Saturday, November 28, 2009

Time for Racist Reindeer Games

Well, Thanksgiving is over, and you know what that means: It's time to get my Christmas on.

Oh yeah, I'm gonna get my window lights on, gonna get my Vince Guaraldi Charlie Brown Christmas on, gonna get my gingerbread on, gonna get my carols on.

I'm still in Massachusetts with Jeff's family, so unfortunately I can't start immediately--at least, other than the Charlie Brown Christmas music, which is on my iPod and which always fucks up my shuffle. I'll be bopping down the streets of New York in July, feeling fly in my jean shorts, listening to "Get Out of My Dreams (Get Into My Car)" or some equally cheesy pop song that probably appeared in a Corey Haim vehicle, and all of a sudden I'll hear those little castrati voices singing "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing." Now, though, I will skip right to that shit. That and Frank Sinatra's smoky molasses bedroom voice making sweet, sweet love to "The Christmas Waltz": It's the time of year when the world falls in love...

Of course, the yuletide song that sticks with me the most is "Pablo The Reindeer." You won't be familiar with it unless you were a member of the glee club at a largely hispanic elementary school in the late 80s. And oh, you don't know what you were missing. There were some great things about being at a diverse school--we sang "Lift Ev'ry Voice" and the Spanish national anthem along with "The Star-Spangled Banner" at every assembly--but "Pablo," which we performed each year at the Christmas concert, was not one of them. Let's take a look at the lyrics, shall we?

When Santa goes to Mexico [Ed note: prounounced Me-hi-ko]
He takes a reindeer called Pablo
Pablo can sing and dance and play
He leads the reindeer all the way

Santa can't speak the Espanol
So he depends on good old Paul
All the muchachos love him so
Pablo the reindeer from Mexico

Without him (la la la la)
Santa would not know where he's going
Ay yi yi yi
Without him (la la la la)
He would not know if it was snowing
South of the border?

Pablo can do the cha-cha-cha
He makes the children laugh, ha ha
All of the children love him so
Pablo the reindeer from Mexico


[Then some lyrics I can't remember, but the song ends like so:]
All the muchachos shout Ole!
Pablo please hurry back they say

Yes, that's right. There was Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen, Rudolph... and Pablo, the ESL reindeer, who only got trotted out for trips down Me-hi-ko way. Because Santa, although he manages to fit his chubby girth down chimneys and visit every child in the world in a single evening, simply cannot find the time to order Rosetta Stone from Nor does he know how to get anywhere other than within the borders of the continental United States. This song implies that when Santa approaches a foreign child, he begins to sweat, hastily tossing presents under the tree or cacti or whatever and then backing away shouting "MER-RY CHRIST-MAS!" at a decibel level that suggests the listener is deaf or in a coma.

Does this mean that there are other secret reindeer, too? When Santa goes to Iceland does he let Björn out of his cage? Does Kwame come to Africa and play the djembe? There is so much money to be made in follow-up songs...

I think I've found my calling.


  1. this song is constantly stuck in my head, and when I was in glee club, we had a girl do a tap dance solo and changed "Pablo" to "Pablita." no joke.

  2. While painting our apartment my whole iTunes library was on shuffle and we had a few random mood shifts to say the least (I believe we went from NIN to "Bring Him Home" from Les Mis at one point) but nothing made me happier than when a random John Denver & The Muppets or Vince Guaraldi came on :) There was a distinct lack of snow outside the window, so the mood was not complete, but it still made me light up inside.

    Re: a previous post - I am Thankful for my Two Front Teeth, the absence of Hippopotami at my Christmas, and Dominic the Donkey.

  3. Anonymous5:32 PM

    You're really going to play the race card over this simple little ditty? I remember singing this when I was in sixth grade back in the 70s. How about seeing it as a musical gesture of multicultural inclusion? Lighten up and stop reading so much into so little.

  4. Anonymous -- I'm just making fun. And while it may be well-meaning, it is kind of cringe-worthy today.

  5. Dominic the Donkey is one of my FAVORITE Christmas songs ever.

    Jingady jing.

  6. Dominic the Donkey used to get turned off immediately as soon as I hear it was coming up based purely on the aesthetics of the song. It makes me want to scratch chalk boards. Then one day I googled the lyrics and realized as a 50% paisan, I should probably grin and bear it.

  7. Thank You. Having only found your blog earlier this year, I had never read this post on Pablo, Santa's little Hispanic Helper. This would have been a travesty had you not linked to it today because this is hilarious!

    Thanks for making me laugh!

  8. I just found this blog when I goggled to find the song about the reindeer from Mexico that I remembered from Elementary school! So thanks for filling in the blanks in the song for me so that I can now get the song out of my head! :)

  9. Anonymous4:25 PM

    We sang it in Girl's Glee in the 60s and then my niece sang it again in the early 90s, same school, same cha-cha-cha:) It's a standing joke between us now that she is in Med School in NYC.

  10. Holy crap...we sung this when i was in the first or second grade in elemtary school! And all of the students were prodominantly white, and my school only had 100 or so kids (rural Iowa). Now to find that Waikiki song the third graders used kazoos on...


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