By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
J.J. Malone was right about 'Christmas Shoes'
Dana Jo and JJ Malone. - photo by Jim Bennett
Now is the time of year when Christmas music saturates the airwaves, and many of my Facebook friends have told me that its not really the holiday season until I post my first anti-Christmas Shoes status update.

In case you havent seen any of my previous rants on the subject, I should preface this by saying that the song Christmas Shoes and I have a very checkered history. I have long considered it a mawkish and maudlin piece of claptrap, and I dont understand why a kid with a dying mother would carry a sock full of pennies to a department store on Christmas Eve just to buy her a pair of shoes that shell never actually use. Ive long thought its a perfect recipe for a scam just tug at some strangers heartstrings and get them to buy you the most expensive shoes you can find and then return them after the New Year to pocket the refund. I admit thats not the most charitable interpretation of the song, and I confess to being quite the Christmas Shoes cynic.

Every year, that put me at odds with J.J. Malone.

J.J. and I both grew up in Southern California, where we attended A.E. Wright Middle School and Calabasas High. We lived in close proximity to each other for the better part of a decade, so its a bit strange to admit that I cant ever recall us having a single face-to-face conversation. I remember watching him from afar as he would actually talk to pretty girls who wouldnt have been willing to give me the time of day. Not being one of the cool kids myself, I always found myself on the outside looking in, whereas by sixth grade, J.J. was something of a legend. Even though he had a reputation for being very friendly and personable, I found him quite intimidating.

So I never said a word to him because I assumed he wouldnt have been willing to waste any of his cool kid cachet on a geek like me.

Fortunately, time has a way of diffusing adolescent anxieties and decades after high school graduation, J.J. sent me a Facebook friend request. I was quite flattered and somewhat surprised that he even knew who I was. I soon discovered that we had a lot more in common than I had assumed back in the day. I realized that his legendary status was well-deserved and came to appreciate his quick wit and kind heart.

Thats probably why J.J. was quite taken aback the first time he saw me rail on Christmas Shoes. He loved the song, and Im sure it pained him to learn that I was such a black-hearted scoundrel. Still, he was patient with me in our good-natured Christmas Shoes exchanges where he tried to get me to see the error of my ways. And as much as I enjoyed ripping on Christmas Shoes, I also enjoyed reading J.J.s impassioned defenses, which were usually playful and never rude. He couldnt convince me to love Christmas Shoes, but he always made me want to be a better person.

Suddenly and unexpectedly, J.J. passed away this summer. I didnt fully appreciate how heartbreaking that was until I heard Christmas Shoes on the radio for the first time this season. Instead of thinking all my usual cynical thoughts, I thought about my friend, and the song brought me to tears.

So dont look for any more nasty Christmas Shoes rants from me in the future. As far as Im concerned, thats an argument that J.J. Malone has forever won.
Sign up for our E-Newsletters