When I think of Christmas, so many memories come to mind...
My grandmother, Jane, made her special egg nog every year, laced with enough bourbon to make even the heavy-weights light headed after a few sips. Since her passing, my little sister has taken the reins and stirs it up every year.
Then, there was the year my mom wanted to be incredibly sneaky and number the packages instead of putting names on them. It went so well the first year that she did it the next. When it came time to open the presents, the list she had made of which gifts belonged to which person had vanished. We spent the day opening the wrong gifts. The numbered gifts did not return the next year or ever again.
One very special Christmas Eve, the first I spent with my husband, Steve, I had a wonderful gift under my tree. We sat down in front of the tree to exchange gifts, just the white tree lights illuminating the room. He opened his gift and put it to the side. I was a little put off that he rushed through it, but then he handed me a shirt sized wrapped box. I opened it to find my very own Green Bay Packers jersey, my favorite team by the way. I lifted it out of the box in a rush of excitement only to find a small black box still in the corner of the larger box. I can't remember who picked up the box, but eventually the ring was being offered between his fingertips. He asked me to be his wife and I said yes. That was ten years ago this Christmas Eve and we are still going strong.
With all these wonderful memories, there is one thing that I have carried with me since my very first Christmas. The music. Sad, joyful, humorous, or beautiful, I have kept it in my heart every year and celebrated the season through each melody.
I thought maybe you might enjoy some of the songs I have loved throughout the years. I loaded up YouTube and went searching for my favorites to include here.
First, let's get the tear-jerkers out of the way. “Christmas Shoes” by Bob Carlisle gets me every time. Such a moving message about a young boy buying a pair of shoes for his dying mother. The imagery of the lyrics along with the soulful melody have me in tears every time I hear it.
Then there is “Same Old Lang Syne” by Dan Fogelberg. It's a sweet song about old lovers meeting at the grocery store on New Year's Eve and get caught up. I'm not sure why this gets me so much, but I just love the chorus and always sing it out when it comes on the radio.
We drank a toast to innocence
We drank a toast to now
And tried to reach beyond the emptiness
But neither one knew how
Now on to some of the more traditional favorites. Since the first time I heard it in church as a child, I have loved the beauty and elegance of “O, Holy Night”. I sang it constantly, in the shower and in my room, I'm sure my family was sick of it. My goal once I reached high school was to sing it as a soloist in the annual Christmas concert. Long story short, I didn't sing the solo. All the choirs backed up the soloist and I remember the tears that fell from my eyes as one of my friends sang it so beautifully. I was happy and heartbroken. Happy that it was a friend and she sung it perfectly, but still heartbroken because it wasn't me. Maybe one of these days I'll get a chance to record it and you'll hear what I've been practicing years for.
My favorite song from my all-time favorite Christmas movie, “White Christmas”, is “Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep”. Bing Crosby crooning this song makes me remember all the blessings I have recieved and I'm so grateful for all the joy I have in my life.
Now, on to all the fun ones. I'm a big fan of Bob Rivers. He seems to have plethora of hilarity at Christmas time. “The Twelve Pains of Christmas” is one I'm sure most of us have heard every holiday season and on many levels we can all relate to.
Bob also has his own holiday public service announcement in the form of “Carol of the Bartenders”. This don't drink and drive song is funny while also being informative about holiday drinking consequences.
The next group has become a recent favorite. “Straight, No Chaser” was an A cappella group from Indiana. There original video from the 90's went viral on YouTube several years ago. Now the group has reunited and is selling out concerts all over the world with their unique and quirky sound. Their version of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” was how they caught my eye and I'm so glad they did.
Last but not least is the song about the questions we ask of Mary, the mother of Jesus. “Mary, Did You Know?” is this catholic girl's favorite song about the ultimate mother and her relationship with her son. There are several versions of this song, but my favorite is by Clay Aiken.
Thank you all for reading and hopefully enjoying some of the songs. I wish you all a happy and joyous holiday season.
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