December 01, 2004

If you can't lick 'em, join 'em.

Since I am unlikely to find myself licking Erik any time soon, I will instead throw my hands skyward and join Operation: God Jul. For those of you lacking in Scandinavian heritage and/or Swedish language instruction, that's Operation: Merry Christmas.

The occasional Canadian architect walked in the door this morning and excitedly announced, "It's December! Time to put up the Christmas tree!" It sounded better than project filing, so I shrugged and started hauling boxes down the rickety metal stairs from the office's tiny mezzanine. The tree came first and exploded into piles of plastic branches all over the admin desk while I puzzled over the instructions. Let's see, there's one set of instructions for the base, another set for the top, where's the set for the middle? Which branches go where? Do they think I'm a mind reader? and so on.

These were the thoughts going through my head when it crept over me that something had changed in the office. I felt... relaxed. Gleeful? I popped a branch into place, twisted a few wires to spread out the taffeta needles, stepped back and thought to myself that it looked pretty good. It would look better, of course, laden with lights and ornaments and tinsel and lit up and twinkling softly on and off and on and off while the gentle plink of a piano playing a warm jazz version of "O Tanenbaum" wafted through the air.... that was it. Someone had found, and started playing, the soundtrack to A Charlie Brown Christmas. I was lost.

I put the tree smack inside the front door, sitting on a five-foot vertical file with two large papier-mache reindeer nestled under it. The best word for it is inescapable: walk into the office and you will get Christmassed. I opened a box of decorations and found two big glittery silver stars mounted on 6" wands, which I stuck in my hair like big shiny antennae and wore all day. I handed out names for the Secret Santa gift exchange. I advised people on their contributions to the office holiday potluck.

Cockles? Warmed. There may yet be time for me to regain my sullen nonparticipation before the holiday season is over, but then, there may not. If there's not, we may yet get to see what happens when Dianna tries to explain the "Is this not a Christmas tree?" song to people who've never heard it.

Posted by dianna at December 1, 2004 06:28 PM

and you call yourself the girlfriend of a jew.

Posted by: didofoot at December 1, 2004 09:32 PM

Yyyyes. We're talking about a holiday that involves lots of pointless decorative shiny things. You expect a little thing like religious affiliation (or lack thereof, thank you) to stand between me and shiny things?

Posted by: Dianna at December 1, 2004 10:30 PM

yeah, you done got Christmassed, aight. if your sullen nonparticipation returns, expect a phone call consisting of nothing but a snippet of That Soundtrack. you are warned.

Posted by: Erik at December 2, 2004 07:24 AM

You could do even better with a snippet of the song to which I alluded in my last sentence. If you called me up and played that song at me, you'd probably get me to sing all of the call and response parts to the entire song all by myself at the top of my lungs. I'd even do the silly voices.

The reason I'm giving you this piece of holiday-cheer ammunition is that I'm secretly hoping it's possible, somehow, for that song to resurface in my life. The prospect is both so exciting and so unlikely that I'll even promise flat-out to sing it if anyone can find it.

Posted by: Dianna at December 2, 2004 10:29 AM

Okay, some quick Googling has inspired me to clarify something.

1. Whoever the fuck Dream Street is, that's not the right version. My family's classic Christmas music != boy bands.

2. Whoever the fuck the Sugar Beats are, that's also not the right version. I don't want any current re-recordings dripping with retro irony. I want the original with a piano and four people doing silly voices. Get away from my song, you bastards.

Posted by: Dianna at December 2, 2004 10:45 AM

Are those the correct song, just not the original version? I'm going to need more details if I am to induce silly-voiced singing.

Posted by: Erik at December 2, 2004 11:20 AM

Yes, as far as I can tell. I found those by googling for the lyrics, which means it's the right song. I don't know if they sing it the same way, but they're definitely the wrong people.

"Hey Bob, Jim, Betty!" at the beginning of the song is the only clue I have to who sang my version.

Posted by: Dianna at December 2, 2004 11:35 AM

dude, to confirm: are we talking "presents nice!" here?

Posted by: katie at December 2, 2004 12:24 PM

Are you sure it's not the Sugar Beats? Here's a sample of the song.

Posted by: Danny at December 2, 2004 12:53 PM

More specifically, here's a link to the song.

I hope I'm not spoiling the mystery for anyone. I've never heard this song, though the tune is surely familiar.

Posted by: Danny at December 2, 2004 12:58 PM

I don't have speakers here at work, so I'll have to wait until this evening to listen to the sample. I'm 99% sure it's not the Sugar Beats, though, since an "About the Sugar Beats" page describes them as a mix of adults and children re-recording classic songs from the 60s. The version I'm talking about actually is from the 60s.

Posted by: Dianna at December 2, 2004 01:05 PM

Oh, and they're all adults in the good version. They'd have to be, to say "presents nice" in that sultry tone. Hubba hubba!

Posted by: Dianna at December 2, 2004 01:06 PM

I wrote an email to the Sugar Beats people asking them for more info. This search is really killing my productivity today, but I can't resist a challenge.

Magical Trevor is also killing my productivity.

Posted by: Danny at December 2, 2004 01:28 PM

Upon listening to that sample, I can say with absolute certainty that the Sugar Beats are not it. They've got the right song, though. They must know where it came from, right?

Posted by: Dianna at December 2, 2004 06:11 PM

I had asked in my email if they knew who wrote the song and who first performed it. Their answers are below. Andrew Gold was their producer.

###Reply 1###

Hi Danny,

"Christmas Tree Song" is a public domain song, meaning that it was written so
long ago that no publishing company controls it. I'm not sure who performed
it originally.

Sorry I couldn't be more helpful.
Sugar Beats Ent.

###Reply 2###

We don't know. Our only reference to the song was Andrew Gold's memory. We couldn't track down the earlier recording.

Thanks for writing,

Sherry Kondor

Posted by: Danny at December 3, 2004 08:18 AM

All right, back to Plan A. Katie, can we add this to the list of things we have to copy from Mom and Dad when we're down in LA? I might need the cowboy Christmas album too.

Posted by: Dianna at December 3, 2004 09:28 AM

Er, I forgot to mention this: Danny, I'm completely delighted that you took it upon yourself to track down my favorite obscure Christmas carol. You rock.

Posted by: Dianna at December 3, 2004 09:30 AM

My pleasure. I'm irritated I couldn't get further. Wait, no, now that I've written that, I am going further. I'm emailing Andrew.

For anyone who's interested, and I know everyone is, Andrew Gold also produced Celine Dion & The Chipmunks' "French Xmas Carol" and he's famous for his hit single Thank You For Being a Friend. What a groovy guy!

Posted by: Danny at December 3, 2004 09:54 AM

travel down the road and back again? dood, i love that dood. golden girls rock!

p.s. let's watch the chipmunk movie with the penguin.
p.p.s. my little pony season 1 is out on dvd.

Posted by: friendly neighborhood editor at December 3, 2004 10:01 AM

Bring it on. Bring it tomorrow or sunday or whenever the next WB night is.

Posted by: Danny at December 3, 2004 10:14 AM

the my little pony? because i've got that. i don't got the chipmunks though sadly. i wonder if netflix has got them.

Posted by: friendly neighborhood editor at December 3, 2004 10:32 AM

Yes. Bring the my little pony. And stop posting as the editor. It throws me off.

Posted by: Danny at December 3, 2004 10:41 AM

whoops. sorry. i have no ability to remember to change that thing.

stoopid netflix is not functioning right now so i can't check on chipmunks.

i'm getting live action ewok adventure (i was always scared of the spider scene and fascinated by that little girl's golden curly hair) today too. ewok! ewok! i can't wait to go home!

Posted by: michele at December 3, 2004 11:24 AM

danny devito does a voice in my little pony? wtf?

Posted by: michele at December 3, 2004 01:51 PM

Andrew Gold wrote back to me, and as of yet I haven't found it, but he did lead me to a few new possibilities.

###Email Start###
Well, apart from me, obviously...the only version I ever heard was on a record called The Roger Wagner Chorale (I THINK), who's group my mother was in when she was a wee lass of 26 or so....

It was a Xmas record around 1960 or 58? Just guessing. But I remembered liking the song...check it out on the may be somewhere. I seem to recall the group around a xmas tree or something on the cover.

###Email End###

While I was searching , I did find this version of Yah das Ist Ein Christmas Tree by Mel Blanc (which I don't think is exactly the version you're looking for) on the Christmas Comedy Classics, Vol. 2 album, as well as some more risque selections, such as this rendition of Winter Wonderland and everyone's favorite It's Beginning to Look (a lot like Syphillis) from the Herniated Jingle Balls album.

Still looking.

Posted by: danny at December 4, 2004 06:24 PM

wait, the roger wagner chorale might be it. dianna, the version we've heard on that tape of dad's is definitely part of "the somebody-or-other group"'s christmas, is it not?

dear god, if this is the right one, and the guy's mother was in it, do you think SHE might have been the tomato with the "presents nice" line? rrrowwwr.

Posted by: katie at December 4, 2004 10:50 PM

because that would definitely get into MILF territory, is all.

Posted by: katie at December 4, 2004 10:51 PM

okay, and, i love that you've got people combing the internet and emailing producers, rather than just asking dad. but to help you do it the convoluted way: i've discovered if you go to and browse the "holiday music" section, they've got 379 pages of every christmas album that's still in print. it's probably on there somewhere. i made it through page 27 before i needed a break and hadn't seen it yet, although i have now seen christmas albums not only by all the people i'd long feared had done them (john tesh, or, "a 98 degrees christmas", god help us all), but by people i never would have suspected of such a thing.

hanson. the eagles. dan fogelberg. gene autry. donna summer. joan baez.

i stopped at air supply. but there are 352 more pages to go, if you'd like to take a shift.

Posted by: katie at December 4, 2004 11:27 PM

My brother & I found you googling--we've been looking for this song for 10 years, and are thrilled there are more of you working on this seasonal quest.
It's not on iTunes. We'll check out the Roger Wagner gambit. We asked our folks a long time ago but their memories are shot. They got so sick of the record they threw it out (although why they kept the Andy Williams Christmas & Perry Como albums instead is a mystery). Thanks--we'll let you know if we find it!

Posted by: Jill Dickey at December 8, 2004 02:40 PM

Another followup: I've downloaded 12 or so Christmas albums via bittorrent this week trying to get lucky, but as yet no such. I'm going through the last three albums today (60 songs total), and whoever ripped the mp3s originally named the files with numbers instead of song names, then went and did the same for the id3 tags, so I have to listen to EVERY song. Needless to say, I am getting pretty sick of christmas music.

Posted by: Danny at December 8, 2004 03:03 PM

Danny, you're completely insane. Slow down, man! There are still two weeks until Christmas and you can't burn yourself out on this now.

Posted by: Dianna at December 8, 2004 03:08 PM

The "Christmas Tree SOng" Appeared on an album around 1960 or 61 by the Ray Conniff Singers. I can't find the song listed at Amazon though so I don't know anymore what the name of the album was. But I remember the "Yes these presents all are nice" lady. Whoof! There was also a great fun jivey Christmas song I've not seen anywhere else called Christmas Gift" including the line, "Possum Possum you better run! My Daddy's got out his big shotgun...."

Posted by: Chuck Waterman at December 23, 2004 03:29 PM

HELP - did anyone ever find the record - the group - or the artists who sang this song - I too have been looking for years - if so please email me!!!!!!!!

Posted by: reeves at December 19, 2005 06:14 PM

The album you're looking for is called "The voices of Christmas - the voices of Walter Schumann" - Be careful - there are a couple of Schumann voices Christmas albums - this one has a photo on the cover with a X-mas tree and ornaments - there were a couple of them on E-bay last time I checked. The last song on Side 1 is "Christmas Tree."

Posted by: Marie at December 21, 2005 01:11 PM