Today, I continue my efforts to look into the assorted Christmas songs floating around the air waves. Those reading my journal who think I've stared with the "Easy" ones will not be surprised by my next choice. I've picked another song whose disturbing imagery and connotations are close to the surface.
I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus
T. Connor (c) 1952
I saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus
Underneath the mistletoe last night.
Well, the twisted aspects of this song start of with a bang. Here we see a small child relating the act of catching his mother in a compromising situation with an individual known to distribute gifts. This is not a good beginning.
She didn't see me creep
down the stairs to have a peep;
She thought that I was tucked
up in my bedroom fast asleep.
This is a fairly ordinary image. I defy you to find a single parent who observes a Christmas morning gift exchange who hasn't encountered this situation. Kids are impatient and sneak down to see their presents, it's a fact of life.
Then, I saw Mommy tickle Santa Claus
Underneath his beard so snowy white;
An here things get worse. Not only is there a make out session, but tickling. We're clearly past the level of a casual moment of passion, and into the kind of actions that generally require a certain level of comfort between the parties. This is not the first time this has happened.
Oh, what a laugh it would have been
If Daddy had only seen
Mommy kissing Santa Claus last night.
Notice the lack of real consequences for being caught. More on this later.
The glee with which the song is normally sung, combined with the complete lack of shame, makes it clear that the child finds the situation amusing. No indication is ever given that the child suspects Santa is really his Father in disguise, nor does the song indicate if this should be taken as implied. Most listeners imply it themselves.
Now for a moment, assume that this song is one that is written, like most Santa centered Christmas sings, under the assumption that Santa Claus is real. What does it say?
First of all, we have a married woman compromising herself in her own home, while her child is home. This man is known to be married, and is supposed to be visiting a large number of children during this meeting.
The child is young, so we can safely assume he / she is either adopted or the mother is under the age of 45.
Assuming the mother is 24 to 45, we see her kissing and tickling a man who is not only several generations older than her, but fat and elderly, kept alive by magic and enchantment. The best case scenario we're looking at is that she's exchanging flirtation, perhaps sexual favors, for material goods. Literally shagging Santa for a diamond ring or pearl necklace.
But what if this isn't a case of sex for goods? What if, instead of a barter form of prostitution, the mother is genuinely attracted to Santa? We have a woman dallying with a man who was elderly when she herself was an infant. At the very least she has some disturbing fixations regarding older men, often considered a sign of sexual abuse.
And what about Santa? He's kissing, perhaps gaining carnal knowledge of, a woman he's known, at least casually, since the first year of her life. He would have seen her grown up, perhaps receiving and reading her letters throughout her childhood. We are often disturbed by a 50 + Rock Star taking up with a 20 something model, how much more distressing is this situation?
It's not unlike the idea of one of the Sesame Street Cast having an affair with a woman who had been on the show as a child. We would recoil at the thought, especially if the program were still showing skits featuring the two love birds when one was in their 20s and the other around 9.
And why is the child amused at the thought of the Father finding out?
Oh, what a laugh it would have been
Why isn't; the Mother's fidelity taken more seriously?
Let's assume the parents are not in a Poly relationship. The father is either emasculated and unable to take his wife to task for her infidelity, or he himself is so unfaithful that he might be genuinely amused to find out his wife is involved with Santa when he himself is having an affair with his secretary.
And what about another, even more disturbing interpretation?
What if the child and father are both fairly masoganistic? What if the husband is abusive, and the child so twisted by an unhealthy environment that he / she finds the beatings amusing? Is the mother desperately trying to recapture a small fragment of a safe and romanticized childhood, or did she find herself with an abusive husband as a result of the mental damage from being molested by Santa himself?
I think we can all see why the general interpretation is to assume that Santa is in fact the father in disguise, and the child probably knows.