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Christmas Carols: A Warning

Christmas. It’s the most wonderful time of the year. They tell you that, in a song. And if it’s in a song, it must be true. It is true and you had better just get on board and believe it, missy, because he knows who’s been naughty and he knows who’s been nice and if you’re not giddy with the joy of the season, you’re going to get something a lot worse than switches and ashes. What you’re gonna get will make you wish you’d gotten a lump of coal, little girl.

Now, the songs don’t tell you that explicitly. They are far more clever than that. They’ve been around for decades, remember? Hundreds of years, some of them. Their siren songs have crushed far stronger souls than yours.

Here’s how they work: they’re chipper, they’re cheerful. They have catchy simple tunes that are easy to remember and hard to forget as they wind their way through and lodge themselves in the undulant curves of your cerebral cortex. They push out important things you’ve been saving in there, SAT words like “undulant” and “cortex.”

Having so implanted themselves within your very being, they begin to take root. They’re like that cruel cactus in Arizona, the one that sheds its seeds in pods shaped like tiny needles. The pods fall to the ground and lie there, benign, until some snake or bird or rabbit – rabbits are best– comes along. The seed pod, which has an outer shell that is spiral-grooved like a drill bit, is covered with tiny, sticky hairs which get caught in the fur of the rabbit. The seed pod, opportunist as it is, twists itself through the dense fur until it hits rabbit flesh. Then it keeps going. It bores through skin, through muscle, past veins and arteries until it hits its mark – the moist center of a vital organ. Then the pod begins to expand. It swells until the seeds burst forth and take purchase in the heart of the unsuspecting animal.

If you look closely at the base of one of these horrid cacti, where its trunk meets the earth, you will invariably find the skeleton of a bunny. That marauding plant infiltrated the innocent creature, grew itself up and through its soul, and left him there to wither, to die, in the desert.

So it is with Christmas carols.

Hum carefully, my friends.

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