Album: I Could Rule The World If I Could Only Get The Parts EP
While “Christmas Wrapping” originally appeared on a ZE records Christmas compilation, I first encountered it in the heady days just after KFSR officially went on the air in 1982. “Christmas Wrapping” was simply part of a Waitresses stopgap EP where — as far as I was concerned — the real hook was their theme song to Square Pegs.
After all, at the time Square Pegs was pretty much the first time anything even remote “our” alt-rock / new wave / whatever sensibility had made it to network TV without being an automatic source of derision. And while if you squinted with enough cynicism, you could see all of the compromises necessary to get it on CBS in the first place, it still felt fresh and funny enough.
So their Christmas song, whatever. Especially a Christmas song with a punning title. And a sax hook. And a happy ending. While I hadn’t quite reached my full level of holiday impairment in 1982, I was sure enough getting there, so the last thing I needed was a Christmas song about a year-long meet cute.
Or so I thought.
I don’t know when “Christmas Wrapping” wore me down. I somehow doubt it was 1982, as I was in the full flush of both being a real live DJ (achievement unlocked!) and having my first real adult relationship (achievement unlocked!), and certainly in the mid-1980s, I had other things to worry about as Christmas rolled around, so it probably wasn’t then.
But there it was, every year. Making all of the Christmas songs from my childhood seem, well, like songs from my childhood. Slowly, inexorably becoming a standard. I mean, 36 years later or whatever, it’s now twice as old than “White Christmas” was when I first heard it playing on my parents portable “stereo” as we decorated our beautiful, present-surrounded trees.
All I know is that there became a point where I knew all of the words — delighting in Patti Donahue’s journey from “I think I’ll miss this one this year” to “couldn’t miss this one this year” — and I would get a chill when they met at the end. Unless I got sad, because maybe that Christmas, things were such a mess, no amount of Christmas magic would work.
Of course, that ending is driven by a plot point that seems totally anachronistic, right? Only one all-night grocery? In their (obviously) hipster neighborhood. And of course, in the 21st century, there would have been a zillion ways for them to cross paths and whoops! that Christmas magic has been wiped out by technology.
Which, shut up, Jim.
Now, of course, I can hear how wonderful “Christmas Wrapping” is, free of both its original context as a post-Blondie early white rap appropriation, and all of the years that have passed since it first came out. Easily one of the all-time great Christmas songs.
Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.
Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)
Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page