Christmas Still Life - Candy canesby Robert Gillis
Published in the Foxboro Reporter and Boston City Paper 12/2007

Dear Editor —

I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no humorous Christmas column from Robert Gillis this year. Papa says, “If you see it in The Foxboro Reporter, it’s so.” Please tell me the truth, will Robert Gillis be writing a humorous Christmas column this year?”

–Virginia O’ Tannenbaum

Dear Virginia,

Thank you so much for your letter. Yes, Virginia, there is indeed a humorous Christmas column from me this year. It exists as certainly as love and generosity and UFOs exist. Alas! How dreary would be the world if there were no Christmas column from me! It would be as dreary as if there were no Britney Spears. Wait — bad metaphor. Anyway, to answer your question, this year’s hilarious Christmas column takes a closer (and more modern day) look at some favorite Christmas Carols. If this shatters any of your youthful illusions or Christmas spirit … Well, you’re eight and it’s time to grow up, okay?

Let’s start with, “I’m dreaming of a White Christmas” — Why dream of a white Christmas? The second busiest travel day of the year and you want it to SNOW? Endless flight delays and cancellations, sleeping on the airport terminal floor, you and hundreds of your “little friends” screaming for hours and running in every direction, mile-long backups on the highway, car spinouts, accidents, and the lead story on the news for a week is … wait for it … SNOW. Oh yeah, just like the ones I used to know.

“Winter Wonderland” — a beautiful sight, we’re happy tonight, we’ve got frostbite, did the lights go out? Digging out the car, finding out the snow blower has no gas, slipping on the black ice, feeling cold to the bone … See also, “White Christmas.”

“Sleigh Ride” — I took a sleigh ride with Sue once, in Nordic Village in New Hampshire, in February. It was very romantic, for three seconds, and then the below zero temperature made itself known. (Did you know that New Hampshire measures winter temperature in minus Kelvin?) Have you ever been so cold that you can literally feel the cold inside the calcium in your bones? Put another way, every been to Pluto? That planet (sorry, DWARF planet) is slightly warmer than a sleigh ride, and it’s two gazillion miles from the sun.

“Deck the Halls with Boughs of Holly” — GREAT idea. It isn’t enough that the cat is hacking on the tinsel you insist on hanging strand by strand, let’s spread a poison plant all over the house. The dog will love it too. Keep the animal hospital on speed dial if you put up this “Holly and the Ivy.”

“Do You Hear What I Hear?” — No I don’t, because I took my Prozac.

“How Far Is It to Bethlehem” — Stop asking and look at Google maps, will ya?

“I Saw Three Ships Come Sailing In on Christmas Day” — I have no idea why the Santa María, Niña, and Pinta are celebrated in a Christmas song. Look — Christopher Columbus didn’t discover America — it was Amerigo Vespucci — the guy they named the CONTINENTS after, okay? Columbus never even set foot in America but landed in the Bahamas, where I’d like to be this time of year. Again, see also, “White Christmas.”

“Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” — had a very shiny nose. {Cough} Cocaine {Cough}. Then one foggy Christmas Eve, if Santa conducted employee drug screening, he could have avoided the tragedy of “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” — the most evil song ever written, a celebration of a beloved grandmother’s death — a vehicular homicide of sorts, as granny is smooshed by a reindeer (doubtless a reindeer high on cocaine, {Cough} Rudolph {Cough}. This song, which dates back to biblical times, was voted the most hated Christmas song ever. I made that last part up but most people agree with me.

“I saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus” — Another marriage and childhood destroyed, but what young wife can possibly resist an old, pipe smoking 300 pound fat guy with a cholesterol level of 900 and a bag of brittle and loud toys breaking into the house in the middle of the night and tracking soot and reindeer poop on the rug?

“Last Christmas” by Wham! just doesn’t have the same emotional resonance for me since George Michael was arrested in the mens room … And the park … Maybe that wasn’t mommy kissing Santa Claus after all.

“It’s Beginning to Look A Lot like Christmas” — yep, this year it was beginning to look a lot like Christmas around September 20. Would’ve be lovely to see some Halloween decorations in September, wouldn’t it? Reminds me of a time (swear to God, this is true) I walked into a certain drug store at noon on Christmas Eve and they were putting up the Valentine’s Candy. At noon. On Christmas Eve. If I could work my will, every fool who puts up Valentine candy on Christmas Eve should be boiled in their own champagne and buried with a stake of holly through his heart-shaped box of chocolates. (See how effortlessly I combined the Dickensian quote with Valentine’s Day traditions? Damn. I’m good.)

“Carol of the Bells” – Ding fries are done, Ding fries are done, Wait for the bell, Ding fries are done … You’ll either get that reference or you won’t. Google it — it’s a riot.

“I’ll Be Home for Christmas” — and bringing laundry. Lots of it. Oh, I need money. Lots of it.

“Frosty the Snowman” — He comes alive and his first words are “Happy Birthday!” That’s kind of odd. He and his wife Crystal (voice of Shelley Winters) had two kids, Chilly and Millie. Or perhaps it was Millie and Vanilly? They don’t run that TV special much anymore. Perhaps it was due to Millie Vanilly losing the Grammy? I wish I knew.

Finally, the worst for last: “The Merry Christmas Polka” — I never even heard of this one but it sounds like it should be played to punish convicted murderers.

Virginia, thanks again for your letter. Have a Merry Christmas! And before you ask about the whole “Is there a Santa Claus?” thing, um, not so much.

Hello There!

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