Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Sticking Out Their Greedy Little Hands

Like most children in the seventies, I used to be obsessed with Mad Magazine and owned a number of Mad books which I treasured and read many times. One of these was a collection of song parodies which I especially loved because I liked to sing.

I particularly remember a series of Christmas-themed parodies (I think this was featured in Sing Along With Mad, although it could have been part of a Christmas-themed anthology instead, I'm not 100% sure).

For some reason, the song that has stuck with me most vividly after all these years is a parody of Winter Wonderland. It's basically a litany of complaints about the "greedy" people who expect tips at Christmastime, like your building superintendent and doorman. (I use the word "apartment" more now, but growing up, everyone was always talking about "the building.") The joke was that everyone who is usually half-assed and hard to reach suddenly emerges out of the woodwork at Christmas to collect their fat holiday tips. I thought it was hilarious.

I didn't realize how "New York" it was until years later, when I started singing it one day and Guy asked, "What are you singing??" People like doormen and supers are a normal part of everyday life in NYC...but in Indiana where Guy grew up, not so much. He was also amused by the stingy mean-spiritedness of it--but that's Mad for ya!

I wish I could find the original illustrations but sadly, I couldn't find them online.

Doorbells ring, it’s the season,
And you know what’s the reason.
There’s someone out there who’s after his share,
Sticking out his greedy little hand.

First to come is the doorman,
He will claim he’s a poor man.
The janitor’s next on some weak pretext,
Sticking out his greedy little hand.

Then will come the superintendent’s visit.
He will ring your doorbell loud and long.
You will open up and ask, what is it?
He’ll just smile and sing a Christmas song!

Later on you’ll get the cash out
For the man who takes the trash out.
How nice they’re all here on one day a year
Sticking out their greedy little hands!


  1. We were just expected to tip the paperboy where I grew up--one of the approved currencies was McDonald's gift certificates, at least according to McDonald's. This was before adults were the only ones who delivered papers.

  2. I don't actually remember my parents tipping anyone. We didn't have a doorman. I don't think they tipped the super, but maybe they did. My dad was very generous with stuff like that, but maybe it wasn't done so much in my building. I know he gave delivery guys big tips.

  3. I'm not sure we tipped the paperboy--I just remember getting some wheedling xmas card from him, with an handy envelope for cash attached.

  4. I don't recall the milk man, the mail people, or the trash men being tipped. (Back in the 70s, the milk man and the trash men that I saw were always men. Mail people could be either gender.)

  5. It was in Sing Along With Mad, I still have it. Also had The 12 Days of Jackie Onassis; on the fifth day of Christmas, Onassis gave to meeee: The New York Mets, 5th Avenue, Plymouth Rock, Niagara Falls and the Statue of Liberty!