Well, my happy one-week break away from home and school and everything is ended, along with Christmas which I guess doesn’t affect me as much as it does some since I don’t actually celebrate it but regardless, it’s over, and I’m relieved.
As I’ve mentioned briefly in the past, I work at a small thrift store, and, as I’ve also mentioned, am often pelted with sub-par music at the hands of our variety-free local Christian radio station, but this last month has been kind of nice since the station has been playing Christmas music exclusively and I love Christmas music. Sure, the station managed to keep the long arm of variety out of its playlists as it played the same four songs over and over as reinterpreted by seven different artists, but dangit I like Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith, and I almost never get to hear them except at Christmas.
So it was good, right? And surely not even a nit-picky little Grinch like me could have the heartless nerve to break down a Christmas song, right? I liked the music, and I’m sad now that it’s gone back to regularly scheduled programing.
But one song of the holiday I definitely will not miss, ever, even if I never heard it again, is Christmas Shoes.
I look for “Christmas Shoes” and this is what I get. Oh well.
The premise? A man goes to the store and there’s a kid in front of him in the check-out line and he’s a totally normal boy.
Except wait! He’s poor looking.
And then he tries to buy these shoes and tells the cashier for some reason that they’re for his mom, because she’s sick, and she’s probably going to die soon, and the shoes will make her happy and also pretty for when she meets Jesus.
But oh noes! Kid has not enough money!
So the kid looks at the singer of the song and repeats the same exact story to him. And the man pays for the shoes. And the kid leaves. And the guy had some kind of Christmas epiphany or something. Lyrics:
It was almost Christmas time, there I stood in another line
Tryin’ to buy that last gift or two, not really in the Christmas mood
Standing right in front of me was a little boy waiting anxiously
Pacing ’round like little boys do
And in his hands he held a pair of shoes
His clothes were worn and old, he was dirty from head to toe
And when it came his time to pay
I couldn’t believe what I heard him say
Sir, I want to buy these shoes for my Mama, please
It’s Christmas Eve and these shoes are just her size
Could you hurry, sir, Daddy says there’s not much time
You see she’s been sick for quite a while
And I know these shoes would make her smile
And I want her to look beautiful if Mama meets Jesus tonight
He counted pennies for what seemed like years
Then the cashier said, “Son, there’s not enough here”
He searched his pockets frantically
Then he turned and he looked at me
He said Mama made Christmas good at our house Though most years she just did without
Tell me Sir, what am I going to do,
Somehow I’ve got to buy her these Christmas shoes
So I laid the money down, I just had to help him out
I’ll never forget the look on his face when he said
Mama’s gonna look so great
I knew I’d caught a glimpse of heaven’s love
As he thanked me and ran out
I knew that God had sent that little boy
To remind me just what Christmas is all about.
Wow. Okay. Three things.
1) This kid is one shallow little jerk. His mom’s dying for heaven’s sake, and all he can think about is “oh no what if she’s ugly and JESUS sees her?!” If I’d been the clerk at the counter I’d have smacked him for being so dumb: what was he, some kind of messianic ancient-Egyptian kid? You can’t wear your shoes to the afterlife. You just wasted some stranger’s money.
You know what I would want to do for my dying mom on Christmas (you know, if I had a dying mom and not a regular, healthy kind of mom)? My time and attention. Here this kid is traipsing around town begging for money so that his mom can be PRETTY, while she wastes away in some hospital somewhere. Poor priorities, shallow. No stars.
2) I think the man who payed got conned. I mean, here this kid makes a big deal to the cashier about the shoes, when the cashier didn’t even ask, as if the kid’s trying to draw attention to his purchase. Then, when he finds he has no money, he repeats the exact same story again, as if it were rehearsed. A little convenient…tooo convenient…
It’s a flawless plan, actually. For a psych project a group in my class did an experiment just like this…one tried to buy some fries at the cafeteria, pretended to have lost their money card, and asked the person behind them to pay, just to see how many strangers would honestly fork over cash for someone. Turns out, a lot did. A nice, big majority. And college kids aren’t even cute little boys.
Yeah, what happened in real life is the kid waited outside for the good Samaritan to leave, then returned the shoes for some nice, hard cash, which he then probably spend on drugs or something. Kids these days. A sucker born every minute.
3) This song is manipulative. Every time it played someone in the store would say, oh, this song always makes me cry. And that’s the point.
The point of this song is not to lift spirits or to inspire, or even tell a good story. It’s to make people cry. It’s an emotionally manipulative song, and I always feel toyed with when it’s over. I for one do not stand for emotional terrorism like this. I hate songs tailor made to make people cry…a song can be sad without being this kind of cold, calculating heartstring-pulling. It’s a special formula and I don’t approve.
And I hate seeing people suckered into feeling bad for some shallow, imaginary, con-artist kid when it’s supposed to be such a light happy time of year.
And…point four, I guess: Bob Carlisle. He wrote it. Bob Carlisle of the ridiculous to spell last name and the song Butterfly Kisses, another song tailor-made to jerk tears. This guy seems faaaar too eager to sell his listener’s heartstrings in for a few bucks.
I think it’s about time these kind of sappy songs were retired. Next year, the first time I hear that song, I’m going to…to…make myself a tray of cookies.
Hot dang I win.