I am pretty sure most people don’t choose Yogi Yorgesson’s “Yingle Bells” as their favorite Christmas song. But, it’s mine. And I love Yogi’s other Christmas song, “I Yust Go Nuts At Christmas,” too. And because this is a genealogy blog, of course it has to do with family.

A Family Tradition

My Scandinavian-American grandparents played these novelty 78 recordings every Christmas Eve. My father carried on the tradition until his death a few years ago. I can still hear him singing along and laughing at his favorite lines. I think Yogi was pretty popular on Chicago radio in the 1940s, where my father and grandparents would have first encountered him.

Yogi Yorgesson’s “Yingle Bells”

My wife says to me, “Let’s not drive the old coupé;
Hitch up once again the one horse open sleigh.”
The horse was awful mad, If he could talk he’d say
“You’ll be sorry you hitched me to a one horse open sleigh.”

Yingle Bells, Yingle bells, yingling all the way
It yust ain’t like it used to be in the one horse open sleigh.
Yingle bells, Yingle bells, yingling all the way
I should have worn long underwear in that one-horse open sleigh.

Dashing through the snow with the cold win’ in our face
I can’t hold the horse, he thinks he’s in a race.
He kicks snow on us, it hits us on the chest
I bet that we’re the coldest Swedes in the whole darn Middle West.

Yingle Bells, Yingle bells, yingling all the way
My wife sure hates sleigh bells since she rode that one horse sleigh.
Yingle Bells, Yingle Bells, yingling all the way
We’re too old for riding in a one horse open sleigh.

The night is awful dark, can’t see beyond my nose
I can’t blink my eyes. My eyeballs must be froze.
I can’t hear my wife yell, I can’t see her face
I guess I must have lost her when we turned at Yonson’s place. [This is where my father would laugh the most]

Yingle Bells, Yingle Bells, Yingling all the way
I nearly caught pneumonia in that one horse open sleigh
Yingle Bells, Yingle Bells, Yingling all the way –
I wouldn’t make brass monkeys ride in a one horse open sleigh!

Who Was Yogi Yorgesson?

Harry Edward Skarbo (later Anglicized to Stewart) was the son and grandson of Norwegian immigrants. He had a successful career performing in radio, recordings, and nightclubs as his alter ego, the comically stereotypical Swedish-American Yogi Yorgesson.

In the 1930s, Stewart developed Yogi as a Hindu mystic from Stockholm. Eventually, Stewart dropped his crystal ball act in favor of more straight-forward humorous songs. “Stewart nonetheless deliberately tried to make Yorgesson more intelligent than the stereotype of the naive rubes that other Scandinavian dialect comedians were using,” reports Wikipedia.

I Yust Go Nuts At Christmas

Yorgesson’s best-remembered song is probably “I Yust Go Nuts At Christmas.”

Oh, I yust go nuts at Christmas,
On that yolly holiday.
I’ll go in the red, like a knucklehead
‘Cause I squander all my pay.

Oh, I yust go nuts at Christmas,
Shopping sure drives me beserk.
On the day before, I rush in a store,
Like a poor bevildered yerk.

I looked at nightgowns for my vife,
Dose black ones trimmed in red.
But I don’t know her size, and so,
She’ll get a carpet-sweeper instead.

Oh, I yust go nuts at Christmas
Ven each kid hangs up his sock.
It’s a time for kids to flip der lids,
While der papa goes in hock.

On da night before Christmas,
It’s still in the house.
My family is sleeping,
I’m quiet like a mouse.

I look at my vatch and midnight is near,
I tink I’ll sneak out for a cold glass of beer.
Down at the corner, the crowd is so merry,
I end up by drinking about twelve Tom & Yerry.

I get to bed late, and gee vhiz how I’m sleeping,
Ven on to my bed, dose darn kids, day come leaping.
Day sit on my face, and day yump on my belly,
And I’m quivering all over, like a bowl full of yelly.

Day scream “Merry Christmas!” My poor vife and me,
Ve stumble downstairs, and she lights off da tree.
My head is exploding, my mouth tastes like a pickle,
I step on a skate, and fall on a tricycle.

Yust before Christmas dinner, I relax to a point,
Den relatives start svarming all over da yoint.
On Christmas, I hug and I kiss my vife’s mother,
Da rest of da year, ve don’t speak to each other.

After dinner, my aunt and my vife’s Uncle Louie,
Get into a argument; dere both awful screwy.
Den all of my vife’s family say Louie is right,
And my goofy relations, day yoin in da fight.

Back in da corner, da radio is playing,
And over da racket, Gabriel Heatter is saying,
“Peace on earth everybody, and gudvill toward men!”
And yust at dat moment, someone slugs Uncle Ben.
Dey all run outside vhooping so da neighbors will hear.

Ohhhh, I’m so glad Merry Christmas
Comes yust once a year.

Oh, I yust go nuts at Christmas,
But I still have lots of fun.
Yust the same as you, I enyoy it too,
Merry Christmas, everyone!