I realized it the other day as I was digging out my Alvin and the Chipmunks and The Barking Dogs Christmas CDs. We’re about to experience a shortage even worse than American affordable health insurance policies. My friends, we are running out of new Holiday Schmaltz. You know—those classic sentimental stories, songs, poems and movies that keep audiences enthralled for an entire two months each year and a writer in candy canes from November clear through January.
Think about what new material has to compete with. St. Luke covered the dramatic angle in The Bible—high drama and suspense followed by awestruck shepherds and angelic choirs. Can’t improve on that one. No way. Joseph Mohr and Franz Gruber’s Silent Night comes close, though.
Charles Dickens warned “you better watch out” when he introduced Scrooge to the Ghost of Christmas Past. That message was reiterated on a more mercenary level by Haven Gillespie and J. Fred Coots in their song Santa Claus Is Coming To Town. And we know there’s a Santa Claus. It was proven to everyone’s satisfaction in George Seaton’s Miracle on 34th Street. Well, wasn’t it? Remember, he knows everything.
While we’re on the subject of movies, how can anything beat Frank Capra’s It’s A Wonderful Life for pure sentiment? Or how about Jean Shepherd’s Christmas Story?
The poetry angle was sewn up by Clement Clarke Moore whose daddy, the Bishop of New York, officiated at George Washington’s inauguration. Reading ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas is a worldwide tradition, and well it should be with that kind of pedigree.
Virtually every recording artist who can carry a tune has recorded Irving Berlin’s White Christmas. And for those who can’t, there’s always Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer (Cledus T. Judd).
See what I mean? The market’s been cornered on schmaltz. How does anyone compete with the hands-down best? Me? I’m going to pour me an eggnog and curl up with Alvin, The Barking Dogs and Mannheim Steamroller.
N.K. Wagner is the publisher/executive editor of Page & Spine.
ABOUT N.K. WAGNER
STORIES BY N.K. WAGNER
POEMS BY N.K. WAGNER
ESSAYS BY N.K. WAGNER
CRUMBS BY N.K. WAGNER