This time of year, airwaves are flooded with saccharin sweet Christmas tunes that make us believe in the unbelievable. In the world of Christmas music, Rudolph, Frosty, and Santa are the living embodiment of the love that makes our hearts grow three sizes.
There’s another class of Christmas songs that sing about the lonesome tug of a Christmas without someone special. You may recognize their heavyhearted bass lines and piano note waterfalls. By my count, Mariah and Elvis are both pining for you, specifically, by name.
The typical Christmas lonely love song is a one-sided ballad. It tells you all about the plight of the sobbing protagonist, who is feeling cold, abandoned, and jealous of all the joy they see around them. These songs make a bit of a scene though, don’t they?
If I were the subject/target of one of these selfish pleas, I’d have something important to interject. These songs make it seem like it’s all my fault that the singer is miserable this year. As if my inability to meet under the mistletoe is ruining Christmas. It makes me the bad guy, no? But wait a minute, Elvis. Don’t I get a say in my own Christmas whereabouts?
Isn’t it pretty likely that you have Christmas plans already? Maybe you, like so many of us, are planning to visit your family. They’d be devastated if you canceled at the last minute. What are you supposed to do? Can’t we compromise?
While these melodramatic love songs swirl in their own self-pity, “Please Come Home for Christmas” takes a stand for being reasonable. Sure, its lead vocalist is having a tough time. He admittedly “has no friends,” but he doesn’t blame you. And he doesn’t get passive aggressive about it either. He just asks you, politely, to “Please Come Home for Christmas.”
That’s a perfectly fair request, Don Henley. I’m willing to hear you out.
Compare that to the unrelenting begging of Darlene Love’s “Christmas, Baby Please Come Home,” which asks you to please come home seven times and crescendos in eight — count them, 8! — consecutive pleas of PLEASE. It’s over the edge. You’re no longer polite; you’re desperate. You’re annoying and monotonous.
Like, what if you can’t? What if you can’t actually come home? What if you have plans already? What if you’re having surgery? “Please Come Home for Christmas,” offers a reasonable and realistic alternative for those of us who are tired of being pestered by crooning harpies. Instead, this song offers a compromise: “If not by Christmas, by New Year’s night.”
Thanks Bon Jovi and friends. You provide real hope this holiday season.