Wednesday, December 21, 2011

“Santa Baby” and Baby Jesus

One of the first Christmas songs I recall from my childhood was a song written by Don Gardner in 1946 called “All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth.” What a remarkable time 1946 was. Our country had slogged its way through a decade of the Great Depression and then had faced the horrific struggles of World War II. The time of so much loss was passing and on the horizon was the hope for a new age of peace and prosperity. The remarkable simplicity of the times is not seen merely in a child’s Christmas wish for two front teeth; it is captured in the reason for that wish, “Then I could wish you ‘Merry Christmas.’” Something in that simple desire reminds me that we all struggle to find and articulate the central message of this season.

I’m afraid that the greater reality of our Christmases today is found in a 1953 Christmas song written by Joan Javits (the niece of former Senator Jacob Javits) and Philip Springer. The song first hit the charts when sung by Eartha Kitt; but in the intervening years (unlike Don Gardner’s song, which has virtually disappeared), every Marilyn Monroe type blonde-bombshell seems to have added this song to her repertoire. The “Christmas” song is “Santa Baby.” (Check out the lyrics here: You also will find on the internet many videos of those who have sung the song through the years.)

I’m afraid that Santa Baby’s original tongue-in-cheek spoof of Christmas has become reality in our time. When Christmas decorations compete with Halloween, when Black Friday spills over into Thanksgiving Day, and when our entire economy seems to depend of a successful “Christmas season,” you begin to sense that, not only has “Santa Baby” overtaken “All I Want for Christmas,” it has overtaken “Silent Night” and all of the true Christmas sentiments.

Over the next four days I want to focus on aspects of the Santa-Baby society as it contrasts with the Baby Jesus incarnation. I hope these reflections will help you stop and think about what Christmas means to you.

No comments:

Post a Comment