As a kid, one of my all time favorite Christmas carols was, of course, Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer (that and a little diddy about Batman smelling). I think few songs really manage to combine the festive holiday spirit with bloody murder quite like this one. And that’s right, I said murder because Grandma did not die from sleighicular manslaughter, this was a premeditated murder.
GGRObaR (as the kids say) is an interesting take on perspective. The joke of the song works because it juxtaposes Santa committing a hit and run with the reality of Grandpa who just got away with the perfect murder. Blaming Santa Claus is like saying a one armed man murdered your wife (side note: The Fugitive theoretically has given any person with one arm free reign to murder whoever they want because what cop is going to believe a one armed man did it?). Fictional characters don’t usually commit a lot of murders, I don’t have the actual crime statistics on hand but I have to believe the number is 0% of murders this year were caused by fictional characters.
What I’m trying to get at though is that there are two realities in Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer: that of a child who believes in Santa, and that of the more cynical adult who does not. Take the song I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus for example. As adults we know that Mom is just kissing Dad who is dressed as Santa Claus, but as children we’re forced to assume Mommy is a bit of tart (regardless of the sexual assaulting powers of mistletoe). To a kid this is a song about your mother cheating on your father. Grandma Got Run Over has the same play, and both versions are sort of horrible The children version is about Santa performing a heinous act. That’s pretty dark when you think about it. As an adult though we both know that grandpa committed the murder and that most of the family is pretty okay with it (which make me wonder what was so bad about Grandma?).
Let’s look at the song:
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.
Why is Grandpa so eager to believe that Santa did it? I think it’s natural given the “evidence” for a kid to think Santa was involved, but why would Grandpa encourage it? He should know better. As a rational person, I might think a regular deer caused it or a drunk driver or something without supernatural powers. That fact that Grandpa is trying so desperately to pawn this off on Santa makes me wonder what he’s really trying to hide.
She'd been drinking too much eggnog,
And we'd begged her not to go.
But she forgot her medication,
And she staggered out the door into the snow.
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.
If Grandpa was so concerned over her safety, why would he let a woman (presumably in her 60’s) walk out in the snow alone? He should know how much “nog” she can handle. And why did Grandpa wait until the morning to report Grandma as missing? And while somewhat Santa-leading, the hoof print could have been caused by almost any blunt instrument. And if it is an actual hoof print, that doesn’t necessarily point to the hoof of a magical reindeer. Also, what is a Claus mark? Some sort of fat mark, did it look like she was sat on? Or was it white beard hairs? Cookie crumbs? And if so, then how fat is grandpa and how white is his beard? It seems like cookie crumbs could be easily planted. If we were living in a world with a Santa Claus, a mystical being that has never been seen… I think he would cover his tracks better than that.
Or did the police report say "claw marks" on her back, and a series of wild animals trampled Grandma?
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.
Seems like pretty blasé behavior for someone grieving over his dead wife. In the context of the song this is within hours of discovering her body. The police haven’t even finished filing out all the paper work yet. And who is this cousin Mel? Hot cousin Melanie? Shifty cousin Melvin with his get rich quick schemes?
I’ll admit that the evidence against Grandpa is circumstantial at best. I don’t think it would hold up in any court of law, but it is more evidence than the evidence against a person who doesn’t exist.
Lastly there’s this:
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.
Santa shouldn’t be judged by his company, no matter how tiny or pointy eared they may be. That has nothing to do with the accident. Also, Grandma was the one drunk on eggnog. I’m not saying Santa is real, but if he were real, this would be Grandma’s fault.
The lesson of the song is either Santa Claus accidentally killed your grandmother while delivering presents to you. Or your grandfather used the cover of a snowstorm and your belief in a magical being to pull off the perfect crime. It's your fault. Merry Christmas!
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