Happy Holidays! Since it’s the first year of my blog, and since it’s the last year for my Annual Holiday Show on my little 20-year-old 80s radio program, STUCK IN THE 80s (on WMPG community radio in Portland, Maine), I wanted to present to you THE 31 DAYS OF 80s XMAS SONGS, or, 31 of my favorite 80s holiday musical treats.
You know it’s STUCK IN THE 80s’ Annual Holiday Show when this song, “Christmas Wrapping” by The Waitresses opens the show! This was released as a 7” single in 1981 and as part of their 1982 EP (with one of my favorite titles ever), I COULD RULE THE WORLD IF I COULD ONLY GET THE PARTS.
Formed in 1977 and disbanded by 1984, The Waitresses were a New Wave / Post-Punk band from Akron, Ohio (like fellow New Wavers Devo), and was led by guitarist / songwriter Chris Butler. The voice of The Waitresses was the late, great Patty Donahue, who sadly passed away from lung cancer 20 years ago at the age of 40.
1982’s “I Know What Boys Like” was the band’s lone hit, and they were responsible for the theme song for the short-lived but fun series, SQUARE PEGS (starring a young Sarah Jessica Parker), and even appeared in the TV show, but it was this holiday gem that has held a place in my heart for a very long time.
In 1981, the band’s label, ZE Records, asked each of its artists to record a Christmas song for the label’s Christmas compilation, A CHRISTMAS RECORD, which would also feature artists like Bill Laswell, Nona Hendryx and Was (Not Was). It was described as “the first-ever Alternative Christmas album.”
The band’s Chris Butler once explained in 2005 that the lyrics for “Christmas Wrapping” came from “just very much that for years I hated Christmas. Everybody I knew in New York was running around like a bunch of nerds. It wasn’t about joy, it was something to cope with.”
Well, coping with Christmas or not, “Christmas Wrapping” reached No. 45 on the U.K. singles chart in 1982, and eventually found its way on many Xmas compilations over the years and was even featured in a Visa Bank Americard commercial in 2013. And loved by many throughout the globe.
“Christmas Wrapping” has been covered in recent years by the likes of the Spice Girls, the Ska band Save Ferris, Kate Nash, The Donnas, Martha Wainwright, the cast of GLEE, and by the unlikely pairing of Iggy Pop and Kylie Minogue for Kylie’s 2015 seasonal album, KYLIE CHRISTMAS.
To paraphrase from the song’s lyrics, this year has been a busy blur, I often don’t have the energy, and Xmas may not be my favorite holiday, but whether on STUCK IN THE 80s or away from the show, I can’t imagine getting through any holiday season without the original version of “Christmas Wrapping” by The Waitresses.