"Chestnuts roasting on an open fire
Jack Frost nipping at your nose
Yuletide carols being sung by a choir
And folks dressed up like eskimos"
- from The Christmas Song, Mel Torme and Bob Wells, 1944
There are three things about Christmas that irritate me:
One, of course, is the obscene commercial exploitation as we indulge in the December 25 orgy of Xboxes, bad ties, and "The 30 Greatest Beer-Drinking Songs on CD, Volume 9".
The second is the replacement of "Merry Christmas" by "Happy Holidays" which, thankfully, hasn't taken root in Australia. While I respect the views of those who don't believe in Christ (and I've been one in my time), the fact remains that if Christmas did not exist, we wouldn't be enjoying a holiday period now. "Happy Holidays" sounds too much like what it really is - a cheesy, alliterative, catchy advertising-agency slogan.
(And no offence intended to those who have personally sent me "Happy Holidays" emails - it's just not part of Australian culture yet, and hopefully not ever.)
And the third is the sheer inapproriateness of winter themes and winter music in a country which celebrates Christmas in the middle of summer. I don't mind portrayals of the prevailing climate in Bethlehem at the time of the nativity, but Jesus wasn't born in rural Vermont, and I don't need to listen to "Let It Snow Let It Snow Let It Snow" while waiting at the checkout at Woolies. (And I don't need to listen to Anne Murray or Celine Dion anytime.)
And with all due respect to Bing, "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas" has sinister connotations in Australia at the moment.
Nat King Cole's recording of the Torme/Wells song is a classic, but it belongs, for me, in the "Celebrating Christmas Around The World" niche.