My parents didn’t usually listen to the local pop/rock radio station when I was a kid, so I didn’t hear the more youth-oriented Christmas songs during the season until I was a pre-teen with a radio of my own. The first time I usually heard “Jingle Bell Rock” was the evening of Christmas Day when I went into one bedroom or another with my older girl cousins (at their house or at Grandma Mary’s), who seemed to provide a soundtrack for every occasion via WSAI, one of Cincinnati’s popular rock stations. By the time I heard “Jingle Bell Rock,” the holiday was virtually over. That always made me sad. Now I can barely escape it, whether Bobby Helms’s original 1957 version or later covers. Fortunately, familiarity hasn’t bred contempt; the Helms version, especially, makes me pause, smile, and think, “Well, I’m hearing it during the Christmas season when it still matters!”
This writing nudge plays off a line from “Jingle Bell Hop.” Seriously, have you ever really pictured the jingle hop?:
Now the jingle hop has begun. Is it really what people think it is? Explain the event to someone with a limited understanding of English. Or fix a vision of this occasion in your head and explain it to yourself.
Here’s the original I always missed during my childhood Christmas seasons: