Those old holiday songs

Published 6:06 pm Monday, December 1, 2008

Now that Christmas on the River week is here, that got me thinking about growing up here in Demopolis around Christmastime.

It was a terrific time of year, with the Christmas on the River things going on, the parade and, of course, the river parade that we could walk to from our house on Main Avenue.

I was thinking about that today, and I was thinking that the one thing I wasn’t very fond of were the Christmas songs. I’m not talking about the carols, like “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” and “Silent Night.” I’m talking about the songs that have become a part of Christmas Americana.

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My first thought, even as a youngster, was that whoever wrote these songs must have all but worshiped snow.


”Dashing through the snow…”

”Walking in a winter wonderland…”

”I’m dreaming of a white Christmas…” and, of course,

”Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!”

That — coupled with songs about sleighs going to people’s houses and roasting chestnuts and scenes from Currier and Ives — led me to believe that whoever wrote these ditties must have been from someplace a little further north than Birmingham — maybe it was one of those “folks dressed up like eskimos” — and from a different time than the late 20th Century.

Christmas in Demopolis was rarely white. It might have snowed about once a year, but that’s okay with me.

I’m not a fan of cold weather, much less the white stuff. I understand that a holiday song singing the virtues of brown grass and bare trees lacks the romance of the others, but it is at least something I can identify with.

So, what’s the solution? Changing the words to talk more about “walking through a Southern wonderland” or something like that?

I don’t know. I’m sure I can tolerate those songs of turn-of-the-century New England for another year, since they do put us more in the Christmas spirit. The music is certainly pleasant enough; it’s just the words that kind of turn me off, not having lived in Connecticut in 1890.

Everyone has a favorite part of the Christmas season, and for many, that includes the Christmas music. Even if we can’t relate to what is being sung about, we can certainly relate to the spirit and the feeling those songs bring.

So, forgive me if I go dashing through the streets in my no-horse open-window Toyota or hear those doorbells ringling, ring-ting-tingling, too. Just don’t be too surprised if you catch me listening to Nat “King” Cole’s rendition of “The Christmas Song.” After all, ’tis the season.

Note: David Snow is managing editor of Boone Publications, Inc.