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Politics, culture, and American life — from the family perspective.

War Is Over, If You Want It to Be -- Really?



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I’m in a hotel room in Des Moines, working on a writing project while The Sing Off’s Christmas special drones on in my room. Though I’ve watched the show pretty religiously with my kids, it’s background noise tonight. I’m collecting information, organizing it into a longer book format, researching, ordering room service, trying to pretend I don’t know where the workout room is.

The show seemed happy enough, though I didn’t hear one Christmas song that wasn’t Santa-centric. (Perhaps I missed some? I heard the Beach Boys’ “Little St. Nick,” ”Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” Justin Bieber’s “Under the Mistletoe,” “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” and even “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch.” If I missed one, let me know. Again, it’s basically background noise tonight.) I enjoyed listening to host Nick Lachey and judges Sara Bareilles and Ben Folds performing on stage. (Okay, wasn’t so enthused about Nick. Have you noticed the weird shoulder shrug thing he does while announcing performers? My daughter pointed this out, and now I can’t pay attention to anything else he says. It’s like his body physically emphasizes punctuation marks.)

Anyway, I was listening to a torturous rendition of “Happy Christmas (War Is Over)” — a 1971 song written by John Lennon and Yoko Ono – and realized that they were singing this in honor of the soldiers who were coming home for the holidays.  

Does this seem tone deaf to you? As the wife of a soldier, I appreciate that the show is honoring our soldiers in a time of war. I mean, I wish all of the shows would take a moment to think about the soldiers who won’t be spending the holidays at home. But seriously? Doesn’t the song choice seem strange to you? Does a liberal, hippie, Vietnam-era song provide comfort to anyone, except in some sort of nostalgic Forrest Gump soundtrack kind of way? Isn’t it only nice if it’s divorced from historic context?

If I’m right that the show’s producers made a decision to eliminate all religiously themed songs, then perhaps it makes sense. After all, there are meaningful Christmas songs that deal with war. For example, two stanzas of ”I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” refer to the Civil War and the other five emphasize God’s sovereignty and the ultimate triumph over evil. However, if you reduce Christmas to some sort of feel-good season without any religious significance, then what comfort can you offer the military?

He might be okay at delivering presents, but Santa’s just not that great at delivering hope or comfort to the homesick.



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