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Making peace with Christmas Shoes

The kids and I were debating the merits of various Christmas songs as we drove home from school. Most school trips this time of year feature the local easy listening station, which plays Christmas music 24/7. Normally, I steer clear of that part of the dial, but I make an exception for these twinkly times.

They have developed strong likes and dislikes regarding the songs. For example, Aidan strongly prefers Nat King Cole’s The Christmas Song above all other renditions. She’s in good company. Nothing tops the sweeping warmth of the opening bars. It’s the soundtrack playing in my head when I carry this season across the threshold. She and I are on the same page.

When the subject turned to the worst Christmas songs, I pounced on em>Christmas Shoes. I clamped my jaws around Christmas Shoes’ neck and shook, and not in the playful way like a Golden Retriever with a squeaky toy. Think mongoose and cobra or me and an Anthropologie clearance table.

Give me the ridiculous theatrics of The Little Drummer Boy! Give me a sniff of oxygen from a tank as I slog through the 12 Days of Christmas. I’ll fake liking those songs, but I would never like or appreciate Christmas Shoes, I ranted without apology.

It’s easy to shred Christmas Shoes. First, the music is boring. The vocals are like an AM radio beer commercial from the 80s, played during a Broncos game. You could ferment hops and barley with the soaring schmalz. Who needs Rocky Mountain spring water when you have the tears of bitter regret? Some old-timers say they spring from the same hole in the ground.

Second, what is a little kid doing out on his own at a store without a parent, while his mom is dying? I’m sure, if mama knew, her life would be shortened out of sheer worry. Stay put, kid. She doesn’t want to picture you at the thrift store next to the interstate overpass.

Third—Horrendously bad theology! Jesus does not care what anyone is wearing when he or she dies. He’s not about to bar mama’s entrance into heaven because she doesn’t have nice shoes. Or any shoes at all. He’s more concerned about the contents of the heart than how stylishly toes are encased in genuine leather uppers.

Lastly: If anyone ever bought shoes for me while I was on my deathbed, I’d think it was a waste of time and resources. Practical to the end. They’ll just be burned up in my Viking funeral.

Aidan and Ryley’s faces fell.

Ryley said that song always made him cry.

Sir I wanna buy these shoes for my Momma 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 will make her smile
And I want her to look beautiful
If Momma meets Jesus, tonight.

Aidan said it was the saddest song, ever, but she loved it.

He counted pennies for what seem like years
And cashier says son there’s not enough here
He searched his pockets franticly
And he turned and he looked at me
He said Momma made Christmas good at our house
Though most years she just did without
Tell me Sir
What am I gonna do?
Some how Iรขโ‚ฌโ„ขve got to buy her these Christmas shoes.

They listen to this same station as they fall asleep at night in their rooms. I’m sure they hear it at least once a night. It’s heavy in the rotation, along with the song about wanting Africa’s most lethal animal for Christmas and that charming song about a guy trying to get the girl to stay because her lips are like waves on a tropical shore. Foaming and smelling of fish?

I thought about them in their beds, little noggins cradled by Spongebob pillow cases with stuffed animals at their sides. As they listen to this saddest of sad, sad, sad Christmas songs, what do they think about?

Mama. Dying. On Christmas.

Size 9.

20 comments to Making peace with Christmas Shoes

  • I am with you.
    I was ranting and raving about the lame”ness” of the song and my husband looked at me… forlorn… and said it made him emotional. WOW. Seriously. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • OK. I’ll be the dissenter. Sweet post, but I loathe that song. Loathe. I will not let my kids listen to it. Ever. And since we get 98% of our Christmas music from iPod and Pandora, I think I can keep that promise.

    (It’s also the reason I turn the radio off when Mark Schultz comes on the local Christian station, because his songs are made up of the same fabric. But that is another post.)

  • I’ve watched the movie. *hang head in shame*

    A Viking funeral, eh? I dig it.

  • oh gosh, i can’t stand that song. it’s so sappy! my 14 year old son, however, loves it! he amuses me like that. if he ever needs to buy me christmas shoes, i hope they are chucks. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • I’m with Kelly. I hate that song, and will NOT let my children listen to it. I hate fake emotion, songs (or anything) that are designed solely to make you cry, without there being anything real behind it. It’s like in that one movie version of A Little Princess, when Sara and her Papa are finally reunited – it’s pure sap, and completely undermines the whole point of the original story, and I resent it fiercely because I always get choked up, even as I KNOW I’m just being played.

    However. Your children are darling.

  • My kids love that song. It is a rare treat for a child when they can obtain a special gift for their parent. We like the song because it was the child’s way of showing his mom he loved her one last time.

  • I can’t believe this is the one! I’ve been reading your blog for a very long time and I’ve never commented (though I should, because I love it so much, your writing is beautiful) until today. Who knew it would be the most terrible Christmas song ever to get me to put (figuratively) pen to paper. Fingers to keys?

    At any rate, if I had to rank it, this song would be the absolute worst. I agree with every point you made, and will add that where is Daddy in all this? He told the boy that Momma was about to die and then sent him out on his own? Terrible parent!

    There is some awful schmalz this time of year, but this is dredging the bottom of that oh-so-maudlin barrel.

    But, yes, it is cute that your children like it. Still doesn’t change my mind though….

  • Amy

    Christmas Shoes may be my least favorite Christmas song of all time. My hubby is not a fan either. I understand that it’s a sappy and sad song, but it’s not a good sad song, if you know what I mean.

    Ironically, we realized several years ago that the lady who wrote the song lives in our small southern town, in a ginormous house. We find it amusing that she has made a small fortune by writing such an awful song. Clearly my personal tastes are not the same as those of the masses.

  • Cheers! I can’t stand that song either! However… did you just sort of insult The Little Drummer Boy? That’s crossing the line…

  • Dawn

    I am with you on this one. But, I can also see both sides. My youngest and I had a conversation as we went into a store. We had just left the car with that song on the radio and when we entered he ran over to the candy bars and picked up my favorite, and said “This is what I would you buy you instead of shoes.”
    He was seven.
    But further talking revealed he stuck on the line “I know these shoes will make her smile.” That’s all he wanted for me on Christmas – to give me something to make me smile. When I have a cough or the sniffles, he always tries to help take care of me. I think that what he focused on in the song, making mommy feel better. I still don’t think he grasped the death concept, not in the song, anyway.
    But it’s good to know he would give me chocolate over red pumps.

  • LuAnn

    I think the haters of this song, have totally missed the point of the song. I love the song. Yes, it is sad and sappy, but I know when my own Mom was dying I would have done anything to see her smile at me one last time. And the small child just wanted to do one last thing that he thought would make his Mom happy in her last hours. You need to not disect the song so much and realize it’s just a made up song through the eyes of a little boy who is buying his Mom one last Christmas gift.

  • edj

    I HATE sentimental songs that manipulate through cheap emotion. There is enough pain and sorrow in the real world! I also dislike “One Last Christmas” although my kids assure me it’s a true story! AUGH! WHY must Christmas songs be so sentimental? I love carols–now there’s some meaty theology. “Mild he lays his glory by; born that man no more may die.” Yes. Now we’re talking.

  • AM radio beer commercial?? Hah!!

    I’m definitely with you on this one.

  • You have described this song in the way that only you can! I really dislike this song too. It is so over-the-top and sappy.

    But 3 years ago, my 38-year-old cousin lay in the hospital dying of cancer. Just as a coincidence of timing and room availability, they moved her into hospice on Christmas Day. At the time, her children were ages 9, 4, 2 and 7 months. I have no doubt that they would have given anything in the world to make her smile on that particular Christmas. She died 2 weeks later.

    So, despite my strong dislike for this song and my best efforts to the contrary, it makes me weep every time I hear it.

  • Whenever that song starts playing, I immediately punch another button on my radio in hopes of changing the station before that awful song gets stuck in my head! If I hear the chorus, it’s all over and it runs through my head for hours! Yuck!

  • You are the winner of some Brachs chocolate stars ๐Ÿ™‚ Shoot me your address.

  • My husband hates the song for the same reason, why is this kid out alone!!

    The part that annoys me is why do they have to point out that hes dirty? also why is he dirty, I know mom is dying but is dad that inept that he can’t do laundry or bathe the kid?

    It still makes me tear up though, because my husbands mother passed from cancer on Christmas eve 9years ago, so it makes me emotional even if parts of it annoy me.


  • Too funny. I just posted a comment to Sarah @ Life in the Parsonage’s blog that I hated hated hated the Christmas shoes song, then went to read the comments and clicked on some of the commenters’ links and saw this. LOL. I blogged about this too. Great minds think alike, I guess.

  • Thanks for stopping by my blog! I have to admit this song has made me cry, but I’m a big sap like that. I never even put it into perspective, I just thought it was sweet that the boy wanted his mom to look nice and was thinking about her. That, and I really like shoes! haha!
    Merry Christmas!

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