Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

“Christmas Wrapping” charms even the surliest of holiday hearts

In Hear This, The A.V. Club writers sing the praises of songs they know well. This week: We’re kicking off the season with holiday songs we’re not sick of yet.

The Waitresses, “Christmas Wrapping” (1981)

Just after Thanksgiving this year, I was home in Cleveland, a little drunk at a bar, and had a few dollars in my wallet. And because that bar had a jukebox, I decided to impose my musical will on everyone in said bar. And because it was after Thanksgiving, I figured I could play whatever Christmas songs I wanted on that jukebox, because that’s when Christmas season officially begins. Thus, I threw in a few bucks, mined the machine’s internet database for a few songs, and then walked away.


Fast forward about a half an hour. My first song, Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You,” starts to play. I feel great. What a good song! Everyone loves it! Well, as it turns out, that’s not the case. About 30 seconds in, whoever had the jukebox remote nixed the thing and skipped to the next song, darkening the holiday spirit of not only me, but of the hundred or so other people in the bar. Bah Humbug.

Interestingly enough, though, my next Christmas song played in full. That track, The Waitresses’ “Christmas Wrapping,” is just as holiday friendly, but apparently isn’t quite as offensive to Northeast Ohio bartenders, and rightfully so. I’ll defend “All I Want For Christmas Is You” at length to anyone, but “Christmas Wrapping” is where my true holiday music heart lies. A little ditty from a great but criminally underappreciated new wave group, “Christmas Wrapping” combines the traditional holiday story song with synth vibes that work all year round. It’s endlessly quotable (“You mean you forgot the cranberries too?”), charmingly danceable, and has been covered by both the Spice Girls and Kylie Minogue and Iggy Pop. I could listen to it every single day of the year—holiday season be damned—and I’d probably never get tired of it. But because I don’t, once Thanksgiving passes, “Christmas Wrapping” becomes all the sweeter. I think even surly Rust Belt bartenders would agree with that.

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