Christmas, Top 10

Top 10 Worst Christmas Songs of All Time ~ 2

Originally published December 7, 2018

There are so many fun and joyful Christmas carols and songs we love to sing at this time of year …. and so many that drive us bonkers! The Top 10 Worst Christmas Songs of All Time has become an annual tradition here on the blog. But every year I get more and more suggestions of songs to add to the list. There sure are a lot of cringey Christmas tunes being crooned out there! You asked for it, so here it is – in no particular order – ten more of my top picks for worst Christmas songs of all time.

1. Please, Daddy, Don’t Get Drunk this Christmas – I can just picture the artistic meetings that took place on this one: “We need a new Christmas song for your next album, John. Any ideas?” “How about a potential domestic violence case set to country music? That’ll fill everybody’s heart with Christmas cheer!” 

2. Dominick the Donkey
Dear Italy,
Please stick with what you do best – food
and opera.

3. Happy X-Mas, War is Over (So This Is Christmas) – Excuse me, but I think you’re looking for Woodstock. Go back several decades and hang a left.

4. I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas – Why not? I wanted a monkey for Christmas when I was a kid. I stand in solidarity with this kid and every other kid who wanted a ridiculous animal for Christmas and never got one. (To be honest, I think this song is kinda cute {be sure to catch grown-up Gayla singing it at the end of the video}. I include it on behalf of all my readers who said it’s driving them to the loony bin.)

5. Hard Candy Christmas – Maybe I’ll wallpaper my bathroom. Maybe I’ll get a mohawk. Maybe I’ll eat cold Spaghettios right out of the can. MAKE👏UP👏YOUR👏MIND👏

6. Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time – There’s good 80’s synthesizer and there’s bad 80’s synthesizer. I’ll let you guess which one earned this song a spot on the list.

7. White Winter Hymnal – “It’s lyrically fairly meaningless.” That’s what the songwriter had to say about this song. Dude, lemme ‘splain you something about songwriting. When you have a cool piece of music like this, don’t waste it on meaningless lyrics. Collaborate with a good writer and make it an awesome song with meaning. (Let me also take this opportunity for my annual reminder: Pentatonix is not a Christian group, regardless of the songs they record. According to Pride magazine, “Two of Pentatonix’s members, Scott Hoying and Mitch Grassi, are openly gay, and the group vocally supports the LGBT community.”)

8. Driving Home for Christmas – This song is the musical equivalent of driving across west Texas. And by that, I mean – monotonous. (Sorry west Texas, but you know it’s true.) At least he didn’t regale us with the number of each mile marker as he passed it. Thank the Lord for small favors.

9. I’m Gettin’ Nuttin for Christmas – Quick! Somebody get the rod of correction – this kid is out of control! Cute, but not your best work, Shirl.

10. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus – Kid witnesses Mom stepping out on Dad and is traumatized for life. Just one more reason not to lie to your kids about Santa Claus. (Tell them it’s Dad, ladies, and you can kiss him all you want! :0)

What do you think? Did your “worst song” make the list?

Christmas

Is Christmas Pagan?

Originally published December 5, 2019

If you’re a Christian, you might have heard the anti-Christmas rumblings on social media, or maybe even in real life: Christmas has pagan origins…Santa’s elves started out as demons…the Roman winter solstice celebration of Saturnalia morphed into Christmas…Mithras…Krampus…the “naughty list” about the origins of Christmas goes on and on. Are these things true? Should Christians celebrate Christmas?

There’s an old story about a woman who made a ham every year for Christmas dinner. As she was preparing it one year, her daughter asked, “Mom, why do you cut off the end of the ham before you put it in the oven?” The woman answered, “That’s the way my mom taught me to do it.” The woman thought about her daughter’s question all day long, and finally decided to call her own mother to ask about it. When the woman got her mother on the phone, she asked, “Mom, why did you teach me to cut off the end of the ham before putting it in the oven?” The woman’s mother said, “That’s the way my mom taught me to do it.” Intrigued, the woman called her grandmother and asked once again, “Grandma, why did you cut off the end of the ham before putting it in the oven?”. Her grandmother replied, “Because I didn’t have a roasting pan large enough for a whole ham.”

Human beings are creatures of habit and tradition, so it’s always important to examine why we do the things we do. As Christians, whether it’s putting up a tree every year, a beloved hymn we’ve been singing since we could talk, or the annual church picnic, our brains should never be on autopilot, unquestioningly taking part in activities by rote.

Do some aspects of the celebration of Christmas find their origin in millennia-old paganism? Possibly. But are you participating in that paganism if you put up a tree or give gifts at Christmas? Probably not. The “Christmas is pagan” lore is so ancient and uncertain that most people aren’t even aware of it. How could you possibly be participating in paganism if you’re not even aware of its existence, you have no intention of participating in it, and it has nothing to do with your reasons for celebrating?

Did you know that many of our days of the week and months of the year were originally named for pagan idols and gods? “Sun”day was originally a pagan Roman holiday, and the sun was an object of worship for many ancient peoples. Should we stop having church on Sunday because of that? Are we somehow participating in paganism by holding the Christian day of worship on an ancient pagan feast day? Of course not. Ancient pagans don’t own certain days on the calendar or any particular object or symbol. The Bible tells us, “The earth is the Lord‘s and the fullness thereof.” When godless people take a day or an object God has created and use it for evil, they are the ones in the wrong, not godly people who come after them and want to use that same day or object for a godly purpose. To say that Christians can’t use a certain day or object for celebrating Christmas because pagans used that day or object for pagan purposes is to give those ancient pagans power over Christians. Power they have no business holding.

Furthermore, just because pagans used a day, an object, or a symbol for their wicked practices hundreds or thousands of years ago does not mean those days, objects, or symbols carry the same meaning today. Think about the way a mere word can change meanings in such a short time. The 1890’s were known as the “Gay Nineties.” The song, “Deck the Halls” contains the phrase “don we now our gay apparel.” The primary meaning of the word “gay” – just 100-150 years ago in our own country – was “happy, merry, or festive.” Now it means “homosexual.” But the “Christmas is pagan” folks would have us believe we’re supposed to attach centuries old definitions and foreign cultural practices surrounding Christmas and other winter observances to our 21st century American celebrations? Santa may have had demon elves hundreds of years ago in another country and culture, but in our culture today, they’re just his happy little helpers – no demonic strings attached. The meanings of cultural practices and symbols change over time.

And if anyone should understand that, it ought to be Christians. We took the cross – “the emblem of suffering and shame” to everyone in the known world at the time of its use – and turned it into a symbol of victory and triumph. The Romans wanted people to look at the cross and think, “criminal.” Today we look at the cross and think “Christ.” They wanted the cross to evoke fear. To us it means freedom. The cross used to mean humiliation. Now it reminds us to honor our glorious Savior.

Certainly, there’s no biblical requirement for Christians to observe Christmas in any way, so anyone who doesn’t want to observe the holiday doesn’t have to. Conversely, there’s nothing in the Bible that says we can’t celebrate Christmas, so Christians are free to do so as long as we aren’t violating any of the clear commands and principles of Scripture. But whatever conclusion we come to, it’s crucial that we base everything we do on God’s Word correctly applied to our actions and motivations, not supposed connections between Christmas and paganism. There are probably dozens of objects in our homes, traditions we observe, and days on the calendar that can, if we go back far enough and look hard enough, be traced back to one pagan religion or another. Don’t be ruled by that. Christians are ruled by God’s Word, not fears and superstitions.

So let’s be sure we take some time to examine our Christmastime traditions. Why do we put up a Christmas tree every year? What do we tell our children about Santa Claus? What do the words of those Christmas carols mean? Are we doing anything that conflicts with Scripture? If so, it’s incumbent upon us to stop, repent, and make sure “whether [we] eat or drink, or whatever [we] do, do all to the glory of God.” Because it’s not about what pagans did centuries ago a world away, it’s about what we’re doing today, why we’re doing it, and whether or not it glorifies God.

Scriptures to Consider:

Romans 14

1 Corinthians 10:23-33

Colossians 2:16-23

Additional Resources:

Myths on the Myths of Santa Claus at When We Understand the Text

Other Christmas Myths at When We Understand the Text

Can Christians Celebrate Christmas? at CARM

Christmas at Got Questions

Is Christmas a Pagan Holiday? at Ligonier

Should Christians Celebrate Christmas? by Mike Fabarez

The Bible reveals Xmas day on the 25th-not from paganism by Agustin Astacio

Christmas Is Not Pagan at Christian Answers for the New Age

Christmas, Top 10

Top 10 Worst Christmas Songs of All Time

Originally published December 12, 2014christmas 10

For me, part of the reason Christmas is the “most wonderful time of the year” is the music. There are the old favorites as well as some great new songs that have come out over the years. Unfortunately, there are some stinkers out there, too. Everybody has her own taste, so the songs that give you the Christmas crazies are probably different from the ones that get on my nerves, but, here, in no particular order, are my ten picks for the worst Christmas songs of all time.

1. The Christmas Shoes– Hi, we’re going to write a song that’s a blatant attempt at emotional manipulation, and then if you say you don’t like it, people will think you’re heartless. Merry Christmas.

2. Last Christmas– Really? We have to listen to co-dependent whining about a break up in a Christmas song? And from Wham?

3. Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer– This has such a catchy tune. It’s too bad the family in this song belongs on Jerry Springer.

4. Same Old Lang Syne– This is my pick for the absolute worst “Christmas” song (it really has nothing to do with Christmas) of all time. The only good thing I can say about this is, at least the people in the song didn’t actually have an affair. It’s bleak, it’s immoral, it’s depressing, and it’s the same four bars of melody over. and. over. and. over.

5. Must Have Been Old Santa Claus– “Happy ho, ho, ho to you.” Four million times. Kill me. Kill me now.

6. Baby, It’s Cold Outside– Because nothing says “Merry Christmas” like attempted date rape by a drink drugging letch.1

7. Santa Baby– They could have named this song “Sugar Daddy” or “Implied Sexual Favors in Exchange for Obscenely Expensive Gifts.” Same thing.

8. Mistletoe– I’m just going to make a rule right here, right now: no Christmas songs that force middle-aged people to go to Urban Dictionary to understand the lyrics. My kids had to explain to me what “shawty” means. Apparently, it’s similar to a “bae.”

9. Do They Know It’s Christmas?– Stop having Christmasy fun RIGHT NOW. Just STOP IT. Don’t you know there are people starving in Africa, you soulless oaf? And, seriously, who puts the word “doom” in a Christmas song?

10. Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s Christmas Canon– It pains me to list this one because I love TSO, I love children’s choirs, I love Pachelbel’s Canon in D, and I love the idea of trying to Christmas it up. But I would rather eat a ten year old fruitcake than listen to this.

 Agree? Disagree?
What do you think is the worst Christmas song of all time?

If you love to hate these 10, be sure to stop back by the blog on Friday for volume 2 of Top 10 Worst Christmas songs of all time!


1(2020 Update: You may have noticed at the beginning of this article that I originally wrote it in 2014, long before the #MeToo movement, and long before the explanation of what the composer of Baby, It’s Cold Outside purportedly meant by it was in general circulation. My brief evaluation of the song in #6 is based solely on the impression I was left with by the lyrics, much the same way people have taken umbrage with Reckless Love based on the lyrics alone, despite Corey Asbury’s explanation of what he supposedly meant when he wrote it. I am not a liberal, a feminist, or on the #MeToo bandwagon. I’m confident my track record bears this out, and I’m appalled by accusations to the contrary based solely on my one sentence reaction to this song.)

Christmas

The Gospel According to Carols

Last Christmas season I ran a meme series on my social media pages called The Gospel According to Carols. Many of our favorite Christmas carols include the gospel, so this is a series of memes with gospel quotes from Christmas carols to help us keep our focus on the gospel during the hustle and bustle of the season.

The series was so popular last year I decided to run it again this year. If you follow me on social media you’ll see one of the memes below each evening from December 1-24. If you don’t follow me on social media, all of the memes are posted below. The title of the carol precedes each meme(s) and is linked to a YouTube video of that carol. In addition to sharing these around on social media (or using them as your cover photo) to remind ourselves, our friends, and our family of the true reason for Christ’s incarnation, I thought of a few other ways you might like to use these.

Decorative Place Cards

In my article (and podcast) 10 Ways to Share the Gospel During the Holidays, I mentioned printing out these Bible verse memes on thankfulness and placing one at each place setting on your Thanksgiving dinner table as a way of initiating gospel conversations. The Gospel According to Carols memes could be used in the same way at your Christmas party or dinner.

Christmas Cards and Gift Tags

Not crazy about the rapidly dwindling selection of Christmas cards at your local retailer? Choose one or more of these designs, print them out on card stock and use them for Christmas cards. Or, minimize them to gift tag size, add a “to” and a “from,” print them out on card stock, and use them for labeling all your Christmas gifts.

Party Game

Instead of “Name that Tune,” make it “Name that Carol” by reading the quote aloud and having your guests guess which Christmas carol it came from.

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

Silent Night

Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming

Child in the Manger

O Little Town of Bethlehem

The First Noel

Good Christian Men Rejoice

We Three Kings

Joy to the World

Thou Didst Leave Thy Throne

While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks

Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus

Glorious Impossible

Christmas, Mailbag, Parenting

The Mailbag: What should we tell our kids about Santa Claus?

‘Tis the season for Christmas-themed Mailbag questions! Got a question about something related to Christmas? Leave a comment below or e-mail me.

Originally published December 4, 2017

As Christian parents, is it OK for us to tell our children about Santa Claus?

Christmastime can be so much fun when you have children. Many of us remember the excitement of Santa, the Christmas tree, and presents from our own childhood. They’re happy memories, and we want to recreate those for our children.

But as Christian parents, our first priority isn’t fun, it’s obedience to Scripture. Yet is there a way to make Christmas merry for our children while still upholding God’s Word? Is Santa patently unbiblical?

No, he doesn’t have to be, as long as he keeps his sleigh parked inside the parameters of Scripture. Let’s take a look at some of the ways Santa can be unscripturally naughty, and how godly parents can keep him nice and biblical.

Santa Claus isn’t real. If you tell your children he is, or that he is the one who brings their presents, or that he knows whether they’ve been naughty or nice, you’re lying. The Bible says that lying is a sin, period. There’s no exception for jolly old elves who pass out toys (or for tooth fairies or Easter bunnies, either, for that matter). And not only is lying a sin, it is extraordinarily hypocritical to lie to your children about Santa Claus and then turn around later and punish them when they lie about something. Lying to your children about Santa Claus teaches them that it’s OK to lie (i.e. sin) when you want to or when it would be to your advantage.

Don’t lie to your children about Santa Claus. Tell them the truth: he’s a fun, fictional character that we can enjoy reading stories and singing songs about, just like Goldilocks or Superman or Old MacDonald. As for the presents, maybe you’d like to handle it similarly to the way my husband and I did with our children. When they were very small, my husband or I would don a Santa hat on Christmas Eve and say something like: “You know how you like to play pretend? Well, mommies and daddies like to play pretend, too, especially at Christmas! Now it’s time for you to go to bed so we can pretend to be Santa Claus.”

Santa Claus isn’t omniscient. 

He sees you when you’re sleeping
He knows when you’re awake
He knows if you’ve been bad or good
So be good, for goodness’ sake!¹

Uh uh. No way. Omniscience is an incommunicable attribute of God. He is the only One who has the power to see and know all things, and it is an insult and an affront to Him to even suggest that a mere mortal – let alone a fictional character – has the same power and knowledge that He has. In reverence and awe for God’s preeminence, we should never ascribe to others the things that belong to God alone.

Teach your children about the attributes of God. When you read your children stories about Santa Claus or hear Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town on the radio, it’s a perfect opportunity to teach them about God’s omniscience and power. “Did y’all just hear that? That song said Santa Claus can see you and knows how you’re behaving. Is that true? Who is the only One who always sees you, cares for you, and knows what you’re doing and thinking? Can anybody else besides God do that?”

Santa Claus teaches works righteousness. In St. Nick’s economy, good behavior earns a reward (presents). Bad behavior earns punishment (coal). If you’ve ever shared the gospel with anybody, that will probably sound familiar. Most lost people think that’s what Christianity is. If you’re a “good person” God is happy with you and you’ll go to Heaven. Hell is the punishment for “bad people”: Hitler, murderers, and rapists. This is not what the Bible teaches, either about salvation, or about why children should obey their parents.

Teach your children the gospel. Again, this whole “naughty or nice” part of the Santa Claus narrative is a perfect gospel-teaching opportunity. Take advantage of it! Ask your child to be “nice” for one whole day. At bed time, take a few minutes to talk about the times she messed up and was “naughty” when she was supposed to be trying to be “nice.” Nobody can be nice and obedient all the time, no matter how hard we try. We are all naughty, coal black sinners deserving the punishment of Hell. Jesus came and lived a life of perfect “niceness” (obedience) died on the cross to take the punishment for our naughtiness, was buried, and rose again. He did that, not because we earned it with good behavior, but because of His mercy and grace. And then He gave us the greatest gift ever. A gift we naughty people don’t deserve: salvation and eternal life in Heaven. And it is because of our love and gratitude to Christ for saving us that we obey Him, not so that He will give us what we want. Indeed, the Bible tells us that the more obedient to Christ we are, the more persecution we will face.

Santa Claus doesn’t automatically have to be on the Christian parent’s naughty list. There are lots of ways to enjoy the fun of Santa and even turn him into an opportunity to teach your child biblical truth, all while being obedient to Scripture. But if Santa makes you biblically uncomfortable in some way, then by all means, don’t go against your conscience. Whichever way you decide – after prayer, study of the Scriptures, and discussing it with your spouse – do not judge other Christian parents by your personal convictions about Santa Claus. And have a Merry Christmas!

¹Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town. John Frederick Coots and Haven Gillespie, 1934.

If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.