Since I haven’t posted in awhile, and since it’s the holiday time of year, I decided to post something festive. Maybe it’s that I had both the teenager and the baby with me for the last few days and the baby is conscious of presents and fun. Maybe it’s that I’m getting older, but I seemed to have been craving Christmas music lately. So I decided to post my favorite holiday music for you. Keep in mind, this list is not set in stone and could change by tomorrow, but it’s mine and I love it.
10. Blue Christmas as sung by Bruce Springsteen
This is a recent addition to the list. By that I mean, it’s only a few years old. I’m not a huge Elvis Presley fan but one of my favorite songs of his is “Blue Christmas.” Back in 2010, Springsteen and the E Street Band played a show in Asbury Park, New Jersey that was taped. It was to promote his re-release of 1978’s Darkness on the Edge of Town and new album of previously unfinished and unreleased tracks from that era The Promise. The show featured only tracks that appeared on The Promise. Except for this song. I love the way Springsteen arranged it and the general atmosphere of the performance. Also of note, it would be the last “live” recording of Clarence Clemons with the band. He died the following June.
9. Happy Christmas (The War is Over) by John Lennon
Let’s call this one my Artsy Fartsy entry. I don’t know the words, it’s not on my iPod, but I still know it and like it. And it’s John Lennon. Come on.
8. Frosty the Snowman as sung by Jimmy Durante
I wouldn’t have even thought of this if not for a recent trip to the grocery store where this was playing. We grew up watching these specials and sometimes, the versions from those specials are what sticks. That’s the case here. Besides, it friggin’ Durante!
7. Jingle Bell Rock as performed by Hall and Oates
I love Hall and Oates. There. I said it. “Maneater.” “Your Kiss is on My List.” Egads, need I say more?! This song, along with its tongue-in-cheek hokey video, was a part of childhood I always loved. And I just like the song, too.
6. Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer by Gene Autry
Look, if you grew up with parents who came from the 1950s or 1960s, you had this song played every Christmas. Growing up, the Gene Autry original was my least favorite version. Now, it’s the version. Well, maybe except for…
5. Silver Bells as performed by The Chipmunks
Christmas with the Chipmunks was the Christmas album in my household growing up. I loved it. “Rudolph” and “Frosty” and so many others were done in that madcap Chipmunks way with Dave Seville yelling constantly at poor Alvin. It was my life, only instead of Dave it was my parents and instead of Alvin, it was me. “Silver Bells” was a rare exception. It’s sung by Dave Seville and is a little sad. As a kid, I liked it but it was…well…quiet. Now, it’s the only version of “Silver Bells” I hear in my head.
4. Christmas in Hollis by Run D.M.C.
If you were growing up in the 1980s, and you were open to rap, you love this song. The video is even better. I remember my parents being…shocked? upset? amused?…that I liked this song and probably thought it was just a phase. Yeah, well, guess who rapped it to a 1-year-old the other day? That’s right. This guy!
3. Santa Claus is Coming to Town as performed by Bruce Springsteen
I love the song “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” I loved the stop-motion animated special. I did not love the Springsteen version. Until recent years. The video shown is good, but the original recording from 1978 (I think, maybe ’81?) is where it’s at. The verse after the sax solo shows a reckless abandon and joy that is pure Springsteen and pure rock n roll. It’s a fun song, okay?
2. All I Want For Christmas is You by Mariah Carey
Yes, I love this song this much. I am not ashamed. It’s a damn good song. I like the music. I love Carey’s vocals. It’s a song that makes me happy. So there.
1. The Chipmunk Song by Alvin and the Chipmunks
This is Christmas to me. This is my favorite song on Christmas with the Chipmunks. It is my favorite Christmas song, period. It made me laugh when I was a kid. I could relate to it. It was just fun. And it still makes me smile. Love it!
Honorable mention goes to “Must Be Santa,” a song I never heard recorded but loved to sing in elementary school.
For me, Christmas isn’t a religious holiday. It’s a day (or time period) to spend with family and friends, to be together, perhaps exchange gifts, eat, and have fun. And enjoy some music. So have a happy Christmas, if you celebrate. If you don’t, go be with people you love, eat, and sing some songs anyway. We could all use a little more of that, right?
I love Facebook and Twitter. I love to see what writers and celebrities I’m into are doing. I love to see what old friends from past lives are doing. I love to see what colleagues in the world of writing are doing. I love to see what my close friends, whom I never get to see enough of, are doing. But I abhor that this time of year all the people, many of whom I respect–if not outright love–who feel the need to verbally attack people who are, for the most part, trying to keep America…well…America. These people–again, whom I respect, like, and sometimes even love–seem to feel that saying “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” is somehow un-American. This is very disconcerting to me. You see, because of the 1st Amendment of the United States Constitution, the United States has no national religion.
Go back and reread that.
Yeah, the United States has no national religion, which means it’s not a Christian Nation, as many would like to believe. But it also means it’s not a Hindu Nation, Islamic Nation, Atheistic Nation, or any other kind of religious (or lack thereof) nation. There is no “War Against Christmas” as Fox News would have you believe.
I could go into the facts about how Christianity co-opted an already established, popular Pagan holiday to celebrate its King Of Kings, but the Believers wouldn’t listen. And I can’t speak for Richard Dawkins, the late Christopher Hitchens, or any other well-known Atheist about Christmas, but I know that for me, this time of year is marked by several holidays, some Christian and some not, and why shouldn’t we, in the United States of America, be able to adapt said holidays for our own uses? Does it matter that I celebrate Christmas but don’t believe that Christ was God’s son? Isn’t it enough to believe in the things that Christ is said to have said, which is basically, “Treat each other well”? Why can’t I wish my multi-cultural friends “Happy Holidays” and not feel ashamed? I wouldn’t presume to call a woman I’ve just met “Mrs.” or “Miss,” it’s “Ms.” In other words, saying “Happy Holidays” is a simple act of courtesy.
Notice I’m not trying to convince you of my beliefs, nor am I undermining yours. Notice that I’m not shoving my choice of holidays down your throat? Most of the people who post things like, “I’m gonna say ‘Merry Christmas’ not ‘Happy Holidays’ ’cause I’m Amurrican!” fail to notice that this country was founded on the beliefs that everyone should be able to come here and celebrate their own beliefs. It’s as insane to me as the people who say, “This is America and we speak English!” Tell that to the Sioux and Wampanoag and all the other Native Americans who were displaced and stolen from.
I don’t want to ruin your Christmas, but all I want is for you to consider my Christmas, and my friends’ Chanukah, and Kwanza, and other holidays. It’s wonderful that you have faith–I wish I did–but I don’t see why you need to be so damn militant about it. We’ve all seen what happens when people try to force their beliefs on others, and it’s never pretty. Just ask Holocaust survivors, and 9/11 survivors.
Happy holidays, friends. I truly mean it.