Friday, December 13, 2013

Unnecessary Analysis: Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer

I'm debuting a new feature that will run randomly whenever I get around to it. As the title suggests, I'll be unnecessarily (over)analyzing something relatively harmless for the fun of it. 

"Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer" is one of the most polarizing holiday songs ever written. You either love it (my kid, for example), or you hate it (me, for example.) Regardless of how you feel about it, you can't escape it this time of year. It's a part of your life whether you want it to be or not. Originally released in 1979, the song slowly grew in popularity, first among country stations and then into Top-40 stations until it became the seasonal song you've grown to know and love, hate, or tolerate. Let's dive in.

Grandma got run over by a reindeer
Walking home from our house Christmas eve.
You can say there's no such thing as Santa,
But as for me and Grandpa, we believe.

First things first, we start out a beloved holiday song with the apparent hit and run of grandma. I guess they couldn't make "Grandma was the victim of vehicular homicide" work with the music to go with that title. We're presented no reason to suggest Santa doesn't exist, but the singer proposes there may be some who do not believe in his is existence.

She'd been drinking too much egg nog,
And we'd begged her not to go.
But she forgot her medication,
And she staggered out the door into the snow.

This loving family allowed their (presumably) elderly grandmother to stumble drunk out the door to what I can only assume is a nearby home to get her medication. That the family begged her not to go shows they clearly care about her, but the fact no one bothered to actually walk with her to her home in her inebriated state makes me wonder about them.

When they found her Christmas morning,
At the scene of the attack.
She had hoof prints on her forehead,
And incriminating Claus marks on her back.

WHAT?!? They found her Christmas morning? No one bothered to say "hey, where's Grandma?" at some point during the party. They let an elderly drunk woman walk out in the snow to get some important medication and no one there bothered to check on her. This seems irresponsible at best and negligent at worst. And then we find out there are hoof prints on her forehead, which makes sense) and incriminating Claus marks on her back.

Walk through this with me. If the hoof marks are on her forehead, she must have been hit from the front. A force strong enough to leave hoof marks would have to knock her on to her back. Yet we're told there are Claus marks on her back. So either Santa attacked her before the reindeer attack or he doubled back to inflict even more pain on this unconscious (maybe dead?) woman. A third theory that remains unexplored in the song is that of an elaborate conspiracy to frame Santa for someone else's crime.

Grandma got run over by a reindeer,
Walking home from our house Christmas eve.
You can say there's no such thing as Santa,
But as for me and Grandpa, we believe.

Now we're all so proud of Grandpa,
He's been taking this so well.
See him in there watching football,
Drinking beer and playing cards with cousin Mel.

So wait, the day after his (I assume) loving wife is killed under mysterious circumstances, Grandpa is watching football as though nothing happened? He just moved on, just like that. No sharing of stories or funeral arrangements? Nothing. A life just ended here people. I know we all grieve in different ways, but drinking beer, watching football and playing cards seems, well, it seems like what I want to do this weekend, not what I want to do the day after my wife is murdered.

It's not Christmas without Grandma.
All the family's dressed in black.
And we just can't help but wonder:
Should we open up her gifts or send them back? (send them back!)

Finally, the song starts to take a turn towards normalcy. There's sorrow that Grandma isn't there, everyone's in black and it appears that except for Grandpa and cousin Mel, there might be some semblance of a family in mourning. But no, it just couldn't last. In their time of grief and loss, their primary concern is of the material possessions they wanted to give to Grandma and what should should happen to them.

Now the goose is on the table
And the pudding made of fig.
And the blue and silver candles,
That would just have matched the hair in Grandma's wig.

This is the first we hear of Grandma's hair issues. While not a major plot point in the song, it seems odd to throw it in this late for no reason other than it rhymes with fig. And it's also nice to see the family sitting down together to share a meal during this tragic time.

I've warned all my friends and neighbors.
"Better watch out for yourselves."
They should never give a license,
To a man who drives a sleigh and plays with elves.

Again, as the song nears its end, we see someone finally starting to take responsibility. If there's a crazed madman driving around with no regard for human life, someone should at least warn people. Granted, it doesn't appear they bothered to notify law enforcement to investigate and try to catch the person who killed their beloved grandmother, but at least the warning is getting out. I presume it was "don't let your drunk grandmother walk home alone at night," (which is really good advice for all of us to give our grandmothers.)

But then we get in to some ad hominem attacks on Santa. Simply because a man drives a sleigh ad plays with plays with elves is no reason to deny a man a license to drive. So long as he passes the driving test, what he drives or who he spends his time with should have no impact on whether or not he gets a license. This kind of attack on Santa's character destroys what little credibility these accusers have in this matter.

Grandma got run over by a reindeer,
Walking home from our house Christmas eve.
You can say there's no such thing as Santa,
But as for me and Grandpa, we believe

One last time they try to convince us of their conspiracy. They joy with which they sing reminds me of the Seinfeld episode where (do I have to do a spoiler alert for a show that ended in 1998? If so SPOILER ALERT) they're discussing George's fiance' dying from licking toxic envelopes. The doctor who described his reaction as "restrained jubilation." The same can be said of the singers of this song.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Pure gold. I thought that you were going to point to Grandpa as the real culprit, given the way the evidence looked staged, and his 'restrained jubilation.'