Did you happen to see where a BU professor named Kyna Hamill got her 15 minutes of fame by informing us that “Jingle Bells,” one of the jolliest songs of the Christmas season, was inspired by northern racism?
Its intent, Hamill maintains, was to mock the black community’s enjoyment of winter, poking fun at the notion of laughing and singing while dashing across snow-covered fields aboard an open sleigh.
Actually, that sounds uproariously enjoyable, suggesting a word of thanks from all of us might be in order to whoever came up with the idea.
Bigotry? Racism? Please. You have to look pretty hard at “Jingle Bells” to find any of that in its jolly content. Truth be told, the professor brings to mind those stodgy old Puritans of whom it was said their only joy in life was condemning other people’s joy in life.
But to give Hamill her due, it’s commonly understood that if we thumb through the pages of history long enough we’ll find plenty of reasons to be offended. That’s no bulletin.
For starters, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson both owned slaves. What should we do about that in 2017?
Perhaps we should acknowledge that times change, and people do, too.
But if Hamill’s determined to add a sour note to the music of Christmas, here’s something she might ponder: Suppose it hadn’t been foggy the night Santa recruited Rudolph “with your nose so bright” to “guide my sleigh tonight?”
Think about it, especially with today’s great focus on kids who are bullied and isolated.
Rudolph was just like them.
The next time you hear children singing about him, listen a little closer:
“All of the other reindeer used to laugh and call him names;
“They wouldn’t let poor Rudolph join in any reindeer games.”
It’s hard to believe Prancer, Comet and Blitzen could have been so cruel. Dasher, Donner, Vixen? Were they that rotten? Was Cupid a brat? Was Dancer just plain mean?
We read about kids just like them all the time.
Thank goodness visibility was terrible that night. If the weather had been better, Rudolph’s torment would have continued.
By the time the song ends, “all the reindeer loved him as they shouted out with glee, ‘Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer, you’ll go down in history!’ ”
Well, that’s wonderful. But suppose it had been a clear, moonlit night? What would that Christmas have been like for poor Rudolph then? He’d have probably ended up in therapy.
C’mon, Professor Hamill, lighten up!
No offense, but here’s wishing you a Merry Christmas.
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