MY favorite Christmas carol is “Joy to the World”, but not the original. It’s the version I heard from a group of ragged children in Villa Ernesto years ago:
“Joy to the Lord, the Lord has come. Let er, bersing, berking. Let er bring harm. Let er bring broom. And never, never sing. And never, never sing. And never, and never, and never sing!”
It might seem nonsensical, but it can also be meaningful. The original says only the world is joyful; it doesn’t describe the feeling of Jesus. But in the street version, Jesus is also happy to be born. Thus, “Joy to the Lord, the Lord has come.”
“Let er bersing” is a call for people to celebrate Christmas with raucous singing and wild drinking of beer, because the king has arrived. “Let er bring harm” is an acceptance of the eventual suffering of Jesus, and “Let er bring broom” is a reference to the year-end cleansing of our houses and our minds and bodies from last year’s accumulated dirt and clutter and sinful ways.
My other favorite Christmas carol is “12 Days of Christmas”. For years, I waited for a group of inspired individuals to sing it to us, but it never happened. Most of our visitors preferred the short songs, mainly Bisayan and Tagalog. Two children from a poor community in the fishpond area appeared in front of our gate and sang something insignificant, so I asked them to deliver 12 Days of Christmas. Instead of singing, they got scared and ran away.
Christmas and New Year passed by and another Christmas came rolling in, like a wave of pleasant wind and good spirits, and this group of happy kids came to us, and finally gave us what I had been waiting for in my entire existence. But instead of singing the complete, glorious 12 Days of Christmas from the beginning, these wise kids skipped the entire 11 days and instead began vigorously on the 12th. As a result, the whole performance was done in 30 seconds.
Today I have given up hope on the 12 Days of Christmas. Also, Christmas appears to have become bleak. I no longer think it’s the birthday of Jesus. He might have been born in October. When I get hit by a cold breeze, I suspect it’s because the ice in Siberia is melting, and the sleeping microbes will soon resurrect and give birth to a Zombie Apocalypse. A strange messiah has also taken control of our psyche. This is why the songs have transformed from the joyfully irreverent to the seriously deadly. In the past, we would sing “Jingle bells, jingle bells, tae ni Sabel. O wat pan, o wat pan, tae ni Juan, ey!”
But today, extra-judicial killing and its twisted philosophy appear to have corrupted everything. My own kids and their friends have a disturbing version of it, and it has been passed on from one household to another, a grave warning to all: “Jingle bells, jingle bells, tae ni Sabel. Giputos sa papel, gipusil pusil, ey!”
I better stop right here or I might be accused of blasphemy. Remember: Never, never sing.
See also elson.elizaga.net