When I was little, my sister and I used to act out the birth of little baby Jesus. There were two roles to play that we relentlessly fought over, Mary - the worst, and the Angel of the Lord - the best. Mary sat next to stuffed animals and a doll's crib wearing a blue pillow case over her head and basically did nothing (unfortunately, as the little sister, I usually played Mary). The Angel had all of the fun, and got to run halfway up the stairs in my parents' basement and complete a move that could only be described as a semi-gymnastical half-leap. The best part of this little scene that we created and recreated over and over again was the soundtrack. It was all set to Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton's Christmas classic, Once Upon a Christmas. The song features an amazing crescendo of hosannas that end with a timpani roll and cymbal crash. At this climactic moment in the song, the Angel ran up the stairs, and took all of the glory.
In my family, Christmas is about music. We carol around the piano, and not just to be ironic. Sorry Mary and baby Jesus, you play second banana to Christmas tunes. I love all Christmas music. Religious, instrumental, secular, sell-out, cheesy, classic, humorous. It all works for me. I'm one of those jerky people who is happy when the radio stations I don't normally listen to go Christmas mid-November. What I don't understand is the number of people who don't agree with me.
Now, it's no secret that I love music I have history with and music that transports me to another time. Christmas music is the ultimate vehicle for tours of nostalgia. Allan Sherman's 12 Gifts of Christmas reminds me of a time when I appreciated seriously silly humor. Mary's Little Boy Child reminds me of the one Christmas pageant where I wasn't dressed as cattle. The Oakridge Boys' It's Christmas Time Once Again reminds me of eating Cream of Wheat for breakfast on snowy Saturday mornings. Mariah Carey's All I Want for Christmas is You reminds me of good times spent dancing with my dorm mates. And John Lennon's Happy Christmas reminds me that I'm a mushy idealist, and that's okay.
There is a fair amount of awful Christmas music, don't get me wrong (check out tomorrow's post). But, when you think about what Christmas music can mean to people, it's understandable why it seems to be absolutely everywhere earlier and earlier every year. We all have silly and stupid stories from our childhood (and probably some just as stupid stories from more recent happy times) that we associate with the songs of the season. The holiday season is such a universal experience of hope, love and innocence. Who wouldn't be anxious to remember the time of year that for most of us, represents . . . good?
Tomorrow, I'll be dropping the best and worst of Christmas. Happy Christmas Eve Eve!