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Mama’s Tawdry Affair

As we were driving home from my parent’s house on Christmas (which was also known as Saturday, in our world), we were sucking in the last of the Christmas music from 97.1, by which I mean that I was sucking in the last of the Christmas music and everyone else was enduring. (I earned this right by promising to do things that a lady doesn’t discuss on a blog.)

And I remarked to Josh as John Cougar Mellancamp (sans either the Cougar or the Mellancamp — I can never remember which he dropped) crooned about Mommy kissing Santa Claus that I thought the song was a horror show.  What sort of song celebrated a woman cheating on her husband?  What was so titillating about it being Santa Claus?  Why was it okay for Mommy to have an affair with a man who delivers toys, but not okay for her to be having an affair with the soccer coach?  Would the little boy in the song be just as gleeful if he caught Mommy making out with his principal?

And Josh looked at me as if I were insane and said, “his dad was Santa Claus.  Mel, he was dressed up as Santa Claus, and he thought it was the real Santa Claus.  Hence why his dad couldn’t walk in — because his dad WAS Santa Claus.”

Which just didn’t ring true for me because (1) there is nothing in the song about dad going out of the house — in fact, it is assumed that Dad is upstairs in his bed, blissfully unaware that his wife is cheating on him downstairs and (2) who dresses up AFTER their child goes to sleep to put the toys under the tree?  You dress up in the morning when the kids are awake or in the early evening on Christmas Eve when — again — the kids are awake.  But who the hell dresses up when the kids are asleep.

“Well, it was probably for a sex game,” Josh added.  “Like he got the costume to surprise the kids, but then he put it on at night for a role playing game where he would treat Mum as if she were a bad little elf.”

Which is really no better that a little boy is watching the beginning moments of his parent’s sex game.  Seriously: a horror show.

So, which one of us is right: are we celebrating the fact that mum is having an affair, or is it dad in a Santa costume?

And on that note, Happy Boxing Day!


1 N { 12.26.10 at 8:08 am }

Dad in a costume.

Except for in the version I love so much – I saw Daddy kissing Santa Claus. XD

2 Manymanymoons { 12.26.10 at 8:19 am }

You are too much! I can’t resist an explanation that includes a sex game, so I think we’re dealing with a dad in a Santa costume. I like how your mind works. 🙂

3 gingerandlime { 12.26.10 at 8:26 am }

I will never listen to that song the same way again. I always figured the kid knew it was his dad and was slyly pretending to think it was the real Santa just like older kids who don’t really believe anymore will still pretend to because they know where their bread is buttered, so to speak.

I always read it as being cynical on the kid’s part, but I definitely like your husband’s reading better!

4 LJ { 12.26.10 at 8:58 am }

Good lord woman. So many items to say with your post:
1. There’s shit you won’t talk about on your blog? (Aside from specifics on Chickie and Wolvog?)
2. My dad’s friend is a DJ in NYC and he calls him “John Cougar and the Singing Mellencamps”, but he is currently John Mellencamp.
3. She most certainly was smooching on Santa Dad, who was dressed up in case your (we’re going with you not being a MOT here) snooping ass was sneaking a peek.

5 HereWeGoAJen { 12.26.10 at 9:11 am }

Absolutely the Dad dressed up as Santa. Now, why he is dressed up when the kids are asleep, I have no idea. I always thought it was just because he was too lazy to get changed from pretending to be Santa earlier.

6 BigP's Heather { 12.26.10 at 9:41 am }

Daddy dressed up. In case the kids hear something and go and look they see Santa instead of their parents. That way the magic isn’t ruined. Apparently, in this case the magic isn’t ruined for Momma either. LOL

7 Esperanza { 12.26.10 at 9:46 am }

I always thought he was dressed up in case the kids came out so they would see Santa putting presents under the tree and not their dad. I know some families that do that because their kids always peek.

8 Sarah { 12.26.10 at 9:59 am }

Definitely Dad dressed up as Santa. Either from playing Santa earlier in the night, or just in case the kids peek and see them putting presents out. It sounds like Junior was just put to bed, and snuck out again…
I always thought it was clearly Dad b/c the lyrics say something like “underneath his white beard”, which made me think he was holding up his fake beard to smooch the wife.

9 jc { 12.26.10 at 9:59 am }

Dad dressed up as Santa. My friend’s Dad used to dress up as Santa at night and put their presents out after they went to bed. I remember my friend waking up and seeing Santa and flipping out. I think they do it in case that happens so they don’t catch their parents doing it.

10 Megan { 12.26.10 at 10:01 am }

I always assumed it was dad in a costume and that he was in the costume just in case the kids tried to peek in on him putting presents under the tree.

11 Megan { 12.26.10 at 10:01 am }

Oy. Should’ve read all the comments first. What Esperanza said.

12 Rebecca { 12.26.10 at 10:25 am }

While your interpretation makes me giggle, I agree that it is daddy as Santa in case the kids come downstairs. Which, obviously, they did or we wouldn’t have the song. So, it’s a good thing he dressed up! Of course, the kid doesn’t know this and now he’s scarred for life. That’s the part that always bothered me! 🙂

13 Mel { 12.26.10 at 10:28 am }

The part that is amusing me the most is that Josh’s (and your) interpretation is something I had NEVER considered. I have heard this song for years and always assumed that mum was having an affair.

And it makes me wonder: what other Christmas songs do I have so incredibly wrong?

This reminds me of a time when I had to explain Frank Zappa songs to some friends from Germany who had a completely wrong understanding of what a “golden shower” was.

14 a { 12.26.10 at 10:44 am }

And I thought this was going to be about your tawdry affair with Christmas music…which it is, I suppose. 🙂 Just so you know, the magic of YouTube means that you can continue to enjoy Christmas music any time you like. My daughter wants Last Christmas by Wham and All I Want For Christmas Is You by Mariah Carey on repeat.

Re: John Cougar Mellencamp: What everyone else said…

15 C { 12.26.10 at 10:48 am }

I just find it hysterical you guys were doing such an in-depth analysis of this song.

16 Tara { 12.26.10 at 11:39 am }

What a great Christmas Debate…I vote Daddy in a Santa suit…

17 Jen { 12.26.10 at 11:49 am }

Definitely dad in a Santa suit, lol!!!

18 Margaret { 12.26.10 at 12:01 pm }

The song was written in 1952 and was commissioned by Neimann Marcus, so it’s pretty much a given that we’re talking about dad. If you consider the fact that the kid still believes in Santa Claus then I wouldn’t consider his assurance that his father is still asleep as accurate.

19 Quiet Dreams { 12.26.10 at 12:55 pm }

You crack me up. Definitely Dad in a costume.

20 Amy { 12.26.10 at 1:41 pm }

I always interpreted that as “Dad in a Santa costume.” I still think that, but your thoughts on the costume timing (who dresses up after the kids are in bed?) are certainly worthy of consideration.

21 heartincharge { 12.26.10 at 2:14 pm }

I agree with the Dad votes but this is a very cute post!

22 Erica { 12.26.10 at 2:26 pm }

The “what a laugh it would have been/ if Daddy had walked in” is a nod to knowing grown-ups that Daddy is already there. I have to wonder what a kiss means from a child’s perspective, too. I think it’s a pretty innocent thing with a hint of deeper meaning. I do wish now, though, that there was a song about “I saw Mommy making out with Santa on the floor under the tree and oh no why is Santa wearing Daddy’s underpants?!”

23 Battynurse { 12.26.10 at 2:46 pm }

I’ve actually heard two songs along those lines. One is Mommy Kissing Santa Clause and the other is Santa Looks A Lot Like Daddy and I think in both of them Mommy is kissing Santa. I think they are cute and funny but I’ve also considered the whole step back thing and what would a child truly think if he or she saw Mommy kissing Santa even if he did look a lot like daddy.

24 Kathleen (amoment2think) { 12.26.10 at 3:13 pm }

I have always thought it was Dad dressed up as Santa… but it is an ODD song when you really listen to it.

25 loribeth { 12.26.10 at 3:36 pm }

I always figured it was Dad, but I have puzzled over the kid singing, “What a laugh it would have been if Daddy had only seen…” Why does he think it would have been funny for Dad to see this? Or is that just childish innocence talking? ; )

26 Vee { 12.26.10 at 4:57 pm }

I have always thought it was his Dad in a Santa suit. But you make some good points.

27 Blanche { 12.26.10 at 5:19 pm }

loribeth @#24 took the words out of my mouth (fingers?).

28 Bea { 12.26.10 at 8:51 pm }

I have always had concerns about this song. I distinctly remember going over it with a primary school teacher. It’s supposed to be Dad dressed as Santa (I was assured by the primary school teacher in question) but that doesn’t really explain why he dressed up. I mean yes, caution, in case the kids woke (as the primary school teacher went on to patiently point out, in a slightly exasperated tone) – that seemed to be taking the whole thing a bit too seriously, though. Who were these parents who went to that kind of trouble? Mine certainly wouldn’t have. I was forced to leave it at that at the time, except for my ongoing bewilderment over why Dad would have thought it funny to see Mum carrying on with another man, even Santa, which was basically dismissed. Because Dad, being Santa and/or knowing that Santa didn’t really exist was in on the joke, said the teacher (that doesn’t make sense… because the child is the narrator and the child doesn’t know it’s Dad or that Santa doesn’t exist…)

Anyway. Later, in conversations with family members, we decided that Dad had probably been out playing Santa for some sort of charitable cause – bringing presents to children in hospital on behalf of the real Santa, who finds it hard to track children down sometimes after his list has been finalised, say if they broke their arm late on Christmas Eve, hence the late night costume. For some reason, sex games weren’t a part of the explanation, although as an adult I must say that is more plausible.

And as for Dad’s hypothetical response… wait… I can’t remember this accurately. But apparently it would have been funny because of some kind of hilarious mix-up where Mum thought she was kissing Dad dressed as Santa and then if Dad walked in she would know that it was really the real Santa or at least someone else dressed as Santa and laughs all around, except for Mum who would have been mortified, but eventually would have seen the funny side. I think that might have been a separate conversation, the two explanations don’t seem to form a coherent whole.

In the end it is a horror show, but people never really seemed to understand my concern with it. I am so glad you exist sometimes.


29 Felicity { 12.26.10 at 9:00 pm }

I hate to be the one to break it to you, but Santa Claus is not real. Therefore the Santa in the song is just like every other Santa on Christmas: dad dressed in a Santa suit. And even if it was some other dude dressed as Santa, the kiss was under the mistletoe so it’s not a tawdry love affair.

30 Kerrik { 12.26.10 at 10:20 pm }

I never in a million years would have though this song had anything to do with an affair. 🙂
Sorry Mel, but I’m pretty sure Santa Claus is just daddy dressed up, and the song is meant to be from the kid’s perspective, so they think it really is Santa.

31 Kaitake { 12.27.10 at 1:19 am }

Bahahahaha!! This is by far the funniest Christmas post I’ve read this year! Go Santa! 🙂

32 S.I.F. { 12.27.10 at 2:05 am }

Oh Mel! You have me cracking up!! I have never thought of the song in this light, but when put like that you’re right – it is a horror show!

I still think it was dad in a costume though. And now I can’t stop wondering what kind of people use Santa in their sex games!

33 Guera! { 12.27.10 at 12:23 pm }

There are a lot of things that I have a problem with that most people I know do not. I think it makes me weird and if I ever have kids I will be THAT mom. I don’t intend, for example, to let my future daughter sit on some strange man’s lap and tell him what she wants for Christmas. No fucking way that’s happening. Having said that, this song is not something I have an issue with and find it hysterical that it never crossed your mind until Josh told you that the Santa was actually the dad dressed up. No matter what you write or what your opinion is I can always count on a fresh, and refreshing perspective from you!

34 flyingmonkeys { 12.28.10 at 3:15 pm }

I always thought Dad was in the suit.

35 Jill { 12.28.10 at 5:51 pm }

I’ve always known that it was Daddy dressed up as Santa Claus but even still I’ve always been deeply troubled by the song. I mean we all as listeners know that Daddy is Santa Claus but if the child doesn’t then why on earth are we putting a permanently damaging event in this child’s life to jazzy music? Just saying…

36 coffeegrl { 12.30.10 at 3:51 pm }

How funny. I always assumed it was dad in a costume for all the various reasons others have listed, but now I’m with loribeth – wondering why it would be funny to the kid????

37 Eggs In A Row { 12.27.11 at 7:08 pm }

Ok, so I’m reading your archives and I just saw this. IT NEVER OCCURRED TO ME! LOL. Santa Claus was the dad…huh…so funny.

(c) 2006 Melissa S. Ford
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