14 July

Carols for heathens

Although most traditional carols are set in the stable, these ones are secular and are typically about eating (which is a pastime available to all religions) and drinking (which is available to many religions):

  • The Boar’s Head Carol[1]
  • O Christmas Tree
  • Twelve Days of Christmas
  • We Wish You a Merry Christmas[2]
  • A surprising variety of wassailing songs

And there are cartloads of modern, secular songs. Here is a small selection:

  • All I Want for Christmas Is You[3]
  • Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy[4]
  • Feliz Navidad
  • Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
  • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer[5]
  • Santa Claus Is Coming to Town
  • White Christmas[6]
14 jul 2016.jpg
Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer: an unseasonal tale of bullying.

My son Jeremy will be turning twenty-one this year so he’ll be having a party. (“We don’t have to, Mum,” he said. “Yes, we do,” I replied.) He said he’d like to invite about twenty pals and I added twenty relatives and family friends but I’ve asked Hannah what to do about my ex-in-laws.[9]

“Do you want Dad to come?” Hannah asked Jeremy.

“I’m not expecting him to come,” Jeremy replied. “The last birthday party he said he was coming to was my nineteenth, but the last one he actually came to was my eleventh.”

“So do you want me to invite him?” Hannah persisted.

“I really don’t want to spend another birthday waiting for him to arrive,” said Jeremy, “But I guess I have to,” (Unlike Hannah, Jeremy has an easy-going relationship with his father but the missed birthdays do rankle with him.)

[1] Not suitable for vegetarians.

[2] Plenty of figgy pudding here.

[3] This is far more convincing that “All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth”, a song from the 40s that is best left to old fogeys from the 40s.

[4] Okay, it’s a dance rather than a song but it still counts as Christmas music.

[5] If you’re very strictly non-Christian, you might choose to omit Santa songs since Santa is related to the Christian bishop known as St Nicholas.

[6] Apparently, when Irving Berlin wrote this, he said to his secretary, “I just wrote the best song I’ve ever written – heck, I just wrote the best song that anybody’s ever written!” and you can’t argue with a carol that has sold over 100 million copies.

[7] It’s also not a good song for anyone with any musical or literary discernment.

[8] And from every other yuletide playlist you have.

[9] Not the same as outlaws.

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