Town Talk: For Goodness Sake
Lara C. Andreykovich LCA11@pitt.edu
The Christmas season is my favorite time of year for several reasons, and listening to the beautiful carols and sometimes hilarious Christmas tunes ranks high on the list. Each Christmas, without fail, a couple of catchy tunes get stuck in my head so much that I spend ample minutes a day singing them. Alternatively if I forget the lyrics, I will hum. I sing or hum or sing and hum while decking the halls, driving, taking a shower, cleaning the house, stoking the fire, grocery shopping, online shopping, and watching the Christmas specials on whichever channel offers them. This list is non-exhaustive.
During the Christmas 2022 season, the two songs which have pervaded my daily activities are All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth by Donald Gardner and Santa Claus Is Coming to Town by Haven Gillespie. Considering the current expose, I shall refer to these tunes as “hum bugs”, simply because I hum them, and simply because they annoy mostly everyone around me when I do. But why have these two songs remained at the forefront of my mind this Christmas season? I pondered that there must be something to it. And for the sake of this week’s Progress News readers, I sought out how to meaningfully assimilate them into this week’s Town Talk. Here goes.
All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth takes me back to my childhood when I lost my two front teeth while running through Northway Mall, as the Andreykovich holiday pictures prove. At that time, to complete the thought all I want for Christmas was simple. Indeed, I really did want my front teeth back. Looking back on this event inspired me to revisit other wished for objects throughout my youth and adulthood, which included Barbie- and a variety of other collectible dolls, an Easy Bake oven and fully equipped play kitchen, pierced ears, Jordache jeans, ice skates, skis, a mountain bike, a computer, Amazon gift cards and/or cold hard cash.
In the last decade or so, however, the list has transformed to include more abstract wishes, like a healthy family, happy memories with family and friends, a healthy body, a positive spirit, and renewed peace of mind. Whether or not you are religious, conceiving of Christmas in this manner welcomes the opportunity for self-reflection, growth, and positive change.
And even if you do not believe in the Christmas miracle per se, we could all at least acknowledge and honor the birth of Jesus Christ as a means for spiritual renewal and an embodiment of what is good. With this in mind, let’s contemplate the following questions: How have I lived this past year? How have I treated my family members (biological and otherwise), my friends and acquaintances, my neighbors, those in need, and the nonhuman environment?
The answers to such questions will connect us to the next of my hum bugs, Santa Claus Is Coming to Town. While the melody and lyrics overtly connect with children, I assert the last two lines of the song’s chorus summon us all to ruminate: He knows if you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake. Goodness, as defined in the Oxford English Dictionary, is the quality of being morally good and virtuous in life, and in today’s world, finding true goodness can sometimes seem impossible. That said, being good for goodness sake further complicates Santa’s request. As with the first hum bug, let’s deliberate on some questions. Ask yourself, “Have I been good? for goodness sake? or for some other reason? or not so much, or not really at all”?
Now line up the answer lists from the first and second sets of questions, and while checking them twice, make sure to be honest whether you’ve been naughty or nice. Then check a third time whether things are aligned or somewhat skewed. Surprisingly, the results could be revelatory in guiding us towards goodness.
In light of the self-diagnostic, I shout forth a ginormous “Bah hum bug” to those who still choose to ignore the true spirit of Christmas – a time in which we imperfect humans are granted the most admirable gift of teaching love and learning to love for goodness sake.
I wish you all a merry good Christmas and New Year!
Be good for goodness sake!