November 12, 2007

Save Us All from Santa’s Power

Where I live, there’s a big debate on our Craigslist Raves and Rants section about whether or not parents should tell children that there is a Santa Claus. Some argue that the story will disappoint the child when they actually discover the truth—and by truth, I of course mean the elaborate system of mall Santas who work with the real guy. Others say that Santa is a symbol of capitalism and that he isn’t Christian. This debate is ridiculous—and I’m trying my hardest not to sound like Bill O’Reilly and his made-up war on Christmas. Is this what our society has come to? Extremists on both sides of the political spectrum laying out their case against Santa Claus? And we wonder why children no longer have imaginations, why they’ve become dependent upon technology, why Gap make “My Li’l Slut” t-shirts for adolescent girls. Why do kids need to grow up so fast? Santa Claus was one of my fondest memories as a child—and I believed until I was nine. Some kids made fun of me—but, while I probably knew Santa didn’t exist, I wanted to believe that he did. And I still do.

In the Bleak Mid-Winter – John Fahey
I’ll have a longer post in December about the history of this song. But until then enjoy John Fahey’s always incredible guitar work. He released several Christmas albums—all acoustic, all played by one of the last century’s best musicians.

God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman – Pedro the Lion
It’s sparse and acoustic—oddly haunting yet strangely warm.

This Christmas – Donny Hathaway
Donny Hathaway wants to “carol through the night” with his lady this Christmas. This guy was one of the best R&B singers in the 1970s and, tragically, he died all too young.

A Root’n Toot’n Santa Claus – Tennessee Ernie Ford
When I was in second grade, we had to take music class (yes, remember the days when public schools encouraged creativity and the arts?). Our teacher led us all in a rendition of Ford’s classic “Sixteen Tons” every single week. It wasn’t until years later that I heard the song again—and by that point, my former music teacher had been fired and was found face-down drunk on a street in town—when I wondered what kind of fatalistic and depressing music our teacher had played for us. Luckily, this Christmas tune isn’t nearly as dark.

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