In my parents living room is a stereo my mom has had since before I was born. It was a high tech piece of equipment in its day. The turn table can handle six records and drop them (hands-free!) for continuous music play. There’s also a built in AM/FM radio.
Despite being a centerpiece in the living room, my mom didn’t spin the tunes to often. Come Christmas, however, holiday music was constant. Elivs and Andy Williams, Bing Crosby and Kenny Rogers were belting classic carols, plus a few originals. They came to be my yardsticks by which all holiday music is measured.
We’ve been cranking the carols since Thanksgiving, through cookie making and tree decorating. Here’s my list of my favorite Christmas albums.
The latest addition to my holiday catalog. There’s the ethereal music we’ve come to expect from Enya. The chant-like qualities of “Trains and Winter Rains” will having you humming them for days. There’s also a riveting rendition of “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” and “Silent Night” in Gaelic. My favorite track: “White is the Winter Night”
Doesn’t matter if you’re a kid or an adult, this whacky Christmas listen spans the spectrum from funny to religious to near-irreverent. Okay, so most carols don’t culminate with screaming “Run, run reindeer!” but the unexpected is what we love about the Muppets. John Denver’s stories and “The River Meets the Sea” balance it all out. “Christmas is Coming” cracks me up every time. Favorite Track: “Silent Night” (sung in German).
This is the best of the bunch of Very Special Christmas CDs. Who knew there could be a ska Christmas song professing to love everyone? Sting, Natalie Merchant, No Doubt. Admittedly, this is my college years in a Christmas album, so I’m slightly nostalgic for the artists, but I love the songs, too. Favorite Track: Tie between “Christmastime” by Smashing Pumpkins and “I Saw Three Ships” by Sting
Bonanza: Christmas on the Ponderosa
Before you think I’m old enough to have enjoyed Bonanza in its heyday, hold on there, Hoss. I took to this album from my mom’s childhood because a girl named Susie with red hair got to put the stor atop the Christmas tree. The stories holding the songs together make you feel like you’re there on the Ponderosa lighting candles on the Christmas tree (yikes!). Favorite track: “The New Born King”
Any CD that includes the infamous “Batman smells, Robin laid an egg” verse of “Jingle Bells” is a must listen, at least once a holiday season. Plus their folksy Hanukkha songs brings my knownledge of Hanukkha songs to 4 (you can guess the other two). The organ renditions of carols makes me think I’m at the Lowry organ store in the Lehigh Valley Mall in 1988. Favorite track: “Elf Lament”
Hey, it’s the king of rock ‘n’ roll. And boy does he have a lot of Christmas albums. He brings a rockin’ Christmas, but you also believe he cried in “Momma Loved the Roses” ( one of the many tracks from my childhood that as an adult I realized was very depressing, right up there with Merle Haggard’s “If we make it through December”). Favorite Track: “Blue Christmas
Any suggestions for holiday songs or CDs I should add to my collection?