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Joshua Nichols

Marriage Counselor, Family Counselor, Sex Addictions Therapist

5 Christmas Songs the Kid in Me Loves, but the Therapist in Me Loathes Entirely!

Tue, 12/23/2014 - 09:00 -- admin

I know it has been a long time since I have written a blog entry.  I have been wanting to get started back for quite some time now. I figured that Christmas time is about as good as time as any, right?  Anywho…..I thought I would kick it off with a lighthearted holiday piece concerning some legendary Christmas songs.  

One of the curses that goes a long with being a therapist is the temptation to over-analyze; and that is exactly what I have done here.  Thus, I ask for your forgiveness ahead of time if I, in any way, ruin some of your favorite Christmas songs.  That said, let the OVER-ANALYZATION process begin!

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.  This particular carol is one of the firsts we commit to memory as a child.  It has a catchy beat and an interesting story.  One thing you may or may not know about me is that I tend to root for the underdog – in this case, underDEER (that’s my middle-child syndrome shining through, which is probably why I am also a huge Chicago Cubs fan).  But I think most of us like a good story where the seemingly “weak” or “weird” one rises up and indirectly sticks it to those who bullied and/or didn’t believe in him or her.  Isn’t that the message of the story?  Hmmmmm…….

Let’s take a closer look.

The reason this song drives the therapist in me crazy is that it fails to illustrate that “being different” should not be a determining factor in one’s value.  Instead, the message is as follows: If you are different, then you are NOT of value until the group finds value in your differences (instead of “DESPITE your differences”).  So, thank goodness it was foggy that particular Christmas Eve, or poor Rudolph would never have been included as part of the reindeer team, much less any games they played.  That said, does Rudolph even get to guide the sleigh when it’s NOT a foggy on Christmas Eve?  I don’t think I have seen one Christmas movie with Rudolph in it.  Have you? So he must not have lasted very long after that one night of success. 

Rudolph, if you’re reading this, here is my message to you: don’t let others’ judgments determine your self-worth.  You have to figure out how to just know you are of value because you simply exist (or do you?).  I’d love to help you with that, but I don’t speak Reindeer.

Santa Baby. This song, again, has a catchy beat and is just downright funny.  I find myself chuckling at it just about every time I hear it.  However, is it me, or does it sound like Santa is being seduced?  From the sounds of it, it wouldn’t surprise me if the woman in this song is part of an escort service.  I guess it shouldn’t surprise me that even some escorts celebrate Christmas, but this is taking it too far!  Now, I am most familiar with the version from the soundtrack of the hilarious movie, Elf.  I feel like the singer is doing her best to mimic Marilyn Monroe’s rendition of Happy Birthday when she sang it to JFK.  That said, I am glad I wasn’t there when this song was sung to Santa…….AWKWARD!

I Saw Mama Kissing Santa Claus.  This is a great song, right?  How sweet is that this daddy would dress up as Santa Claus for his family?  Also, this song portrays a very nice image of a young couple that are still in love and sharing a moment of passion after they thought their child was tucked soundly away in bed for the night.  This song is a bit different than the others, because it actually disturbed me more as child and not so much as an adult.  You see, at an age when I still believed in Santa, I didn’t understand that Santa and Daddy were one in the same.  I thought that the mother in this song was actually having an affair with Santa!  HOW DARE HE?! So the part of the song that says, “What a laugh it would have been if Daddy had walked in….” didn’t make sense to me at all because I was thinking, “Daddy wouldn’t be laughing about this. Santa is attempting to split up my parents!”  However, when I hear this song presently, it makes me laugh as I can understand the humor in it.  So, I say, “Mama and Santa, you just keep on making out! But please be more cognizant of young eyes that may be lurking.  The last thing we want is to traumatize young children with a Christmas song portraying Santa making his way around the bases. Not cool.” 

Santa Claus Is Coming to Town.  Like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, this is one of the very first Christmas songs we tend to learn in our life.  I still thoroughly enjoy singing this one with my kiddos.  But there are some lyrics that my therapist self doesn’t really prefer.  Now, I understand the legend behind Santa that says he is always watching.  But, why on earth does he need to watch while we are sleeping?  What terrible thing could a child intentionally do while they are sound asleep?  On a CREEPY scale from one to Tooth Fairy, this one ranks at nine, easy.  If you really think about, there already is a “creepy” component to the whole legend of Santa.  Let’s not make it worse by giving the image that he watches children while they sleep.   

Another aspect about this song that makes the therapist in me cringe has to do with the lyric that says, you better not cry, you better not pout.  There is nothing wrong with children pouting or crying. Actually, for most of the children who still believe in Santa, this is developmentally appropriate.   It is simply expression of emotions, but nothing to be ashamed of or punished for.  That said, if they are reacting to their emotion by throwing fits and disrespecting people and/or property, then that is a different story.  But to ask anyone, not just a child, to NOT cry is ABSURD!  To parents and future parents: Please don’t disapprove of your child’s tears.  It is an APPROPRIATE emotional expression.  So, here is how the song should go: 

You better watch out, you better not throw fits or disrespect people and/or property, but it’s okay to cry and even pout, but what’s important is serving others and doing God’s will.  

I’m telling you why.  Santa Claus is coming to town!

Ahhhhhh…..cut me some slack, I’m a therapist, not a songwriter! Let’s move on. 


Baby It’s Cold Outside. Let me start by saying that this is my single most favorite Christmas song of all time.  So, if you share the same feelings toward this song, you might want to stop reading here as I don’t want to spoil the fun for you.  This one was my favorite to analyze.  So let’s break it down.

First of all, the one factor that makes this duet fun for me is also the one that makes it sound creepy.  That is that the male and female singers are singing their part in a conversation where there is clearly a breakdown in communication.  In essence, neither party is listening very well to what the other is saying.  If they were, then I am pretty sure the guy in the song would have gotten a swift kick to groin by the female counterpart, who would have then taken her chances with the cold.  Take a look at some of the lyrics:

(female) My mother will start to worry;  (male) Beautiful, what's your hurry
(female) My father will be pacing the floor; (male) Listen to the fireplace roar
(female) So really I'd better scurry; (male) Beautiful, please don't hurry
(female) Well Maybe just a half a drink more; (male) Put some music on while I pour

So, first thing I noticed is that the lady in this song must be very young; I’m guessing late teens early twenties.  I mean, she is worried her parents are going to stress about her being out so late.  I’m not going to argue that it could be a different situation, but I think youth is definitely implied.  Then, the guy is trying to distract her from her desire to leave, which he does throughout the song.  He calls her “beautiful” and tries to get her focus on the warmth and coziness of environment she is in.  Then, as soon as she suggests having some more alcohol (i.e., drink)……. well, he wastes no time in jumping right on that.  I mean, he has a better chance of getting her stay if she is a little tipsy right?  Not a good situation.  Let’s keep going.

(female) The neighbors might think; (male) Baby, it's bad out there
(female) Say, what's in this drink; (male) No cabs to be had out there
(female) I wish I knew how; (male) Your eyes are like starlight now
(female) To break this spell; (male) I'll take your hat, your hair looks swell
(female) I ought to say no, no, no, sir; (male) Mind if I move a little closer
(female) At least I'm gonna say that I tried; (female) What's the sense in hurting my pride
(female) I really can't stay; (male) Baby don't hold out
(both) Ahh, but it's cold outside

ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?  Is it me, or does it sound like this guy slipped her a roofie?  She quickly realizes something is off about her drink.  Her eyes are glazed over (i.e., like starlight).  She sees she is under a spell and wishes she should could say “NO!” But, why would a woman say “no” if it is going to hurt her man’s pride, right (disturbing implication)?  But she makes one last ditch effort, at which, he replies, “Baby, don’t hold out.”  Again, ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?  I mean, did know one catch how this sounded when then song was written?  Holy cow! Let’s keep going.

(female) I simply must go; (male) Baby, it's cold outside
(female) The answer is no; (male) Ooh baby, it's cold outside
(female) This welcome has been; (male) I'm lucky that you dropped in
(female) So nice and warm; (male) Look out the window at that storm
(female) My sister will be suspicious; (male) Man, your lips look so delicious
(female) My brother will be there at the door; (male) Waves upon a tropical shore
(female) My maiden aunt's mind is vicious; (male) Gosh your lips look delicious
(female) Well maybe just a cigarette more; (male) Never such a blizzard before

So, she finds some more will to fight. Now she pulls out all the stops trying to convince this fella that “NO MEANS NO!”  But he is clearly not thinking with his brain at this point.  He is completely checked out and focused on devouring her.  She gives in one more time for an extra cigarette.  This type of mind control is pretty common in violent relationships.  

This song really doesn’t give us much more about how that night ended, but for the sake of me trying to continue to enjoy my favorite Christmas song, I am going to choose to believe that she made it home safely and no ill became of her.  I am also going to assume that she was love drunk and there was no foul play involved with her drink.  Just a story about a young couple experiencing that euphoric feeling that we have all felt with our counterparts at one time or the other.  Which is probably the true intention of the song.  

Well, there you have it!  These are a few of my favorite Christmas songs that I also despise if I allow my therapist brain to take over.  I wanted to break down some interesting points about these songs all in good fun, but, my encouragement to you is to enjoy this holiday season and don’t read too much into the lyrics of songs like these.  However, I also encourage you to not turn a blind eye when things like this are happening in real life.  Bullying and child safety concerns, prostitution, infidelity, and date rape are very serious issues that shouldn’t be ignored.  If you haven’t already, I encourage you to make 2015 the year you started to take stand for important issues such as these.  I hope you all had a good year, but hope this coming year you will be met with even more, personal, professional, relational, and spiritual growth and success.


Submitted by Stephanie (not verified) on

I am glad to see that I am not the only person to over-analyze things.  I totally agree with your analysis and have moved most of these songs to my creepy list.  I must say that my favorite comment you made was " On a CREEPY scale from one to Tooth Fairy."  I have not laughed that hard in a long time.  God bless and Merry Christmas

josh's picture
Submitted by josh on

Hey Stephanie,

Thanks for your comment and validating my inability to stop overanalyzing. I am glad you got a good laugh. Merry Christmas.

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