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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Day 25 - "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" by Jimmy Boyd - 25 Days of Christmas Angst

Review all 25 days of Christmas angst here:   
Merry Christmas!  Happy Holidays! 
Feliz Navidad!  Joyeux Noel!  Fröhliche Weihnachten! 
Mele Kalikimaka!  God Jul!  Sheng Dan Kuai Le!
I saved "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" for Christmas Day for two reasons.  First, it clearly is set on Christmas morning, and more importantly, it is the most disturbing song on the list.
There have been many good covers of this song but in this case I like the original version by Jimmy Boyd (you can hear it here:  http://youtu.be/sVM-Vnjk4J8).

The premise of the song is simple enough.  A child sees his mother kissing Santa on Christmas Eve.  It can be assumed that Santa is really the child's father.  Perhaps the lines in which the child contemplates how his father would react could be taken as purely an expression of innocent wonder: 
Oh, what a laugh it would have been
If Daddy had only seen
Mommy kissing Santa Claus last night.
It is difficult to deny though that we are dealing with a child at a very special age.  He is young enough to still believe in Santa Claus but old enough to understand that his father would be upset by this sight.

When the song was first released it was condemned by the Roman Catholic Church in Boston because of how it connected Christmas to sex.  The Los Angeles Times sums this event up in Boyd's obituary:

"The Catholic Church condemned the song for implying even a tenuous link between sex and the religious holiday, and radio stations in several markets banned it. The ban was lifted after the 13-year-old Boyd appeared before church leaders to talk about the lyrics."

Boyd apparently explained the tradition of kissing under mistletoe to the leaders of the church.  I would agree with his point were it not for this line:
Then, I saw Mommy tickle Santa Claus
Underneath his beard so snowy white
This suggests something more intimate than an obligatory kiss under the mistletoe.

This song is also troubling because it is sung from the point of view of the child the morning after viewing this event.  It would be different if we were seeing an adult reflecting on the event described and realizing his/her own naivety.  Some modern versions of this song are exactly this.

What we are left with in this version is concern for this child who is confused by what he is seeing.  Will this child feel like he has to keep a secret or will he confront his mother?  Is this incident enough to plant seeds of distrust that will interfere with his ability to have healthy adult relationships later in life?

I know, I'm over thinking it.  However, please be careful when you are wearing a Santa suit.

There is a rather long tradition of twisting, tweaking, and corrupting the symbol of Santa Claus and the other traditions of Christmas.  This is okay; it is how traditions and mythologies get refined and become more meaningful.  If something is so easily made ridiculous, it will likely be dropped form our stories and traditions.

I see the giving of coal as a punishment for bad children fading from American Santa traditions.  This is okay.  In the Netherlands the tradition of Saint Nicholas being accompanied by "Black Pete" is gradually going away because of its connections to slavery. 

All of our most meaningful and important ideas, traditions, and myths are continually reinterpreted by each new generation. 

Yes, Cindy Lou, Christmas is changing but no more than any viable, living, relevant, and powerful idea must in order to stay relevant. 
I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus
as performed by Jimmy Boyd

I saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus
Underneath the mistletoe last night.
She didn't see me creep
down the stairs to have a peep;
She thought that I was tucked
up in my bedroom fast asleep.

Then, I saw Mommy tickle Santa Claus
Underneath his beard so snowy white;
Oh, what a laugh it would have been
If Daddy had only seen
Mommy kissing Santa Claus last night.

[next two lines sung by backing singers]
I saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus
Underneath the mistletoe last night.

She didn't see me creep
down the stairs to have a peep;
She thought that I was tucked
up in my bedroom fast asleep.

[next two lines sung by backing singers]
I saw Mommy tickle Santa Claus
Underneath his beard so snowy white;

Oh, what a laugh it would have been
If Daddy had only seen
Mommy kissing Santa Claus last night.


Resources:

"Jimmy Boyd dies at 70; singer of 'I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus'"
http://www.latimes.com/news/obituaries/la-me-jimmy-boyd10-2009mar10,0,6186981.story

"I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus"
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Saw_Mommy_Kissing_Santa_Claus

Lyrics
http://www.lyricsfreak.com/j/jimmy+boyd/i+saw+mommy+kissing+santa+claus_20344386.html

"How 'Merry Christmas' is said...
http://www.santas.net/howmerrychristmasissaid.htm

"Zwarte Piet"
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zwarte_Piet


25 Days Of Christmas Angst
Day Song Download/Purchase Info
25 "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" by Jimmy Boyd Buy the full album:

Buy the song:
Read my blog post for more about this song.
Hopefully Santa brought this boy a down payment on years of therapy.
24 "Silent Night" by John Denver & The Muppets Buy the full album:

Buy the song:
Read my blog post for more about this song.
The story of the song, in the song. Denver and the Muppets take on a Christmas standard.
23 "Carol Of The Bells" by Mannheim Steamroller Buy the full album:

Buy the song:
Read my blog post for more about this song.
Chip Davis brings a driving and slightly ominous feel to a standard Christmas carol.
22 "Christmas" by The Who (from Tommy) Buy the full album:
Tommy
Buy the song:
Christmas
Buy the DVD:

Buy the Blu-Ray:

Amazon Instant Streaming:
Read my blog post for more about this song.
Tommy contains a very disturbing Christmas scene with an equally disturbing song to go with it.
21 "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" by Fred Astaire (from the stop motion classic Santa Claus is Coming to Town)
Buy the DVD:

Amazon Instant Streaming:
Read my blog post for more about this song.
Who is this "Claus" and why is he coming to my town? Did TSA check him out?

Click this link to preview the remaining days of angst or review the previous days:  http://www.carneylentz.com/p/25-days-of-christmas- angst.html
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