Many believe our society has lost sight of the true meaning of Christmas; that the spirit of caring, giving, and generosity has been replaced by the celebration of materialistic desire. There is perhaps no greater evidence in support of this claim than the widespread popularity of Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas is You this time of year at the expense of carols that greater express the wholesome, traditional messages of the season. The greatest of these neglected songs is the Lonely Island’s ‘Dick in a Box’. All I Want for Christmas is You is a ballad of carnal desire. Meanwhile, Dick in a Box advocates for love, generosity, and open-mindedness, yet many do not even recognize its status as a Christmas song despite it directly stating “you know it’s Christmas.”
All I Want for Christmas is You centers on a single feeling: desire for a sexual prospect. To Mariah Carey, nothing except this individual’s affection could make Christmas worthwhile. She expresses no desire to spread love, no desire to be thankful for what she does have, no desire to embrace the joyfulness of the season unless she is wanted by this single person.
On the other hand, Dick in a Box is all about giving. The narrator has developed a deep emotional connection with the subject of the song, and wants to give her the physical gift that best captures his love for her. In doing-so, he rejects the materialistic notions our society has about gifts.
Not gonna get you a diamond ring
That sort of gift don’t mean anything
Not gonna get you a fancy car
Girl you gotta know you’re my shining star
Not gonna get you a house in the hills
A girl like you needs somethin real
Wanna get you somethin from the heart
Somethin special girl
The narrator knows he could get something with more monetary value than putting his own genitalia in a box. However, he feels that his genitalia best capture the emotions he would like to express. That is what gift giving, and Christmas, is all about. Using a physical object to express your intangible emotions about someone you love. The narrator even makes a point to mention that this demonstration of emotion is not limited to Christmas, and should be practiced every day of the year. Christmas, however, is a time where we can use the traditions of the season to help us hone in on our expression of feelings.
While all I Want for Christmas is You simply uses Christmas as yet another attempt at gaining the affection of a potential lover, Dick in a Box reminds us of the mindset we should all have around this time of year. It’s a time not just for giving, but also for effectively expressing to our loved ones why they mean so much to us.