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Five Things To Love About "It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas"


The Cream Of Every Famous Band

"It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas" was written by Meredith Willson of The Music Man fame. Knowing this has sent The Enthusiast into a counterfactual reverie, imagining what would have happened had Willson given his hit musical a full holiday makeover. "76 Trombone Ornaments," "(Ya Got) Trouble Finding Just The Right Present," "Goodnight Ladies, I Have So Much Wrapping To Do," "’Til There Was Yuletide" – the list goes on and on.

Holly-Jolly Reticence

Curiously, the song was originally titled "It’s Beginning To Look Like Christmas." Scansion aside, what prompted Willson to tuck in that "a lot"? Did he look out his window in 1951 and say to himself, You know what? It’s Christmas-y out there, no question. But it’s just not Christmas per se, is it? Close, but no cigar in your stocking. A lot like Christmas – that’s as far as I’ll go.

Bullets Over Broadway

A lyric likely to be obscure to the modern listener runs:

A pair of Hopalong boots and a pistol that shoots Is the wish of Barney and Ben

Said footwear are cowboy boots modeled on those worn by sarsaparilla-swiggin’ cowboy Hopalong Cassidy, created by Clarence E. Mulford and made famous in more than sixty movies starring William Boyd. One hopes that Barney and Ben also receive a gun safe and rigorous firearm training along with that pistol that shoots.

A Christmas Toast To You, Macaulay Culkin

Johnny Mathis included "It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas" on his 1986 album Christmas Eve With Johnny Mathis. His version was little more than a beloved B-side until John Hughes and Chris Columbus included it on the soundtrack to Home Alone 2: Lost In New York; since then his rendition has regularly been the most played version of the song. Long story short, Home Alone 2 provided a paycheck for Tim Curry and a new seasonal favorite for us – what’s not to like?

The Principal Is My Pal

Props to Willson for sneaking in a sly serving of tart in a season groaning under the weight of so much sweet:

And Mom and Dad can hardly wait

For school to start again.

Ma and Pa Enthusiast could indeed hardly wait for a bit of respite, year after generous year, but somehow never let on. That forbearance is indeed a carol to sing right within your heart.

Number twenty-one in a series.

21 December 2020

The Enthusiast ( is the pen name of critic Michael Collins. He reports back only on what’s good, never what’s bad. He is currently imbued with the holiday spirit.


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