Tuesday, December 24, 2013

'Twas the post before Christmas...

Parodies of songs and poems are a big part of my writing life. Since I mostly write them just for the heck of it, they don't run on any particular schedule, and sometimes months pass between one parody and the next. But in the weeks since Thanksgiving and Hanukkah coincided, I've felt the urge to generate them constantly. Some have found their way onto Facebook or the store's blog; others haven't even been worth writing down (if you're going to sort a mountain of eight-by-eights, you might as well mumble-sing about them to the tune of whatever's been playing over the PA). It's always been like this. Holidays - my own and other people's - bring this out.

It's not just me, either. How many parodies do you hear on TV between, say, January and (early) October? And in the past two months, how many commercials have you heard that are based on "Jingle Bells," "Deck the Halls," or the especially ubiquitous "A Visit from St. Nicholas?" Look around. Scroll through your social media outlet of choice. How many altered lines from Christmas carols do you see?

Why do we have this tendency? I'm sure part of it is that evoking the night before Christmas is a great way to make the need for shopping seem urgent. But I think it's more than that. I know I'm a bigger parody nerd than most, but my sense is that in general, carol parodies get the public's attention. We hear the altered beginning of a holiday favorite, and we pay attention. We know we're about to hear a story, even if it's a story about some dude who rushed into a store at the last minute and found the perfect item with which to deck the halls.

When we hear a parody, and even more so when we write one, we feel like we're engaging with the original material. We're making it our own. We're creating this year's version. If it's a song we love, we're digging into it more deeply. If it's one we think is silly, we're subverting it. Sometimes, we're doing both at once.

Merry earworms to all, and to all a good-night.

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