Completions and Connections

I'll always have a warm spot in my heart reserved for the Waitresses' Christmas Wrapping, the enduring tune that makes me smile every December (though it was inevitable that, this year, the Pogues' Fairytale of New York eclipsed Christmas Wrapping as my favorite holiday song.)

But I'm still impressed with what the Waitresses accomplished in their yuletide epic: they weave a complex tale of isolation and self-pity as a woman prepares her Christmas meal for one, interspersed with flashbacks to a yearlong, frustrated courtship. Yet the song is insanely upbeat, catchy, and singable -- remarkable qualities for any song, but more impressive when you consider it was one of the first mainstream proto-raps, written in 1981 (which makes the title a pun, always a plus in my book).

Christmas Wrapping also has the best sax part in any holiday song (except possibly Morphine's Sexy Christmas Baby Mine).

The finale involves a chance encounter that ties together multiple threads and leaves you optimistic for 1982 and beyond. The song takes on additional heft when you realize the singer, Patty Donahue, died of lung cancer just fifteen years later.

Perhaps because it's only played after Thanksgiving, the song never seems to get old. Or maybe it's beloved because it speaks to universal themes -- who among us hasn't endured a prolonged, punctuated courtship, only to have Christmas magic (or benevolent vacation scheduling) intervene?

Regardless, the lasting message of Christmas Wrapping is: this is no time to be alone. Here's hoping we can all be with friends and loved ones this season.