Helen Bach: We won’t all have a fairytale Christmas

The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl perform The Fairytale of New York
The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl perform The Fairytale of New York

What’s your favourite Christmas song?

Mariah belting out All I Want for Christmas is You?, Wham’s Last Christmas or Shakin’ Stevens’ double-denim classic Merry Christmas Everyone perhaps?

I see Slade’s Merry Christmas Everybody is predicted to be the top earning festive tune of 2013 – Noddy Holder and the other band members must be rubbing their hands in glee with the news that about £500,000 in royalties is heading their way!

At last, and not before time, there are some good new offerings this year – I keep finding myself singing Kelly Clarkson’s Underneath the Tree, and Leona Lewis has One More Sleep, surely the favourite way of counting down the days by junior family members (other than with a chocolate-filled advent calendar, of course!)

But my all-time favourite is Fairytale of New York by The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl.

My husband can never get his head around this, and always says “But it’s not jolly. You can’t have a Christmas song that’s not jolly!”

But I believe a Christmas song doesn’t need to be happy and, in fact, is all the better for not being.

Before you put me in the Grinch category, let me explain.

I think this song serves as a reminder that not everybody will be having a happy yuletide.

Personally, it’s at this time of year when I particularly think of homeless people, struggling to stay warm in freezing temperatures.

Or elderly people with no family to visit, lonely and alone.

Or the bereaved, where Christmas highlights their loss.

Not everyone will be having a Perry Como or Bing Crosby Christmas, and that’s what this song is saying.

So while I wish everyone a Merry Christmas, I ask you to spare a thought for those less fortunate while you listen to the dulcet tones of Shane McGowan and friends singing, in my opinion, the best Christmas song ever.

Altogether now:

“And the boys of the NYPD choir were singing Galway Bay,

And the bells were ringing out for Christmas Day.”

Read more from Helen here.