“Do They Know it’s Christmas?” Debunked

Okay, truth. I love most Christmas songs, but there are two that I absolutely, cannot stomach on any level: “Christmas Shoes” and “Do They Know it’s Christmas?”
Now, “Christmas Shoes”… I really can’t argue with the premise of the song.
There’s nothing offensive in it, I just can’t listen to it… or watch the movie (NOOOOOOOOOOO).
But “Do They Know it’s Christmas?” rubs me 100% the wrong way.
Against the fur, so to speak.
So, if you’ll indulge me, I’m going to engage in a full-on, no holds barred, double-barreled rant.
Abandon hope, all ye who enter…

It’s Christmas time
There’s no need to be afraid
I can let that ride… unless you have Yuletidaphobia.
At Christmas time
We let in light and we banish shade

And in our world of plenty
We can spread a smile of joy
Throw your arms around the world
At Christmas time
That’s fine…

But say a prayer
Pray for the other ones
At Christmas time, it’s hard
when you’re having fun
*lips pursed* Mmm.

There’s a world outside your window
And it’s a world of dreaded fear
Where the only water flowing
Is a bitter sting of tears
Here we go.

And the Christmas bells that ring there
Are the clanging chimes of doom
Well, tonight, thank God, it’s them
Instead of you.
… and here we cue up the needle scratch. Other people are suffering, and I’m going to drop to my knees and say, “Whew! I’m glad it’s happening to those people and not me!!”

What do we say when we see other people suffering, kids?
We say, “I’m sorry it’s happening to you. How can I help?”
I understand that’s probably what they’re getting at, but the shot went just a skoch wide, to my mind.

And there won’t be snow in Africa this Christmas time
Um… we’re not even going to talk about the ski resorts in the Drakensbergs… what does snow actually have to do with anything? They’re not going to have blizzards in Arizona, either… so what? What is so terrible about the fact that there’s no snow (in certain climes on the continent, there IS snow, but… whatever)?
The greatest gift they’ll get this year is life
It could be said that life is the greatest gift any of us get (being a Christian, Jesus trumps that point for me, but life finishes a strong second). I mean, I’d rather have life than those freakishly huge Polly Pockets (what’s that about, anyway?!).
Where nothing ever grows, no rain or rivers flow
Whoa, whoa, whoa.
There are plants in Africa. They don’t have amber waves of grain, but there are PLEN-TEE of plants indigenous to the various regions in Africa.
You know what else they have in Africa?
Lots of them, in fact.
Google it.
It also rains in Africa… in some places more than others, and not as much as we might see, but… it seems that you’re over simplifying in order to paint the bleakest picture possible.
Life is plenty bleak enough when you just state the facts, sir.
Tone it down.
Do they know it’s Christmas time at all?
I question your logic.
So, because they supposedly don’t have snow, plants, or rivers, they therefore wouldn’t celebrate Christmas? Because Christmas only exists where there is snow  and big leafy greens and supermarkets and sushi restaurants?
If people don’t know about Christmas, it could be because they don’t celebrate Christmas.
Sprinkling wet precip on them will not suddenly spark the realization that Christmas is a holiday, nor should that be the rationale behind your assistance.

Here’s to you
Raise your glass for everyone
Here’s to them
Underneath that burning sun
Do they know it’s Christmas time at all?
Again. That’s…
But you’re…
I… need… you can’t just…

Feed the world
Let them know it’s Christmas time again.
Here’s my beef: feeding people is something we should do because they are hungry… not because everyone has the inalienable right to eat an entire Yule log in one sitting during the month of December.
Do you see what I’m saying?
Feed people because food is kind-of a big deal for survival… not because it’s Christmas or a tax-deduction, or out of pity or your superiority complex….

This song was, I’m sure, written and performed with the absolute best of intentions, but other than the fact that it’s an ear worm of the worst sort, it strikes me as being incredibly patronizing, so it irritates the… er… ho ho ho out of me. It seems to perpetuate this shallow stereotype that the worst of anything and everything resides in any place that’s not America or the sexy parts of Europe… like there’s nothing beautiful or admirable or of value, and they don’t even have CHRISTMAS (can you STAND it?!?!)… so we’re going to send over a few sandwiches and a big ole Texas-sized Christmas tree.
Their situation is different from our situation… and different equals intolerable and pitiable.
I haven’t been to Africa, but I have friends who spent years in various countries, and they tell me that outside of National Geographic, you’ll never see the real beauty of that continent… because we don’t talk about that.
I mean, “nothing ever grows”?
Nerd say what?
Have you never heard of African violets? Rooibos tea? Aloe? Madagascar orchids?
YES, portions of Africa are arid, but if you’re not going to be specific, then neither am I.
Stuff grows in Africa.
They have rivers in Africa. No, you can’t drink straight from them, and for those living in desert areas, they do need drinkable water… but if you’re just going to say “no rain or rivers flow”, I’m going to call shenanigans.
Also, there are actual happy Africans. Believe it or not, there are people in Africa who don’t weep bitterly at night because they don’t have your cushy life… or your freshly cut Pine tree with tinsel and lights.
Every person in Africa is not depressed and downtrodden simply because they’re in Africa.

And now that we have established that there are rivers and plants and snow and even joy and happiness, we should still have a heart for helping those who need help, because we weren’t helping in the first place just because their home happens to look different from ours, were we?
We were helping because we want to help everyone who needs it, right?
Are we contributing toward clean water and shoes and education because we want to help the diverse peoples of Africa, because they are fellow humans with immeasurable worth and dignity, or are we just tossing “beads at the natives” because we don’t want to feel bad about our first world problems over Christmas (which raises the question of why you feel bad over the fact that you have a car… but that’s a rant for another day)? Are we equally as willing to give in March and July and October?

I’m sorry, but… that song just makes me mad.
I did tell you that I was going to rant.
Maybe next time, you’ll read the disclaimer and get out while you can.
That’ll learn ya.


7 thoughts on ““Do They Know it’s Christmas?” Debunked

  1. I agree with you. Words in song are sometimes just plain wrong. As for feeding the world I can not believe that we allow people to starve to death and somehow find it acceptable.


  2. Oh my goodness, that was the best rant I’ve ever read. I also extremely dislike that song, and that post was just…poetry. Thank you!


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