I was out and about earlier which is strange for me because I’m often out but never about (or vice versa) and I found myself in a Barnes & Noble. Why was I in a Barnes & Noble? The obvious answer would be “books” but when am I ever obvious? I was gift wrapping for charity, if you must know, but all that really and truly is beside the point. (Charity says Hi, by the way.)
The bookstore was of course playing Christmas music, primarily because A) it’s the holiday season and B) the atheists haven’t truly found their musical niche yet. Well, the song that was playing at this particular moment was the old standard It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year by Andy Williams. A less objectionable tune to my sensibilities than, say, Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree or Feliz Navidad, both of which make me want to travel back in time and squash the rising of early Christianity to ensure I will never ever hear them again. (Of course, even then I’ve read enough sci fi and watched enough Twilight Zone to know I’d return back to 2014 to hear Brenda Lee singing Rockiin’ Around the Saturnalia Shrub or maybe Jose Feliciano’s Feliz whatever the hell the Spanish word for Solstice is.)
So the song is playing and I’m half listening, slightly humming along, and I hear a line that I guess I’ve really never heard before. At least it never registered. As you know the song extols the virtues of Christmastime and lists a litany of events and traditions that make it the titular “Most Wonderful Time of the Year” such as carols, misletoe, snow and yuletide parties. Okay, yeah – I’ve heard of those but it’s when Andy sings:
There’ll be scary ghost stories and tales of the glories of Christmases long long ago …
The hell you say? GHOST stories? At Christmas? And before you point out that Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is the quintessential seasonal tale and is virtually nothing but a ghost story I’ll counter with telling you to shut up and not bring logic into my tirade. Regardless, that’s just one story and he sings about ghost stories as if they were a primal part of the festivities alongside egg nog, reindeer, tinsel, trees and lights – none of which he references. He doesn’t even mention gifts! Not a single shout out to presents but ghost stories are cited twice in the bloody song.
I hope you’re as gob-smacked as I am about this whole meshugaas. Ghost stories? In a Christmas song? Maybe there was a bizarre tradition in the mid-20th century wherein people would gather with friends (mentioned) around a roaring fire and roast marshmallows (mentioned) and tell ghost stories but I’ve never heard of it and can find no reference to it on Wikipedia so I know I’m right.
Interestingly enough, I did discover that the song was written in 1963 by Edward Pola and George Wyle. They wrote other songs, probably none of which are as well-known still today, however Wyle did pen the theme song to Gilligan’s Island which may explain this entire mixup. Oh, Gilligan, not again!
By the way, I just checked. The Spanish word for Solstice is Solsticio.