How exactly does Santa know I’m sleeping?

And why did only ‘certain shepherds’ hear the angels’ tidings?

How exactly does Santa know I’m sleeping?

Getty Images; iStock; Photo Illustration by Taylor Shute

To aid in your enjoyment of the holidays, please consult this list of answers to Frequently Asked Questions about the songs of the season.

Q: According to God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen, a blessed angel delivered “tidings” of the birth of Jesus—but only “unto certain shepherds.” Why?

A: Fortunately, theologians recently unearthed a transcript from the nightly shift briefing of angels on the evening in question: “Big night, folks. Big night. Coffey, Bates, Renko: you’re on choir duty. Let’s keep it peppy: Big sound. Blinding lights. Killer harp solo. Belker: you alert the shepherds. Bring tidings and so forth. But listen: only to certain shepherds, okay? We’re introducing a messiah, not holding a rave. And not Gary the shepherd—that guy’s a tool.”

Q: O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree: How are thy leaves so verdant?

A: Photosynthesis.

Q: I am the woman in the song Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Did I make the right decision that night?

A: Here are the facts:

The weather that evening was frightful. Not just bad. Not just terrible. FRIGHTFUL. Did it show signs of stopping? No, it did not. THERE WERE ZERO SIGNS OF IT STOPPING.

Your gentleman caller expressed reluctance to venture into this once-in-a-century hellstorm. In fact, he went so far as to declare that he’d “hate” going into such treacherous conditions. That he made this declaration in the context of a tuneful couplet does not diminish its sincerity.

The fellow was enjoying himself at your place. You seemed to be enjoying yourself. You both lingered over your goodbyes. Then, boom, you shoved him out into the snowpocalypse.

And so to answer your question: he froze to death waiting for the bus.

Q: What child is that in What Child is This?

A: It’s [spoiler alert] Jesus. Or—as he’s known by public officials too fearful to actually refer to Christmas—Holiday Baby.

Q: I’ve lost my will to live. Also, I am stabbing at my own ears with a penknife. What’s happening to me?

A: You appear to be suffering from the common seasonal malady known as “Listening to Paul McCartney’s Wonderful Christmastime.” December brings a pandemic of this excruciating condition, which flares up while walking around the mall or scanning the radio dial. Once lodged in the brain, the horrible lyrics and cheesy synthesizer riff can linger for days, causing severe crankiness and the thought that maybe Lennon wrote more Beatles songs than we’ve been led to believe. There is no known cure for Wonderful Christmastimosis. However, in a landmark ruling on the song, the tribunal at The Hague recently conferred on anyone encountering the former Beatle the legal right to punch him one (1) time in the nuts—along with two (2) shin kicks for Ebony and Ivory.

Q: How exactly does Santa know if I’m sleeping?

A: Santa Claus Is Coming to Town has long been the Every Breath You Take of Christmas songs—a seemingly upbeat number with a sinister undertone. Santa watches you in bed. Santa knows if you’re naughty. You half expect the song to continue:

He knows your gmail login

He rifles through your trash!

He’s stolen your identity

And withdrawn all of your cash!

Yet this tune remains beloved for a good reason: because it empowers parents to threaten their misbehaving children, backed by the full weight of Santa’s fickle temperament. Speaking as a father, that truly is the greatest gift of all. Listen, son, I’m fine with you using those permanent markers to doodle on the wall—but if Santa finds out he will come at you in your bed and he will cut you. I SWEAR SANTA WILL CUT YOU.

That’s not the only lesson kids learn from holiday songs. Rudolph teaches that it’s okay to be different—so long as your physical imperfection ultimately saves the bacon of those who bullied you. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus captures the pure Christmas joy of a young, innocent child concluding that his mother is easy.

And Baby It’s Cold Outside teaches that it’s cool to ply women with alcohol and badger them into making out—so long as you do so in the form of a jaunty seasonal duet. Hey, it’s not harassment if she makes her protestations easy to rhyme.

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