I hate Christmas music. More specifically, I hate the two dozen or so tunes that get dragged out and played incessantly (at least in the U.S.) from the week after Halloween until mid-January. I hate that most of them are not very good musically: just mash a few major chords together in a jingle-jangle 2/2 cut time, mouth some words about snow and pine trees and Santa Claus, and bang! Royalties in perpetuity. I hate their ubiquity: you walk into a store, and a syrupy Muzak version of "Jingle Bell Rock" dribbles from the overhead speakers. Turn on the television, and a version of "Winter Wonderland" blares out before you can get your thumb to the mute button. Turn on the radio, and some redneck is singing about Grandma getting run over by a reindeer. Try to check your email, and a pop-up ad starts in with the interminable "Twelve Days of Christmas". And if all of that wasn't bad enough, there is probably someone in your neighborhood who wants to go door-to-door with a bunch of amateurs who can't sing and shouldn't try, cheerfully murdering what little joy these songs might ever have held with their off-key renditions of "Jingle Bells" and "O Holy Night". After they have deployed their weapons-grade screeching to scare the cat and make you yearn for the sweet mercy of death or at least deafness, they have the audacity to expect cider and cookies.
But there is one song that sinks lower than the rest, one that mingles musical insipidity with an almost incomprehensible level of lyrical stupidity, one which almost makes the rest of the horrible genre of popular Christmas songs look good. This atrocity is "The Little Drummer Boy". Rather than soil this page by reprinting the lyrics of this Euterpean excrescence, I will summarize: the Little Drummer Boy of the title is informed that a new King is in town, and that gifts are in order. He goes to the stable and explains that he is poor, but he'd be happy to play a solo for the Baby Jesus. The animals groove along, the Baby Jesus smiles,and everyone is happy, hooray.
Let's start with the obvious: a new mother should have a few hours of rest and quiet bonding time with her new baby, even if that baby is supposed to be the Savior of All Mankind. Add into the mix the fact that this poor girl (and she almost certainly would have been under sixteen--a girl by today's standards) had just been forced to give birth on a pile of filthy straw in a cold, dirty, drafty, smelly barn full of animals and vermin. Do you think that this young lady would be in any mood to hear some little jerk's rom-pom-pom-pomming? Catholic doctrine states that Mary was the only woman ever to be born without Original Sin; I think that if some damn kid had come marching in doing his Gene Krupa impression, the Holy Mother of Christ would have committed the sin of ripping the Little Drummer Boy's arms off and beating him do death with the bloody ends. Anyone who has ever been around the mother of a newborn baby knows that waking the baby is a mortal sin, and that the sinner might not live long enough to be forgiven.
Next, consider the fact that in ancient times, the drum was used as a military signalling device, a use which extended all the way into modern times. Even today, drums are used in military and police ceremonies; high-school marching bands are the modern expression of this ancient martial tradition. By extension, we can surmise that the Little Drummer Boy was not a drummer by choice, jamming in his parents' garage--no, he was a child soldier, most likely as young as seven or eight years old. In these enlightened times, we know that child soldiers are subjected to the cruelest conditions imaginable, including physical, emotional, and sexual abuse; should we assume that the life of a child soldier two thousand years ago would be any easier? And of course, this Little Drummer Boy would almost certainly not have had his commander's permission to be off duty, making him a deserter in the bargain.
So to summarize: a traumatized child soldier abandons his post to go bug the hell out of the Prince of Peace by whacking on a piece of military hardware. And we have tolerated this idiotic song for more than half a century now, all in the name of "tradition", thereby proving that we humans aren't anywhere near as smart as we think we are.
Happy polydenominational midwinter gift-exchanging holiday, everybody! Now pour me another eggnog. Extra rum in this one, please.