Sunday, December 19, 2010

Eviscerating The Christmas Shoes or Making A Sad Song Happy

                I was driving with my wife Charger Gal the other day, listening and singing along to the Christmas tunes on the radio (Yes, we’re saps like that).   Over the speakers of my car began a song that was unfamiliar to my ears, but made my wife explode in the excited proclamation “You gotta hear this song.  It makes me cry every time.”  I myself never get excited by the prospect of being driven to tears, but I respect my beloved’s opinion and listened intently. 
                The song in question was The Christmas Shoes, the tale of a narrator who’s standing in line, not feeling terribly in the holiday spirit until a scruffily attired young boy armed only with a gaggle of pennies explains to the cashier and the narrator that he only wishes to buy a pair of shoes for his gravely ill mother before she meets Jesus tonight.  The narrator is so moved by the child’s plight that he pays for the shoes, thus renewing to himself the true meaning of Christmas.  The song ends, and I would be dishonest if I didn’t admit to having a golf ball sized lump in my throat, but I also possess a comedian like need to take the piss out of any situation so I snarkily stated:  “And then the kid get to the hospital and finds out his mother is dead.”
                To say this comment did not go over well with Charger Gal is equivalent to saying Noah guided his ark through a rough patch of inclement weather.   But the Gods of retribution had it in for me this day, for as we came home and began flipping channels, Charger Gal discovered the TV movie based on the song was just starting (A Hallmark film starring 80’s teen heartthrob Rob Lowe.  Talk about sticking it in and breaking it off on a guy.)  Charger Gal proceeded to watch the 2 hour flick (Yes, they stretched a 4 minute song into a 2 hour film) and ended up so emotionally drained it took two hours and multiple glasses of wine to return her to some semblance of normalcy.
                Now call me kooky, but I have this crazy desire to be HAPPY during the holidays.  And between the song, the movie, and the post traumatic sadness disorder, that’s 4 plus hours of my life with my wife I’m not getting back. That is unacceptable and thus I must respond.  So, for husbands who must endure a morose spouse, for people who wish their Christmas to not be interrupted of its’ Merry, and for the overall greater good, I must now go Ivan Drago and break The Christmas Shoes.
                Let’s start with the real villain of this song…the kids’ father.  The song states that the boys’ clothes are worn and old and he is dirty from head to toe.  How about a shower and a new shirt dad? And if, as the little boy states, the mommy doesn’t have much time and could very well meet Jesus tonight, why is the dad letting the kid go out and buy shoes?  Shouldn’t the kid be by his mom’s bedside?  Way to go dad!   And just how old is this little bastard?  Apparently he’s not old enough to understand that a crap load of pennies can’t buy you a pair of shoes even at Payless.  Of course if the father was worth anything, maybe he’d give his kid the money before letting him go out and setting him up for failure?  Seriously, isn’t this neglectful Neanderthal due a visit from child services?
                Let’s talk about the title object.  Does mommy really need a new pair of shoes?  By all accounts it doesn’t seem like she’ll be doing much walking with the precious time she has left.  Oh, so now you’re on me to leave the family alone?  Fine…how about this scumbag behind the counter?  The little boy tells his tale of woe, the one that moves our narrator to shell out the big bucks for the titular footwear, and the cashier is so unmoved that he/she might as well respond with a W.C. Fields “Go away kid, ya bother me” retort.  Now you’re probably thinking “At least he can’t say anything to the narrator. Not our bastion of giving and understanding to the true meaning of Christmas.”  THINK AGAIN!  Are we sure his gesture of kindness isn’t really the ultimate sucker act from one big ruse?  I read Oliver Twist, I know how this works.  (Ok, maybe that’s a bit of a stretch. But it’s December, one can’t help but have Dickens on the mind.  Ooof, that didn’t come out right.)
                Do you smell that?  It’s the stench of retribution.  I look over at Charger Gal; her mood is much lighter, as if a defense mechanism against ever feeling moved by this piece of music again has been implanted Inception style.  Something tells me she’s not the only one.
Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

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  1. No matter what you say and what you said made me laugh out loud, it's still one of my favorite songs. I am just glad you didn't watch the movie as it would have given you so much more ammo to work with :-)

  2. How accuate! I love Christmas songs and all that comes with it, but I believe I belong in that small percentage of poeople who dislike that song! It irritates me and your breakdown of it was hilarious!
    All though I do respect Charger Gal's decision to like it! lol
    Take Care and Merry Christmas to both of you!

  3. That kind of story/song/movie/e-mail chain letter is known as "glurge", the category for obviously-made-up stuff that is intended to manipulate you into feeling that old lump in the throat. And as you correclty point out, once you think about it a little more, the point and/or moral of the story becomes increasingly unclear.

    Since we're on the topic of shoes, here's some wisdom from that great philosopher, Jack Handey:

    "Once I wept for I had no shoes. Then I came across a man who had no feet. So I took his shoes. I mean, it's not like he really needed them."

  4. Thanks for this. I have hated this song for a very long time. Years ago, I read "The Annotated Christmas Shoes" on a blog that sadly no longer exists. It motivated me to write "Anatomy of the Christmas Shoes" for my own blog, which I've posted over the last four years.

    This is the worst song ever written, and I'm appalled that it is so popular. I'm lucky enough to have completely avoided it this year. If you'd care to read it, here is my take: