7 Holiday Phenomenons That Demand Explanation

Each time the holiday season rolls around, I'm faced with the same confusions I've had year after year -- most of which I forget to clarify in the brief span of time they come to my attention. This year, I'm getting smart and throwing them out there for you guys to answer. Hopefully I will get some explanations once and for all.

1) "My Favorite Things" from The Sound of Music

WHY is this a Christmas song? In what part of The Sound of Music do you witness a Nazi Christmas party, or the VonTrapp kids caroling, caroling through the snow? The only parts of this song I find remotely linked to Christmas are the bits about "brown paper packages tied up with strings" and "snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes," and yet it's included on various Christmas sampler albums and radio station playlists every year. ???

2) People absolutely FREAKING OUT over Christmas starting "too early"

Yes, I'm as much in agreement as anyone about the corporate rush of the holidays being totally vomitrocious, but what the actual eff is the matter with bringing on the rest of the stuff early? Cheerful, jingling throwback tunes on the drive to work! Peppermint everything at Trader Joe's & Starbucks! The general delight of the Christmas spirit!! -- What's not to love here?! And you get the added bonus of early holiday shopping deals, a longer period of approved ugly-sweater-wearing, and everyone (except all the Grinches and Scrooges) feeling twice as jolly. Not really a problem. As long as nothing encroaches on Halloween (a totally different kind of spirit than Christmas), I say haul out the holly. Thanksgiving and its whole history can kiss my holly-jolly a**.

3) Those Clayanimation Christmas Movies

Maybe it's because I was tuned into A Muppet Christmas Carol and The Nutcracker while other kidlings aquired this tradition, but these movies 100% freak me out.

Perhaps it's because I can't watch them without thinking of these guys:

The California Raisins. Let's be real, people: raisins shouldn't dance and talk.

Dried fruit aside, I'm not sure I'll ever fully get behind "Silver and Gold," Frosty, Rudolph, and the like.

4) Christmas in the Sand

Before you get all "Hey, now" on  me -- I'm not talking about the general souls who make their bread and butter in Hawaii or California and make do with the climate they have over the holidays. There's nothing wrong with decorating a palm tree if that's where your home and family are. I'm talking about the people who choose to spend Christmas by a poolside, listening to "Let it Snow" with an ironic smirk on their face.


As Kevin McCallister once said: "I don't care if your idiotic Florida trip gets wrecked or not! Who wants to spend Christmas in a tropical climate, anyway?"

5) "And presents ON the tree..."

You know that song "I'll Be Home for Christmas"? Of course you do. You hear it everyday on the holiday radio stations as early as two weeks before Thanksgiving. It's pervasive, especially when our troops are anywhere overseas.

For the majority of my life, I figured the words to this song went as such:

I'll be home for Christmas
You can plan on me
Please have snow
And mistletoe
And presents under the tree...

Every year, though, as soon as it's all over the radio again, I realized they're not singing "presents under the tree" at all -- it's "presents *on* the tree." And here's where I get confused -- who puts presents on their tree? Is this one of those old-time phrasings of "on"? Like a shortening of "upon"? Whatever the case, when I hear this lyric, all I see is a bunch of wrapped boxes hanging precariously off tree branches -- like no one's Christmas ever.

I could almost understand "presents *in* the tree." It's a tradition in my household to hide at least one present within the branches, just as an extra surprise on Christmas morning. When I'm coming home for Christmas, I definitely demand presents in the tree.

But *on* the tree? Someone explain.

6) The miserable Peanuts' Christmas song

You know the one: "Christmas tiiiiiime is heeeeeeere... happinesssss and cheeeeer..."

Except NO HAPPINESS/CHEER AT ALL because this song sounds like A DIRGE.

What was going on with the composer when he wrote this?? I guess the Vietnam War was happening in 1965, and I get that Charlie Brown has always been a bit of an Eeyore, but does the whole Peanuts world have to be gloom-and-doom because of him? There's that wonderful jazzy piano tune ("Linus and Lucy," I think) that gets everybody dancing and do-do-doo-ing, and then we go... here. With this theme, you'd think the Christmas special would end with Woodstock and Snoopy hanging themselves from the nearest garland.

7) WHO is/was Parson Brown?

In the meadow we can build a snowman
And pretend that he is Parson Brown
He'll say are you married? We'll say "No,man,
But you can do the job while you're in town..."

Every time I imagine this Parson Brown character in my head, he's someone like Elvis or Cary Grant. Some dreamboat everyone had their heart set on marrying. Maybe the Justin Timberlake of the '30s.

I'm sure other people have wondered about this. Probably an easy Wikipedia search, but something I always forget to look up. This year will be the year.

Got answers? Comment below!!


  1. A Parson is a kind of Priest that isn't contained under a larger monastic organization. And "Brown" is a kind of common last name (farmer Brown, etc), so when he asks "Are you married?", it's more that he is the one who will marry you in the sense that he will conduct the marriage. I always figured he was a pretty classic personality in the fictional town where the song takes place. Hope that helps with one of your mysteries!

  2. Now that I know what a parson is, I think that's an accurate assumption. In my mind, he was always Perry Como or something, and I wondered why I hadn't heard of him! Lovely to hear from you, lady.