My season of celebrating Christmas has begun. This year I thought it would be fun to document exactly how I usually get into the spirit of the season, through music, movies, and rituals. I’ll update this post as I go.
Friday, November 23
- Listened: Season’s Greetings by Perry Como, Christmas Party by She & Him, Bing Crosby Sings Christmas Songs by Bing Crosby, At Christmas by James Taylor
Saturday, November 24
- Listened: Let It Snow, Baby… Let It Reindeer by Relient K, Christmas Songs by Jars of Clay, A Jolly Christmas from Frank Sinatra by Frank Sinatra, Christmas radio
- Watched: Grumpy Old Men
- Did: put up decorations at my parents’ place
Sunday, November 25
- Listened: Christmas with the Rat Pack, Songs for Christmas by Sufjan Stevens, Under the Mistletoe by Justin Bieber, Christmas radio
- Watched: Elf (first 30 minutes)
- Did: put up decorations in our apartment
Monday, November 26
- Listened: Songs for the Season by Ingrid Michaelson, Christmas is Here! by Pentatonix
- Watched: A Charlie Brown Christmas, remainder of Elf
- Did: enjoyed the first Chicagoland blizzard of the season, first ceremonial snow-scraping of the cars
Tuesday, November 27
- Listened: Christmas Portrait by The Carpenters, Snow Globe by Matt Wertz, Come On, Ring Those Bells by Evie, The Hotel Café Presents Winter Songs
Wednesday, November 28
- Listened: “All I Need Is Love” by Cee-Lo Green & The Muppets, Light of the Stable by Emmylou Harris, Merry Christmas Good Night by Morning And Night Collective.
- Watched: Holiday Inn
Thursday, November 29
- Listened: Blood Oranges in the Snow by Over the Rhine, Merry Christmas Good Night by the Morning And Night Collective
- Watched: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Friday, November 30
- Listened: Christmas with Johnny Cash by Johnny Cash, Ella Wishes You A Swinging Christmas by Ella Fitzgerald
Sunday, December 2
- Listened: Christmas Favorites by Nat King Cole
Tuesday, December 4
- Watched: The Family Stone
Friday, December 7
- Listened: Home for Christmas by Hall & Oates, Songs for the Season by Ingrid Michaelson
Sunday, December 9
- Listened: Jingle All the Way by Bela Fleck & The Flecktones, Advent Christmas EP by Future of Forestry, “Mittens” by Carly Rae Jepsen, Stan Boreson Fractures Christmas by Stan Boreson
Monday, December 10
- Listened: Advent Christmas EP Vol. 2 by Future of Forestry
Thursday, December 13
- Listened: Christmas Collection, Volume One by Sleeping At Last
Friday, December 14
- Listened: Oh For Joy by David Crowder Band, Pretty Paper by Willie Nelson
Sunday, December 16
- Listened: Christmas Party by She & Him, Snowfall by Tony Bennett, Songs for the Season by Ingrid Michaelson, The Songs The Season Brings by Beta Radio, Ultimate Christmas Collection by The Jackson 5
As I near the end of my annual Christmas music binge, a few songs have stuck out. Check them out while the mood is right and the spirit’s up:
“Mvmt II: Begin and Never Cease” by The Oh Hellos, The Oh Hellos Family Christmas Album. You really ought to listen through the whole (short) album in one go, which is like one long medley, but the second movement’s ecstatic exuberance echoes Mumford & Sons mixed with Anathallo.
“Snow” by Sleeping At Last, Christmas Collection. O’Neal explains on a recent episodes of his podcast that it’s heavily inspired by It’s A Wonderful Life but also about the concept of home during the holidays.
“Silent Night” by Rosie Thomas, A Very Rosie Christmas. Rosie’s bouncy original “Why Can’t It Be Christmastime All Year” is always a fun listen, but don’t sleep on the rest of the album’s dreamy, riverine covers like this one. Great for a cozy nights staring at a twinkling Christmas tree.
“All I Need Is Love” by CeeLo Green & The Muppets. For successfully turning “Mahna Mahna” into a Christmas song.
“First Snowfall” by Over the Rhine, Blood Oranges in the Snow. Leave it to OTR to capture a different kind of Christmas, ramshackle and real, far from the Norman Rockwell scenes traditional Christmas songs paint.
“12 Days of Christmas” by Relient K, Let It Snow, Baby… Let It Reindeer. There aren’t a lot of great versions of this song because it’s such a pain to make 12 repetitive verses interesting. But Relient K pulls it off with verve.
It’s simple: no Christmas music until December. That’s my rule. So every year after Thanksgiving ends and the Advent season approaches, I’m thinking about three things: snow, eggnog, and what music will help me enjoy them. Some songs here are old classics, others modern takes. Heard as a whole, they’re but a slice of my Advent aural feast. (I’ll be updating as I hear more and better Christmas music – let me know your favorites in the comments.)
“Why Can’t It Be Christmas All Year?” by Rosie Thomas, A Very Rosie Christmas
“Darlin’ (Christmas Is Coming)” by Over the Rhine, Snow Angels
“Sleigh Ride” by She & Him, A Very She & Him Christmas
“Only At Christmas Time” by Sufjan Stevens, Songs for Christmas
“Winter Song” by Sara Bareilles & Ingrid Michaelson, Hotel Cafe Presents
“Frosty The Snowman” by The Ronettes, A Christmas Gift for You
“Joy to the World” by Future of Forestry, Advent Christmas EP: Vol. 2
“Little Drummer Boy” by Bob Dylan, Christmas In The Heart
“Let It Snow!” by Dean Martin, Christmas With the Rat Pack
“I Celebrate The Day” by Relient K, Let It Snow, Baby…Let It Reindeer
“Come Thou Fount” by Sufjan Stevens, Songs for Christmas: Vol. 2
“O Holy Night” by Sleeping At Last, Christmas Collection 2011
“Marshmallow World” by Darlene Love, A Christmas Gift for You
“Merry Christmas, Here’s To Many More” by Relient K, Let It Snow, Baby…
“Snowed In With You” by Over the Rhine, Snow Angels
“White Christmas” by Bing Crosby, Bing Crosby Christmas
“Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” by Frank Sinatra, Christmas With the Rat Pack