The Dark Side Of Christmas

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Everyone from Brooklyn to Borneo knows the story of Christmas, right?  Whether it’s the Nativity or Santa Claus and his magic sleigh, we all think we’ve got the whole tale – but we don’t.  There’s another side to Christmas — a dark side – a side that nobody wants to talk about.  Here are a couple of items from a tell-all book that has been suppressed for many, many years: Christmas Confidential.  This is the stuff Big Christmas doesn’t want you to know.

Christmas Carols

We have love songs, working songs, birthday songs, etc., etc. but only Christmas songs are called carols.  Why?  The reason is a tawdry little secret: Santa Claus is divorced.  That sweet little lady, Mrs. Claus, is actually a trophy wife.  It seems that at some point in his long career, Santa had an affair (after all, he knows where all the naughty girls live.)  This was alluded to in Tommie Connor’s song “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” written in 1952.  Anyway, soon after Santa’s digression was discovered, the Clauses had a very messy divorce.  However, given the sensitive nature of the proceedings, a Universal Gag Order was issued by The International Court of The Hague, so very few details are known.  Naturally, though, a lot of people were pissed off at this sordid situation, and they started calling Christmas songs “carols” so that, Caroline Claus, Santa’s first wife, would not be forgotten.

The Other Reindeer

We all know that Santa has 9 reindeer – Dasher, Dancer, Prancer and Vixen, Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blixen (You sang that last part, didn’t you?) and, of course, Rudolph.  However, most people don’t know that originally there were 10 reindeer.  Donner was actually a twin.  Unfortunately, his brother was an evil twin.  He was a nasty piece of work who spent most of his time lying around the North Pole, eating candy canes and drinking Finlandia vodka.  Rumour has it that he was the one who started “Elf Tossing Tuesdays” at the Caribou Bar and several witnesses have come forward who accuse him of calling Rudolph names and not allowing him access to any reindeer games.  This situation went on for years until one “foggy Christmas Eve,” drunk off his antlers, Donner’s brother refused to pull the sleigh.  “Get the little freak to do it” he said, “or pull it yourself, Fat Boy.”  He went on to make a few choice remarks about Mrs. Claus and her relationship with several of the elves.  Then he pushed Santa out of the way and stomped off into the forest.  Finally, out of patience, Santa turned to Mrs. Claus and said, “Ho, Ho, Ho!  Never mind, my darling!  You set the table, and we’ll have a fine late supper when I get home tonight.”  Then he reached for his rifle that was hanging on the wall.  Donner’s brother’s name was Dinner.

The Little Drummer Boy

Forget everything you know about the little drummer boy — it’s all a pack of lies.  Yes, there actually was a Little Drummer Boy, but not the one we know from the song.  The truth is, he was a small-time sneak thief who spent his nights picking the pockets of decent folk in the souks of Baghdad.  He wasn’t very good at it, though, and after getting caught — a lot — he was told to either hit the road or become the newest member of the one glove club.  Drummer Boy skulked out of town on the next full moon and was well on his way to anonymity when he ran across the Three Wise Men who (as everybody knows) were on their way to Bethlehem.  LDB travelled with them for the next several days, shamelessly fawning and groveling in the hope of gaining their trust and getting his mitts on some of their treasure.  Unfortunately, wise as they probably were, when it came to street smarts, the Three Wise Men weren’t the sharpest scimitars in the desert, and they fell for this blatant con.  Drummer Boy made off with a jar of frankincense and headed for Damascus.  The Three Wise Men journeyed on — just a little wiser and one jar of frankincense lighter.  However, rather than admit they’d gotten scammed by a petty little crook, the Wise Men decided to rework the story in a more favourable light, and so emerged the tale we know today — “pa-rum-pum-pum-pum” and all.

And what happened to the Little Drummer Boy?  He was arrested for selling stolen frankincense, convicted and sentenced to 10 years hard labour in a Damascus prison — which is exactly what the treacherous little bugger deserved.

And, BTW, many people believe “The Little Drummer Boy” was written, in 1941, by Katherine Kennicott Davis, a mild-mannered New England music teacher.  This is not true.  The song was written by Nazis — flesh-eating, green-saliva Nazis — who were trying to undermine our morale during World War II.

The Perils Of Christmas


The War on Christmas is over, and only nitwits and sophomores are still proclaiming that “Happy Holidays” is the one true path to enlightenment.  That’s the good news.  The bad news is, unfortunately, even though it serves no purpose, the silliness surrounding the biggest celebration on the Christian calendar continues.  I guess there’s just something about “Peace on Earth” that brings out every disaffected dolt with a grudge and an Internet connection.  However, take heart!  Here are a few helpful hints to avoid the perils of a contemporary Christmas.

The Tree – There’s always somebody who’s going to point out that Christmas trees are actually pagan symbols and then literally bathe in the suggested religious hypocrisy.  The best retort is, “Yes, that’s true.  In fact, it was sexually repressed, anal retentive Puritans who banned Christmas trees for that very reason.”  (Pause – 1, 2, 3)  “By the way, which kind are you?”

The Songs – They’ve already banned “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” so can “don we now our gay apparel” and “folks dressed up like Eskimos” be far behind?  Even “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer” is under suspicion … bullying!  After all, when “all of the other reindeer used to laugh and call him names” Rudolph didn’t contact an authority figure (i.e. Santa Claus) to complain.  The best thing to do is stick to “Feliz Navidad” by Jose Feliciano.  It’ll drive you stark raving mad, but it ticks all the boxes.

Mistletoe – Not a good idea.

Office Parties – A grand tradition of good cheer and camaraderie that has fallen on hard times.  These days, nobody’s willing to chance waking up the morning after with a screaming hangover and a retroactive lawsuit.  So be it.  However, there’s no need to cancel this year’s festivities: simply segregate the party by gender — like they do in Muslim countries.

The Presents – Commercialism has always been the battle cry of those pompous asses who don’t understand Christmas in the first place.  However, this one is easy.  All you have to do is buy presents that nobody’s ever heard of.  Things like Fair Trade/handmade Ecuadorian shoelaces, or a Nigerian nose flute or a Community College course in roof thatching.  And what child wouldn’t be overjoyed to discover a bundle of organic asparagus in her stocking?

Santa Claus – This is a bad one.  Not only is Santa clearly running a sweatshop where a beleaguered minority (the elves) are forced to work long hours in less than ideal conditions, but there’s also the question of Mrs. Claus – a women so oppressed she doesn’t even have a first name!  Plus, there’s the bullying issue (covered in #2) the obesity issue, the trust issue, the judgemental issue and nobody really knows how big a carbon footprint flying reindeer leave.  This is a minefield, and the only way out of it is to tell your kids Santa Claus DOESN’T bring presents – Amazon does.  Problem solved.

But the very best way to avoid the perils of a contemporary Christmas is simply to keep Christmas in your own way and don’t sweat the mean- spirited morons who want to ruin it.

Christmas: A Victorian Invention (2017)


Obviously, Christmas, as we know it, started quite literally in the year dot.  Like it or don’t, the birth of Christ is the single most important event in the history of Western civilization.  Here in the 21st century, we continue to celebrate the day as a religious, secular or “hell of a good time” holiday.  It’s a tradition.  However, it’s a relatively new one.  Our celebration at Christmas started accidently, in the1840s, when these two events coincided.  First of all, an English author published a novel; secondly, Queen Victoria married a German.  Without these two isolated events happening at just the right time, we’d all be sitting around December 25thburping up turkey and looking for batteries — for no apparent reason.

When Queen Victoria ascended the throne in 1837, there was a feeling that this was the beginning of a new age in Britain.  The Napoleonic Wars were long over and mostly forgotten, and the world was enjoying a time of relative peace.  The industrial revolution was producing not only a new prosperity but also a new middle class who had both money and leisure.  They could enjoy things like travel, family life, and even hobbies such as reading for pleasure.  Also in 1837, a relatively unknown author named Charles Dickens published a newspaper serial called The Pickwick Papers.   Within about 5 chapters, he had suddenly become the J.K. Rowling of the 19th century.  The new English middle class fell in love with Pickwick.  Soon, people on both sides of the Atlantic were lining up to get the latest instalment of his adventures.  One of the most enchanting episodes in The Pickwick Papers was a fanciful description of a Christmas festival.  Christmas was undergoing a bit of a revival at the time, and Dickens’ highly fictional description gave people something to emulate.  It was very much the same as when people today talk and act like their electronic friends on TV.

For the next couple of years, Charles Dickens kept himself busy.  He published some very successful novels — Oliver Twist and Nicholas Nickleby, among others.  Then, like most successful authors, he decided to shoot his mouth off.  He ran afoul of his American audience by advocating some rather radical ideas like universal copyright (so those damn Yankees couldn’t steal his stuff) and the abolition of that quaint American custom of slavery.  Suddenly, he was losing some pretty valuable customers on the other side of the Atlantic.   He wanted to get them back, so he began writing a series of books he described as, “… a whimsical sort of masque intended to awaken loving and forbearing thoughts.”  He succeeded.  In 1843, he published A Christmas Carol and the world changed dramatically.  Once again, both sides of the Atlantic went crazy for Charles Dickens.  Scrooge, Cratchit and Tiny Tim were more popular then, than Elsa, Anna and whatever the snowman’s name is, are today.

Everybody wanted to celebrate a traditional Christmas the way Dickens described it because — before Dickens wrote it — nobody actually kept Christmas that way.  He made it all up.  He took several traditions that were already there and put them together in a stylized setting.  It was fiction.  Plus, Dickens didn’t just write A Christmas Carol; there were five books in the series.  Every time our Victorian ancestors turned around, there was Charles with another feel-good Christmas story.  It must have been like getting beaten over the head with a rainbow.  By the time Dickens was done, Christmas was everywhere.  You couldn’t get away from it.

Meanwhile, in 1840, Queen Victoria married Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, her German first cousin.  Albert showed up at Buckingham Palace with all his German sensibilities intact, including some very noticeable Christmas traditions — like decorations and the tannenbaum or Christmas tree.  Christmas trees had been around for some time, but it wasn’t a common practice in England to cut down a tree and haul it into your house.  Any trees that did get cut down around Christmas were normally thrown into the fire as Yule Logs.  However, the popularity of the young, good-looking monarchs was such that, when Victoria and Albert appeared with their children in front of a Christmas tree, in The London Illustrated News, Christmas celebrations became uber-fashionable.

The social ladder now had a new rung, and people all over England and America began decorating their houses at Christmas, just like they assumed their aristocratic betters were doing.  Thus, the height, breadth and weight of the Christmas table one set became society news and reason for gossip.  Everybody wanted to know what Jenny Churchill was wearing or what the Astors served for dinner — so they could do it, too.  It was Entertainment Tonight – only with bonnets and bustles.  Christmas was not only everywhere; it was trendy.  The result was that Christmas became the #1 holiday of the year — and has been, ever since.

Today, our Christmas celebration is surprisingly similar to that of our Victorian ancestors.  Of course, there have been refinements along the way.  In 1843, Horsley and Cole, a couple of bored Englishmen, invented Christmas cards.  Saint Nicholas was turned into Santa Claus by Thomas Nast and Coca Cola.  At some point, religious hymns became “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas” and “Jingle Bell Rock.”  Add we’ve added Rudolph the extra reindeer and that stupid Little Drummer Boy (who was put on this earth just to annoy me.)  However, it’s basically the same Christmas they would have had a century and a half ago.  So, when you push your chair back from the table and look at the beauty of your own personal Christmas, take a nanosecond and thank Charles, Victoria and Albert, who invented it for you.

(Originally published in 2011.)

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