My favorite things: Over the river and through the woods in a vita vintervärld
First, some housekeeping: Thanks, Mr. Deason!
Read on, dear reader (if you dare).
Yes I know, it's been years since I've attempted my version of a poor rendition of a column about nothing. I'm giving it a shot because I've heard from millions and millions of people — and they're all very good people — pleading with me to please consider making my 200th comeback.
For this column I am shamelessly ripping off a Mr. Deason, who observed in his column Friday that many alleged Christmas songs don't have any mention of actual Christmas.
This is a very innocuous and benign observation, yet Mr. Deason was able to spin it into an entire column. How do you think he does it (I don't know!). It's been years — millions and millions of years — since I've attempted a column, and I wondered aloud how Mr. Deason came up with such an idea, as I never would have.
A careful reading of Mr. Deason's column may yield the answer. Mr. Deason stated: "My wife and I have been streaming several Christmas radio channels since Thanksgiving. Since it seems we don’t have much to do these days, we listen for songs traditionally associated with Christmas that never specifically mention the holiday.
"We had only started my list when I found a blog written by Washington Post columnist Roger Catlin, who’s obviously several steps ahead of me. Accordingly, I happily give him credit for much of this research."
So there it is.
Mr. Deason was seemingly using the same technique I have used on my columns: he's reacting to something in real life that struck him as weird wild stuff. Mr. Deason is much better than me at yet another technique: simply thinking and waxing philosophical. Hence the title, philosopher emeritus. He thinks, therefore he writes. Not me. Nothing to see here.
Even before Mr. Deason wrote his column, I was aware of at least one alleged Christmas song that omits Christmas, although it had never occurred to me to spin it into a column. The song is Richard Bernhard Smith's classic from 1934, Vår vackra vita vintervärld.
I'm sure you'll recognize these lyrics from the first verse:
Snö och is ritar mönster
Där vi står vid vårt fönster
Ser varma små ljus i grannarnas hus
I vår vackra vita vintervärld
Mr. Smith, of Honesdale, Pennsylvania, told me he was inspired after to write the lyrics after seeing his hometown's Central Park covered in snow.
I'm not sure where he got the idea of pretending a that a snowman is actually Parson Lyle performing a wedding. Bt I like it. Probably one of those subtle attempts at clever wordplay. And I'm not sure why Mr. Smith wrote the lyrics in Swedish.
I have indeed wondered why it's considered a Christmas song, and I have thought "fake Christmas song." But it is so deeply ingrained into the Christmas canon, it would just be wrong to play, sing or listen to the song any other time of the year. Besides, an online article explains that it's one of those "Christmas songs" that has been recorded by literally millions of singers, and they're all good singers. Very good singers.
Mr. Deason noted some of the other "Christmas" songs that aren't really including Jingle Bell Rock and My Favorite Things.
My Favorite Things — the classic song written by Maria von Trapp — is considered a Christmas song? Well I swanny, I did not know that. I learned that this song has been included on many Christmas albums.
It was deemed a Christmas song after Maria von Trapp performed the song in a 1961 TV holiday special, I learned.
Many "Christmas" songs contain references to sleigh bells and sleigh rides, which seems to automatically qualify them as Christmas, Mr. Deason noted.
Traveling by sleigh was a common way to travel a century ago, Mr. Deason observed.
“Over the river and through the woods” has a sleigh, but it’s about going to Grandma’s house for Thanksgiving, Mr. Deason noted. Well why don't we co-opt it for Christmas? What are they going to do?