Front cover of picture sleeve of 1982 UK reissue
|Single by The Waitresses|
|from the album A Christmas Record|
|B-side||"Christmas Fever" (Charlelie Couture)
"Hangover 1/1/83" (The Waitresses)
|Genre||Christmas, new wave, post-punk|
|Length||4:30 (single edit)
5:18 (LP edit)
|Label||Ze WIP 6763 (1981)
Ze WIP 6821 (1982)
|The Waitresses chronology|
"Christmas Wrapping" is a Christmas song by the American post-punk band The Waitresses. It was first released on the compilation album A Christmas Record (1981) on ZE Records, and also appears on the Waitresses' 1982 EP I Could Rule the World if I Could only Get the Parts (1982). It has been included on numerous Christmas holiday compilation albums in the US and UK, including Now That's What I Call Christmas!: The Signature Collection (2003). The song received positive reviews from music critics, and AllMusic described it as "one of the best holiday pop tunes ever recorded."
The song is told from the perspective of a busy single woman adamant not to participate in the exhausting Christmas period. She has "turned down all her invites" and resolves to "miss this one this year". Earlier in the year, she saw a man in a ski shop and got his telephone number, but had no time to ask him out. Despite the pair's attempts to meet in the following months, a succession of mishaps keeps them apart. Finally, on Christmas Eve, as she is roasting the "world's smallest turkey" (courtesy of A&P) for her dinner alone, she realizes she has forgotten to buy cranberries. She runs to a convenience store and, by coincidence, runs into the man (who has also forgotten cranberries), bringing her Christmas "to a very happy ending." In the final chorus, she admits that she "couldn't miss this one this year."
In 1981 ZE Records asked each of its artists to record a Christmas song for a Christmas compilation album, A Christmas Record. Songwriter Chris Butler wrote the song in August that year, assembling it from assorted unused riffs he had saved "for a rainy day". Some of the lyrics were finished in a taxi cab on the way to the recording studio. Butler explained the lyrics came from "just very much that for years I hated Christmas ... Everybody I knew in New York was running around like a bunch of fiends. It wasn't about joy. It was something to cope with."
Release and reception
The song was released as a single in the UK in 1981 on Island Records. Although it did not make the charts that year, it was reissued in 1982 and reached No. 45 on the official UK Singles Chart in December 1982. It has been reissued on numerous Christmas compilation albums in the UK.
Writing in 2005, Guardian writer Dorian Lynskey called the song "fizzing, funky dance-around-the-Christmas-tree music for Brooklyn hipsters." In 2012, Daily Telegraph writer Bernadette McNulty called it "one of the most charming, insouciant festive songs ever." Allmusic writer Andy Hinds called it "one of the best holiday pop tunes ever recorded."
"Christmas Wrapping" has been covered by numerous artists. It was covered by the British pop group the Spice Girls as a B-side for their 1998 single "Goodbye", with lyrics anglicised to include a reference to British supermarket chain Tesco. It has also been covered by Save Ferris (with lyrics altered for a Jewish perspective), Kate Nash, the Front Bottoms, the Donnas, the cast of the broadway musical Wicked, Miranda Cosgrove, comedian Doug Benson, Martha Wainwright, the cast of the TV show Glee and Disney Channel star Bella Thorne.
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