Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Silly Christmas Lyric Meme: I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus

A few years ago I started a silly Christmas lyric meme where I take a song that we hear countless times during the Christmas season and point out a part of it that makes we wonder, confuses me or is worth exploring if merely for the humour of it . . . (feel free to play along and share your own silly thoughts about Christmas lyrics on your own blog)

The Rules: Pick a Christmas lyric that you've always had a question about and discuss it. Then either tag one or more people or either tag nobody and invite your readers to tag themselves and enjoy discussing the subject on their own.

Feel free to use the "Cousin Eddie" image by copying the following code and replacing the '(' and ')' with '<' and '>' :

(a href="")(img src="" alt="Mark Leslie's Silly Christmas Lyric meme" /)

The Song: I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus. Originally written by Tommie Connor - (1904-1993) and first recorded by Jimmy Boyd (1939-2009) in 1952.

Lyrics In Question: "Oh what a laugh it would have been if Daddy had only seen Mommy kissing Santa Claus last night."

The Comment: I get it. It's a cute song. But not only has it always disturbed me, but it's evidence of something that can easily happy when an adult writer tries to write from a child's point of view -- they can't divorce themselves far enough away from their adult POV and experience, and don't properly capture the true innocence of a child's POV.

The problem, to me, is that the song relies on an adult point of view in order for it to be cute and funny. From a child's point of view I can't find it anything but utterly disturbing.

First of all, when I was a child and heard this song, I found it rather confusing. Why, if a child snuck downstairs in the middle of the night and saw his or her Mommy kissing a stranger in their living room would they find it cute? Is Mommy cheating on Daddy? Why is a child singing about it? What the hell is so funny about that?

Worse, of course, is that it's not entirely a stranger. No, it's not just the mailman, or the pool boy, or some other young hunk who Mommy might be having a tryst with, but it's one of the most trusted adult figures in a child's universe: Santa Claus. The ultimate trustworthy, lovable, generous and kind adult in a child's mind. I mean, one hardly ever threatens a child with the fact that Mommy or Daddy know they're misbehaving -- but threaten with a quick call to Santa and the child's particular flavour of unwanted behaviour often unsours rather quickly.

So how disturbing, then, to discover one of your parents cheating on the other by kissing Santa Claus. It's like a double-betrayal. How in the hell can a child find that cute? And how would a child think it would have been a laugh if Daddy saw this? (Unless, of course, Mommy and Daddy are happily separated and honestly enjoy seeing the other person happy; or perhaps they have some sort of completely open marriage, and it's okay for this kind of thing to happen. But still, not in front of the kids)

Again, the cuteness of the song comes from realizing that the Santa in the song isn't the real Santa, but, in fact, Daddy dressed up as Santa. So, for a child to actually GET this song they have to have a completely different understanding of Christmas than most young children usually have. It's always a bittersweet thing when children get to that age where the magic of Christmas changes (Hopefully, it changes from the magic of believing in the goodness of a jolly old elf in a red suit to believing in the inherent goodness within all of us and doing one's best to spread peace, love and joy) But I mean, WOW -- what a terrible way for the magical childhood fantasy to come crashing down.

I suppose one of the ways to monitor which particular magic of Christmas a child believes in is to gage their reaction to this song. If they GET IT, then they've lost something they'll never get back. If they don't get it, you can smile and hope that it'll be a long time before they get it and that hopefully the concept of the song doesn't disturb them too much in the meantime.

What about you? Does this song disturb you too? Or perhaps it's another song.

[To read my previous Silly Christmas Lyric commentary, check out 2008 (Silent Night), 2007 (Silver Bells) and the original 2006 (The Christmas Song)]

1 comment:

Unknown said...

that is perfect. i teach art and today the song came on the radio in class. the kids were so confused. i kept my mouth shut! for the first time i realize the weight of this song.