Wham!’s Christmas Conundrums

As everyone knows, pop Christmas songs start getting played earlier and earlier every year. Christmas in July is no longer unheard of. But some Christmas mysteries also stubbornly hang around after the holiday, even on into April. While everyone else spent December fretting over whether or not Baby Jesus will forgive them for shanking the guy in front of them to get his place in the Wii line, I found myself, and find myself still, pondering an issue that has lingered in the collective unconscious since 1984—the question, of course, of what exactly happened to George Michael’s heart last Christmas.

Consider the lyrics to Wham!’s holiday carol:

Last Christmas I gave you my heart

But the very next day you gave it away

This year, to save me from tears

I’ll give it to someone special.

The first question that springs to mind is who did Michael’s beloved give it to? Did he/she give it back? Regift it? I can only imagine how that exchange went. “Hi, sorry this is late, but Merry Christmas, here’s the still-beating heart of yesterday’s boyfriend!” That’s not to say I haven’t brutally ripped a few hearts out of ex’s chests, but generally, I let them keep their organs and instead make off with a few DVDs. And certainly I would never turn around and give one of those to a new man.

But a more serious problem lurks in the chorus’s last line. Didn’t Michael regard the original beneficiary of his heart giving as special? He must have — generally people don’t just give their hearts away to random acquaintances. Their virginity and their phone numbers and collections of decorative bath soaps in nauseating scents like Pomegranate Pine or Calendula and Chive, maybe, but never, never their hearts.

Is Michael is doomed to walk the earth, a well-coiffed ghost of Christmas past, gripping the foil-wrapped box containing this precious gift, forever seeking someone who will finally put his oft-regifted heart to rest?

When giving any sort of gift, there are certain considerations to be taken, especially when regifting. A heart is a pretty intense Christmas gift, especially for a first Christmas together—a Flock of Seagulls CD, for example, or a small kitchen appliance, such as an immersion blender or a martini shaker, might make for a better choice. George Michael had no one to blame but himself, and chances are, the second recipient of his heart will be just as weirded out as the one whose name was originally on the gift tag.

So “this year,” older and wiser, as George Michael is off to give his heart to “someone special”, what is to save him from the same mistake again? Perhaps he plans to give up with the whole romance thing — maybe he is using the word special as a euphemism for retarded, and intends to spend the time he would have wasted on dating volunteering at a home for the mentally disabled instead. Perhaps he’ll meet Morrissey there, who, when fronting the Smiths, boasted in “Frankly Mr. Shankly” that he “sometimes feels more fulfilled / making Christmas cards with the mentally ill.” If Morrissey plays his cards right, he might unwrap George Michael’s heart on Christmas morning.

Libby Cudmore’s work has appeared in Hardboiled, Crime and Suspense, the Subway Chronicles and True Confessions. She is currently working on her MFA in popular fiction with the Stonecoast Program at the University of Southern Maine.