercials that scare you into safety by showing a ridiculously sudden and realistic car accident. (Hey, thanks Volkswagen! I nearly just soiled myself again, innocently under the impression that I was watching a normal commercial. Great.) The “Christmas shoes” song is so pretentious in its shameless attempt to make us embarrassed by our own Christmas cheer, as it serves to remind us that death is always around the corner. (“As you’re exchanging your presents and drinking eggnog this season, don’t forget that millions of American mothers die shoeless every year.”) Hey, thanks Christmas shoes song! For ruining the holidays again. Seriously, thanks.
Maybe the worst part of this whole deal is that my wife loves this song. Loves it. Honestly, I had never even heard this stupid song until a couple of years ago, while I was driving with said wife. I could not believe the absurdity of what I was hearing, though meanwhile, my wife is singing along to it, while trying in vain to hold back the tears. In fact, if my wife AND mother-in-law are in the car at the same time when this song comes on, forget it. They let out audible gasps throughout the entire song, as if they’re hearing it for the first time, and will frequently turn to each other with sad, puppy dog eyes, saying things like, “He bought him the shoes,” and, “His poor mother.”
Unbelievable. And quite honestly, I’ve had enough. Let’s break the Christmas shoes song down, and never put it back together…
It was almost Christmas time, there I stood in another line
Tryin' to buy that last gift or two, not really in the Christmas mood
Standing right in front of me was a little boy waiting anxiously
Pacing 'round like little boys do
And in his hands he held a pair of shoes
His clothes were worn and old, he was dirty from head to toe
And when it came his time to pay
I couldn't believe what I heard him say
Okay, first of all, why is the boy all dirty? He’s not homeless, is he? No, he’s not. He lives with his parents. And even if his mom is sick, I’m sure his father hasn’t been neglecting to occasionally give him a bath or something. Just a ludicrous attempt to paint this boy as some kind of downtrodden, sympathetic “Tiny Tim” type of character. I’m surprised this song doesn’t have the kid on crutches, coughing up a cloud a smoke like Pigpen or something. Ridiculous.
Sir, I want to buy these shoes for my Mama, please
It's Christmas Eve and these shoes are just her size
Could you hurry, sir, Daddy says there's not much time
You see she's been sick for quite a while
And I know these shoes would make her smile
And I want her to look beautiful if Mama meets Jesus tonight
Whoa, whoa, whoa. “Daddy says there’s not much time?” Okay, first we got a dad who doesn’t wash his kid. Now we got a dad who scares the crap out of his kid by telling him to rush to the store – by himself, mind you – to buy shoes for his dying mother, telling him there’s not much time. I mean, are shoes really necessary at this particular moment? Maybe little Billy (we’ll call him Billy) should be rushing to the store to get his mom some, oh, I don’t know…medicine. Or – and I know this sounds crazy – maybe Billy’s dying mother would prefer to spend her last moments with Billy, and not waiting for Billy to get back from Payless with a pair of stupid shoes. Plus, we’ve already established that this is a family that doesn’t bathe their children during dire times, so why, all of a sudden, are they so obsessed with appearance?
By the way, the last line is such a shameless tug at the heartstrings. The mere mention of Jesus makes any criticizer of this song (me) come across like a total jerk. But I’ll tell you this much – if Jesus cares what you’re wearing when it’s your time to go, then I never learned anything in Catholic school.
He counted pennies for what seemed like years
Then the cashier said, "Son, there's not enough here"
He searched his pockets frantically
Then he turned and he looked at me
He said Mama made Christmas good at our house
Though most years she just did without
Tell me Sir, what am I going to do,
Somehow I've got to buy her these Christmas shoes
Hey, cashier – I hope you enjoy that coal in your stocking this year…dick. Of course, the cashier is only playing the “Scrooge” roll in this stupid song. And let’s give another shout-out to the dad here, who not only sent his kid to the store at the worst possible time to purchase the most inexplicable item – he sent him with pennies. Hey dad, not sure how much shoes cost the last time you left the house, but they’re more than 28 cents. I know, inflation’s a bitch, huh? I mean, geez – this kid couldn’t have purchased Stephon Marbury’s shoes with that kind of cash flow. And, then there’s this: ”Mama made Christmas good at our house, though most years she just did without.” Ummm, huh? Did without what? Did without Christmas? But I thought she made Christmas “good,” as Billy so eloquently put it? Did without shoes? I’m confused…
So I laid the money down, I just had to help him out
I'll never forget the look on his face when he said
Mama's gonna look so great
Really though, was there another way for this scenario to end? Saddam Hussein would have bought the freakin’ shoes for the poor kid. By the way, I always imagine the line that never made into the song was the a-hole cashier singing:
Thank you sir, for your purchase, that was very nice
But if this boy has an ailing uncle, the second pair is half-price!
I knew I'd caught a glimpse of heaven's love
As he thanked me and ran out
I knew that God had sent that little boy
To remind me just what Christmas is all about
Sure, sure. It’s AAAALLL about you, buddy. I’m sure God wanted to show you the “true meaning” of Christmas so badly, that he killed off a dirty boy’s mother just to do it. Seriously, I’m sure Billy will always look back on his motherless childhood fondly, knowing that, for at least one holiday season, he was able to share the true meaning of Christmas with you, a random guy who just wasn’t “in the Christmas mood.” I hope you’re proud of yourself – there’s blood on your hands.
In my own extended version of this song, the mother lives - no thanks to the shoes, which gave her bunions - she divorces the good-for-nothing dad, gives Billy a bath, and becomes the first female ambassador of Turkey. Then, one day on Christmas Eve, she gets in a really bad car accident, blindsided by a drunken Dolly Parton trying to escape the Rod Stewart mansion. Billy rushes to the scene holding a pair of Keds, only to be brushed aside by the paramedics.
But fortunately, the mother survives. She was driving a Volkswagen.
You're a dirty, dirty boy...