The Jackson 5 song “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” is either a childhood favorite or, if you’re like me, it’s a song that made you extremely concerned as a child. He really saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus? Isn’t Santa married? What would Daddy say? Of course, years later it’s easy to surmise that it isn’t really Santa kissing Mommy underneath the mistletoe, but rather Daddy dressed up as Santa. The lighthearted, overall cheerful tone of the song suggests that this is nothing more than an adorable misunderstanding on young Michael Jackson’s part. But one or two questions still remain. If Mommy and Daddy are so sure that all of the children are asleep, then why bother dressing Daddy as Santa? And if they thought there was a chance of being seen by the children, why risk blowing their cover with a kiss? Here’s exactly what I think happened on Christmas Eve in the Jackson household.
The lyric “She thought that I was tucked up in my bedroom, fast asleep” suggests that little Michael is fairly confident about not getting caught. And the kiss itself suggests that Mommy is also confident that Michael is in fact fast asleep in bed. Judging the context clues, my personal guess is that the Mommy character has already checked on every one of the kids to make sure they were asleep, and Michael either successfully faked sleep or woke up later in the night. And after checking on everyone, Mommy has decided that the coast is clear for the night.
The real confusion of the song comes in the next verse:
“Then I saw Mommy tickle Santa Claus
Underneath his beard so snowy white
Oh, what a laugh it would have been
If Daddy had only seen Mommy kissing Santa Claus last night.”
If Mommy had been tickling “Santa Claus” underneath his beard, Michael should have been able to see that the beard was fake, right? Unless Daddy himself had a snowy white beard. However, unless the couple had kids at an older age, I find it unlikely for Michael’s dad to have grown a full beard that could be considered “snowy white.” Therefore, the most likely case is that Michael simply doesn’t quite have the powers of perception or deduction to realize the beard is a fake. He is after all only 11 years old in the song, and since it takes place in the dead of night the lighting wouldn’t have been very bright.
As for the next couple of lines, Michael considers the prospect of his dad seeing the kiss between his mom and Santa “a laugh.” Perhaps he doesn’t quite grasp the seriousness of the idea of his mom kissing another man. Does he think that Daddy would simply stand and laugh if he saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus? Either way, at least we the listeners know that this isn’t an issue, since Daddy was really the one being kissed, thank goodness.
The song ends with Michael arguing with his older brothers about whether he actually did see Mommy kissing Santa Claus. His brothers insist that Michael is making things up. I take this as a sign that the boys know what’s up. They know it was really Daddy underneath the mistletoe, and they’re attempting to get Michael to drop the subject because they also know that if Michael brings it up with the parents, they’ll certainly have an… interesting time trying to explain what happened to him.