Tue 15 Dec 2009
One of my wife’s favorite Christmas songs is this tale of a little kangaroo being kidnapped from a zoo by Santa Claus. It’s actually pretty adorable.
Written and performed by Aussie ex-pat Rolf Harris (of “Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport” fame), the song is an an Australian riff on Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer and The Night Before Christmas. Since reindeer can’t cut it in the Aussie summer, Santa subs them out for kangaroos when making trips down under.
These are kangaroo bucks, or “boomers,” and they’re strong enough that it only takes six of them to pull Santa’s sleigh. Much more efficient than those puny “eight little reindeer.” And since it’s Christmas, and kangaroos don’t come in red or green, well, they might as well be white, the albino variety! Albinism is festive!
Curiously, rather than the night before Christmas, this story takes place on the day AFTER Christmas. After he’s finished delivering gifts (“pressies” as they’re called Down Under) in the Western Hemisphere, Santa spots a baby kangaroo that’s been stolen from its mother and placed in some cold Northern zoo, and being Santa Claus, he knows that the only thing this little joey could want for Christmas is to be reunited with her. Now, because it’s Christmas in Australia before anywhere else in the world, he’s already delivered Christmas pressies to all the Aussie girls and boys, but Santa makes a special trip back to return the lost Joey. Even as fast as Santa’s kangaroo-powered sleigh goes, they can’t make it back until December 26.
Good thing kangaroos don’t pay much attention to human holidays.
Besides having a rousing chorus that reportedly sends Australian children bounding excitedly around the house, the song is packed with charming little details: when Santa gets to sweltering Australia, he takes off his big, fur-lined boots, and the joey hops into one of them. It’s a cute touch, and actually pretty consistent with natural behavior, since joey raised by humans like to be carried around in bags and other things that resemble pouches. And when they fly over the Outback, Harris specifically mentions them passing Marble Bar, a tiny town in Western Australia which is adjacent to a geological site known as … The North Pole.
I find it hard to believe that there’s never been an animated Christmas special made based on this song, since it seems tailor-made for such a treatment. But maybe Aussies don’t go crazy for Christmas specials like the Yankees do. Anyway, it’s a very fun song and I think holds up well against other classic holiday tunes from all over the world. Add it to your X-mas playlist today!