My kid loves shoes. She sees a catalog with shoes and gasps with delight.
We really do not go out much. When I was a kid, we were at the mall often. I was desensitized to the power of a storefront window.
But when my child and I walked in an historic downtown area, her eyes fell upon a shoe store. She walked over cautiously, like a mix between a ballerina and a tiger ready to pounce. She stood on her tippy-toes looking at all of the shoes, much like other people salivate over pastries. She was beside herself with awe.
Know what would make me immensely happy? Despite my dear one’s love for shoes, if somebody out there — anybody — would obliterate every single copy in every possible format of “The Christmas Shoes” that exists in the Whole. Wide. Universe.
If you are so fortunate as to have missed this song, take a kindly word of warning. Do not look it up. Do not tune into your local station or Spotify or Google Music in hopes of catching just a little of it. It is worse than an earworm eating at your brain like “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.” (That song seriously tore up said aforementioned 4-year old, who loves no one better than Jesus and her grandma. Thank you, Pandora.)
After the third time through the song, I quit crying whenever I heard about those Christmas shoes. Then, I started throwing up a little. Now, I have to fight my gag reflex like my niece who cannot stand the smell of bananas. (And I’m fully aware that’s a little intense, too.)
So summarizes my humble view on the horrors of this particular song.
One time, in a small church, on a sweet Sunday leading up to Christmas, a dear woman stood to sing a “special.” For you large-church or non-church folks, a “special” is a piece that one or two singers have worked up with the church musician or canned music backup. It’s usually a gift given to God and to the people gathered.
As I heard the first few bars, I thought I might have to run screaming. Instead, self-sacrificially, I stayed to support my sister in faith. I pinched the soft inside part of my hand. When that failed, I went on to pull the hairs on my forearms like my mother told me to do when I was trying to stay awake for my super-sleep-inducing sixth grade English teacher. I decided sleep was preferable. I bit the inside of my jaw. I hung my head and prayed, nodding and rocking as if in the spirit, but really trying not to heave.
So, if you are so #blessed as to come across this song, do something — anything — to get away from it. Complain of a headache, earache, road sickness. Mercy, just open the door of the car and throw yourself out in a tuck-and-roll. Maybe it will be over by the time the driver pulls off the road to check on you.
No, don’t do that. Just be honest.
This time of year can be sad enough, heavy enough, heart-breaking enough. You and I — or anyone — needs further emotional manipulation. The Longest Night approaches on Dec. 21. Some people will be coping with their inner and outer darkness by shopping, eating or imbibing themselves into a humming little oblivion in order to escape their pain. You could go to a therapist, ask a friend to go on a walk, read a book, turn on your favorite music loudly, watch a funny movie or attend a Blue Christmas gathering if you are dealing with a range of losses this time of year.
Check out Charles Dicken’s “A Christmas Carol” instead. It is far more worthy and transformative a story. Its artistry stands the test of generations, formats and adaptations. Never again should we hear about shoes or shoeboxes at this time of year … unless they are for the little baby Jesus, or the local school drive for students, or for children separated from their parents along our border.