The Christmas traditionalists are winning, and maybe that's as it should be. For whatever reason, though, they continue to insist on snatching defeat from their victorious jaws by taking paranoid jabs at anyone who would dare offer a "happy holidays" wish over a hearty "Merry Christmas!" How many memes have you seen on social media in recent days and weeks depicting "Merry Christmas" greetings in various images that then go on to, in an unnecessary overreaction, criticize anyone who might be offended by such a positive, joyful greeting.
You know, there are three holidays bunched up pretty close on the calendar this time of year. Saying "happy holidays" can easily cover for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's. Plus, there’s Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and all of that other good stuff. But, why even make something of this? Even people with different skin colors who practice different religions (or no religion at all), or are from any number of cultural backgrounds that do not officially recognize or celebrate Christmas...if they're around a lot of people a lot of the time who celebrate traditional Christmas and one of those people wishes them a Merry Christmas, 99.9 percent of them aren't going to be offended one bit. A lot of them might even offer a boisterous "Merry Christmas!" in return. But if they don't, and they instead reply with "Happy holidays to you, too!" they're not waging a culture war or drawing a line in the sand, OK? (You know this, too. You know you do.)
No doubt, we’re living in ultra-sensitive, politically correct times, but you Merry Christmas-ers out there, you’re winning! You’ve won! The weight-challenged lady is singing. So smile. Life’s pretty good.
The Christmas traditionalists are triumphant on the radio airwaves, too. The 1944 classic holiday season song, "Baby It's Cold Outside," featuring the dual back-and-forth vocals between a man trying to get a woman to stay with him for an obvious romantic/intimate encounter and the woman who protests his advances never really raised an eyebrow until #MeToo, and now the song has found itself in hot water.
With holiday music about as difficult to find at this time of year as climate change deniers in the Oval Office, it's a pretty big deal when radio stations pull a treasured holiday tune like "Baby It's Cold Outside" from their seasonal playlist. But that's just what some stations did recently, in major markets like Denver and San Francisco. But then, wouldn't you know it, the people who praised the stations' decision were vastly outnumbered by the people who protested, and some stations started playing the song again.
In its coverage of the saga surrounding "Baby It's Cold Outside," NPR had an interesting take when it spoke to some feminist-historian types, who in mounting a mild defense of the song noted that back in the time when the lyrics were penned, it was considered normal and even expected behavior for any woman with an upstanding reputation to protect to, at least at first, reject a man's romantic overtures, even if she actually likes the gentleman and welcomes his persistent attention. In 1944, it was difficult to find songs about “hooking up” on the radio dial.
"Baby It's Cold Outside" has come up in a couple conversations recently, and one person in the chat loop, a Rod Stewart fan, was surprised when I, for comparison purposes, pointed him in the direction of the lyrics of Stewart's massive 1976 hit, "Tonight's the Night (Gonna Be Alright)."
This song makes "Baby It's Cold Outside" seem like something children would sing at vacation bible school.
Check out these creepy lyrics. (I've offered my own takes in parentheses.)
“Stay away from my window
Stay away from my back door too
(He doesn't want her to try to escape, plus, he doesn't want anyone outside to possibly see her.)
Disconnect the telephone line
(No cell phones in 1976; he's trying to cut her off from the outside world.)
Relax baby and draw that blind
(Again, he may simply want some privacy, but...doubtful!)
Kick off your shoes and sit right down
Loosen off that pretty French gown
(You keep that pretty French gown on, girl!)
Let me pour you a good long drink
(Real original dude...trying to numb her better judgment with alcohol.)
Ooh baby don't you hesitate cause
(Here’s the chorus:)
Tonight's the night
It's gonna be alright
'Cause I love you girl
Ain't nobody gonna stop us now
(He’s made pretty sure of that by now, has he not?)
Come on angel my heart's on fire
(And it's not from eating too much escargot at supper.)
Don't deny your man's desire
You'd be a fool to stop this tide
Spread your wings and let me come inside
(OK, this trio of lines...come on, they're awful. The third line is the sole reason BBC Radio banned the song for a time, but when it became a huge hit they relented and reinstated it on their playlist.)
Don't say a word my virgin child
(Really, Rod? Come on, man. Gross.)
Just let your inhibitions run wild
(He's hoping the effects of that "good long" drink he poured her are kicking in.)
The secret is about to unfold
Upstairs before the night's too old!”
Amid the song’s closing guitar riffs, a woman, Swedish actress Britt Ekland, passionately coos and murmurs pleasure-filled words in French. Ekland was Stewart’s girlfriend at the time; in an interview more than 20 years ago, Stewart said she didn’t want to do it, so he got her drunk so she’d give in.
Santa needs to put Stewart on the naughty list.