I’ve never been religious, but I find all that the season represents appealing. The symbol of the child in the manger is a reminder to be grateful for all that we have. Coming as it does before the beginning of the New Year, there’s hope that we can all aspire to something more in the next twelve months. People are generally nicer to each other at the holidays… when they aren’t beating each other senseless over the last pee-on-me-Elmo-doll at Wal-Mart.
The music of Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and other traditions provides the soundtrack for our collective sense that the world is a beautiful, peace-filled, snow-dappled place. Even when the dismal 24-hour news cycle and a thermometer that barely reaches double digits try to dissuade us.
While I work, I listen to the all-holiday music-all-day channel on the radio. At home, I have the glorified I-Pod doing hard time as my smartphone and CDs. From the first strains of the Bing Crosby/Carol Richards version of Silver Bells to the Hanukkah Song, versions one through four and Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer. I love it all. I have even… gasp… purchased the entire Justin Bieber Christmas album, just so I could listen to his duet of All I want for Christmas is You with Mariah Carey.
Don’t judge me. It’s the best version. And if lovin’ hokey holiday music is wrong. I don’t wanna to be right.
My tastes run to the unusual, the comic and the sentimental, but as holiday music goes, there truly is something for everyone. Santa Claus has gone to town, to the trenches, to Nascar and to the Chipmunks. The Man with the Bag has gone crazy, looked a lot like daddy and stole somebody’s girlfriend. And of course, he also brought my baby back to me, because Boogie Woogie Santa Claus is The Man with all the Toys.
And that’s only Santa. Don’t even get me started with Frosty and Rudolph.
By December 10th or so, I’m tired of the radio. They play the equivalent of Top 40 holiday favorites and there’s so much more that a true aficionado of the genre can find to appreciate. Still, my favorite holiday song, hands down, is Feliz Navidad sung by Jose Feliciano. This is closely followed by Arbolito by Tish Hinojosa, any rendering of The Coventry Carol and a calypso version of Tiny Little Baby Born in Bethlehem I can’t find in a downloadable recording.
The truly wonderful thing is, unlike our credit card limits and Season Five of Shameless, the music never ends. Every year, there’s newly written and recorded material available, and some musician, actor or reality television star you could never imagine recording a holiday song… does it.
Right at this very moment, in some unknown corner of Middle America, there’s a sticky, ill-tempered toddler playing with pee-on-me-Elmo, who twenty years from now will be crooning about Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.
And I will probably buy the recording.