Confession. I own more Christmas music on CD, tape, and vinyl than any other genre. Performers range from Canadian Brass to Boston Pops; from Bing Crosby to David Bowie. Chanticleer rests comfortably next to Reba McEntire who keeps company with Barbra Streisand. Spiritual music and contemporary tunes are played with equal gusto and joy. The Hallelujah Chorus competes with Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer without missing a beat.
Christmas TV Specials
As a child of the 1950’s, I was raised on Christmas TV specials with the likes of Perry Como, Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Mitch Miller and Lawrence Welk. Perry was known for Ave Maria. Bing, of course, for White Christmas. Bob Hope and his wife would sing Silver Bells and Mitch Miller and the Band would do Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.
I have a preference for the popular music of the 1940s and 1950s, especially Irving Berlin and Mel Tormé, In terms of sacred music, Silent Night and Oh, Little Town of Bethlehem are at the top of my list. Gospel songs include This Little Light of Mine and Long Time Ago in Bethlehem.
Make a Joyful Noise
I was raised in a German-American family. We celebrated Christmas Eve and opened our gifts after Santa Claus announced his departure by setting the needle on the record player that had an old 78 RPM of Madam Schumann-Heink singing Stille Nacht.
For me, the Season has its best expression in the breadth of musical styles. I can bring myself to tears listening to Kenny Rogers ask Mary, Did You Know? I can remember 10 out of 12 days of Christmas, and always join in on Five Golden Rings! Judy Garland takes me back to St. Louis when she invites me to Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, and I feel my heart soar when I hear the news that Unto Us a Child is Given.
Concerts were performed both in school and in church. As I grew older, the music became more complex. Grade school concerts were accompanied by piano. Junior High School and High School involved band, orchestra, and chorus. Church concerts involved children’s choir and Christmas Eve or Christmas Day services accompanied by full organ.
I was lucky enough to be taken to see The Nutcracker as well as being in the audience for Handel’s Messiah. And each year, I waited for Amal and the Night Visitors, breaking into smiles when the Wise Men would sing, Thank You Kindly.
These days I do more humming than actual singing. I still put the CDs on the CD player and I take out the movies I enjoy and play them in the VCR allowing me to skip the boring parts and watch without interruption. My favorites are White Christmas, Miracle on 34th Street, The Bishop’s Wife, and It’s a Wonderful Life. I went to college in Seneca Falls, NY, the model for Bedford Falls, so that film has a particular warm spot in my heart.
More modern movies such as Home Alone are enjoyable, but not something that I would go out of my way to make sure I saw. Same with Elf. Try as I might, Hallmark formularies just don’t hold my attention for very long. I admit to enjoying Die Hard, especially having grown up in Chicago and experiencing travel in and out of O’Hare in the depths of winter.
I have not felt much Christmas spirit this year. I suspect it has much to do with the continuing pandemic and my own hypervigilance in hopes of avoiding exposure to whichever variant is now emerging. I am going to make sure that I listen to plenty of Christmas music, however, since that never fails to bring me feelings of joy and happy memories.
Thank you for reading my blog, and please accept my wishes for a happy and contented holiday.
If you are looking for last minute gifts, may I recommend my Aging with Finesse series? Buy one or all three for friends and family!