The Island of Misfit Songs

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My ears hear, but sometimes they don’t necessarily listen.

As it happens, I like my cup filled to overflowing with Christmas songs.  It's one month a year, and it's not like I'm able to listen to them all day long anyway.  It's great for drive time, though.  Peaceful, relaxing, familiar, tuneful ...from one holiday classic to another.

...until my teenage daughter, who has just been singing along, says “that isn't a very nice song.”  Excuse me?

It’s a Christmas song!  How could a Christmas song not be a nice song?

“Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer,” a song that needs no introduction, is simply iconicRudolph amongst Christmas songs.  I’ve seen the stop-motion animation TV “Special” many times, and, reliably, I've found comfort in knowing that good little boys and girls the world over can go to bed confident that should the North Pole have a severe weather condition, Rudolph is there to help deliver the goods.  That’s just great stuff.  Get thee behind Rudolph, Frosty, you might drip on the presents.   

It’s an underdog story, and we all love underdog stories!  It's as American as apple pie!  We feel for the cross-eyed little dude, his slight build a disadvantage against those brutish jock reindeer kids (actually, calves).  Throw in a speech impediment and a poor father figure and, yeah, we're pulling for him.  Even the Giver of All Good Things (not Him, rather the one in the red suit) didn’t give him support.  But we know a champ when we see one, and banding together with his misfit friends, Rudy will show ‘em, right?  And he did.  And he went down in history and Amen to that.

Stupid teenagers.  What do they know?

My daughter apparently pulled some strings, and within a week I found that the ripples from the small stone she cast had reached my far shore.  As amusements go, the "Word Power" section of Reader's Digest is as beneficial as they come.  Go me.

In the December issue, I present Word #2:

Plaintive (‘plane-tiv) adj. – A: simple.  B: sad. C. loud.  (editorial comment:  Are readers happier with three choices instead of four so that they can score better when they guess?). 

I’d say… B.  Not because I looked.  That's next.

*flips page*

2. plaintive – [B] sad.  I can’t be the only one who finds “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” plaintive.

Hey now!  Is there a freakin’ conspiracy to undermine our time honored traditions?

It didn’t come upon a midnight clear, but fortunately I had my daughter to explain the problem.  To the text we go: 

“Rudolf with your nose so bright, won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?  Then how the reindeer loved him, as they shouted out with glee…”

They certainly say they loved Rudolph, but they didn’t like him because of who he was... they only liked him because he could guide Santa's sleigh on one fitful night.

What are we teaching our kids about the nature of love?  That’s a very plaintive lesson for people who don’t listen carefully beyond the words to the moral in the story.  Good catch, kiddo.

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