Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Tis the season

potentially offensive entry to follow

The airwaves are alive with the sound of Christmas carols. I admit, I like Christmas carols as much as the next person. O Holy Night is probably one of my favorites -- mostly because when I was learning how to play it on the piano, I really enjoyed the part that begins with "Fall on your knees." There was a cool fingering technique going on there so it was fun. But in sum, I generally enjoy Christmas carols (in small doses -- those stations that go 24-7 right after Thanksgiving? No thank you).

But. It's the inexplicable popularity of The Christmas Shoes that gets me. This maudlin, depressing, "no shirt, no shoes, no service policy" of a song has inspired not only a book, but also a television movie starring Rob Lowe and Kimberly Williams.

For me, songs like "O Holy Night" or "Come All Ye Faithful" or "Joy to the World" are more about the Christmas spirit than this tear-jerker of a song. I know I'm supposed to be moved by the image of a dirty little boy counting out pennies to buy his dying mother a new pair of shoes "just in case she meets Jesus tonight" but the logician in me wonders why not a bowl of soup? How about some medicine? Maybe a doctor? Why new shoes of all things?

Then you've got the guy who helps the boy out. I don't know what his story is, but obviously he hasn't got the Christmas spirit until he finds himself guilted into giving the little boy the rest of the money to buy a pair of shoes for his Momma. Frankly, I'd take this guy a lot more seriously if he offered more assistance than just buying a pair of shoes, which according to the boy's sob story, are basically useless to this poor family (other than the joy of making Momma look beautiful for Jesus, I guess).

My other question is, how did this boy get to the store? Did he walk? Did someone drive him? And why didn't the nice man who gave him money to buy the shoes give the child a ride home? And I don't buy that the guy now knows what Christmas is all about. He assuaged his guilt a little by handing over a few bucks, but really, what did he learn? That in order to meet Jesus, you have to have new shoes? That's not Christmas spirit; that's just materialism rearing its ugly head once again.

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