The seventh song of Christmas: A white trash Christmas

If the subtitle grabbed your attention and raised any hackles, know that I used it ironically. I don’t like the phrase “white trash” for two reasons. First, the qualifier “white” implies that “trash” by itself is black, and I don’t much care for that sentiment. Secondly, the word “trash” smacks of elitism when it’s applied to people, and as such, is used to demean those whom we see as being of a lower class than our own.

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, and in the case of Robert Earl Keen’s “Merry Christmas from the Family,” that treasure lies in the narrator’s familial relationships. Certainly, Keen’s blend of Americana, bluegrass, country, and folk is associated with “white trash.” And the picture he paints of his family is associated with the same. I say it’s a painting of personality, and I’ve seen some of that personality at my own family gatherings. This can’t be white trash, because it portrays so much color.

The lyrics crack me up to this day, especially the shopping lists in the two refrains. I’m fairly certain this is the only Christmas song ever to use the word “tampon” in a refrain, and that’s only one example of this family’s complete honesty with one another. Some of the lyrics sound judgmental, but I submit they’re not meant that way. Rather, they’re meant to show love and respect, bodily functions and all.

You probably noticed I linked to the live version above. I’m not including a link to the studio version, because the live version is far superior in my opinion, and because apparently the internet agrees with me, as I couldn’t find the studio version on the first page of search results. And I’m too lazy to search further. Plus, I’m going to see Star Wars soon, so I’ll wrap up….

I love songs like this, that capture regional flavor in music and lyrics, typically of marginalized groups. That’s how my picks for this entry’s “stocking stuffers” are related; they’re from other regions featuring other specific groups of people who’ve been stereotyped. These people are both white and black, but none of them is trash.


Mom got drunk and Dad got drunk
At our Christmas party.
We were drinkin’ champagne punch and
Homemade eggnog.

Little Sister brought her new boyfriend.
He was a Mexican.
We didn’t know what to think of him
‘Til he sang, “Feliz Navidad, Feliz Navidad!”

Brother Ken brought his kids with him —
The three from his first wife, Lynn,
And the two identical twins
From his second wife, Mary Nell.

Of course he brought his new wife, Kay,
Who talks all about AA,
Chain smokin’ while the stereo plays,
“Noel, Noel, the First Noel.”

Carve the turkey, turn the ballgame on.
Mix margaritas when the eggnog’s gone.
Send somebody to the Quik Pak store;
We need some ice and an extension cord,
A can of bean dip and some Diet Rites,
A box of tampons, some Marlboro Lights.

Fran and Rita drove from Harlingen.
I can’t remember how I’m kin to them.
But when they tried to plug their motor home in,
They blew our Christmas lights.

Cousin David knew just what went wrong,
So we all waited out on our front lawn.
He threw a breaker and the lights came on
And we sang, “Silent night, oh silent night, oh holy night.”

Carve the turkey, turn the ballgame on.
Make Bloody Marys ’cause we all want one!
Send somebody to the Stop and Go;
We need some celery and a can of fake snow,
A bag of lemons and some Diet Sprites,
A box of tampons, some Salem Lights.
Hallelujah, everybody say, “Cheese!”
Merry Christmas from the family.

Feliz Navidad!

Stocking stuffers:

Day 8:

No words…

About Dan Bain

Dan is an award-winning humorist, features writer, emcee and entertainer from Raleigh, NC. His collection of humor essays, A Nay for Effort, has earned him fans from one end of his couch to the other. Why not join them and buy one? (You won't have to sit on his couch.) Dan will donate 10 percent of the book's proceeds to education. You can check it out at; thanks!
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1 Response to The seventh song of Christmas: A white trash Christmas

  1. Robin says:

    Love it! LOL!!!!!!!

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