I've been thinking about Christmas. It's a holiday rich in traditions and celebration, and like most other people I love it. I love the music. I love to plan, select, make, wrap and give gifts. I love the smells of gingerbread and pine. And I love to quietly stare at a nativity scene in the glow of Christmas tree lights and imagine the miraculous night the Savior was born. This leads to considering His divine mission and life, and how He truly was the greatest gift ever given.
And now that I'm the Mom around here I've been thinking about how I want to lead my family in celebrating Christmas - what traditions should we continue or begin? How can we enjoy the magic of the season while keeping our thoughts on Christ? I've already decided my kids will always know Santa isn't real. We can still enjoy the legend but there's another, more important, real person who loves children that I prefer to focus on. Beyond that, I'm still thinking about how we want to celebrate it as a family.
So in December there will be a "Making Christmas" series here on DMTotW, touching on different aspects of seasonal celebration. I beg you to chime in, sharing your own thoughts, ideas, activities and hopes on each topic. I'm curious what other people do, and looking for ideas to steal. So please, if you read, post.
Making Christmas: Music
Christmas is a multisensory experience. It's the combinations of sensory input that make it so enjoyable for most of us. "Silent Night" plus hot cocoa? Nice. How about "Oh Come All Ye Faithful" in candlelight outside in the cold?
My favorite lite rock station in Denver plays continuous Christmas music from Thanksgiving until Christmas, and amazingly I don't get sick of it (though there are a few songs that make me change stations, like Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree!) It made my commute so fun for that month. When we lived in Boulder I used to go to Barnes & Noble and listen to lots and lots of holiday CD's, choosing one each year to add to my collection. Christmas is the one time I really badly wish I had a 5-disc CD player. I get tired of each cd fast, but if they were all on shuffle it would be a festive acoustic delight. A few years ago I downloaded a bunch of good holiday songs from iTunes and made a Christmas mix of my favorites. Since then I revise the mix each year, keeping the best and adding new ones.
Here are the Christmas CD's I have:
A New Age Christmas - Carol of the Drums
A Windham Hill Collection - A Celtic Christmas
Harry Connick, Jr. - When My Heart Finds Christmas
Jake White - Christmas
James Taylor - At Christmas
Jim Brickman - Peace
Loreena McKennett - A Winter Garden
Maybe This Christmas (compilation)
Rankin Sisters - Do You Hear...
The Chieftans - The Bells of Dublin
The Roches - We Three Kings
Voice Male - Jingles 2
And here are the songs on my mix this year:
Deck the Halls - Aly & AJ
Who Comes this Night - James Taylor
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer - Jack Johnson
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen - Barenaked Ladies & Sarah McLachlan
I Pray on Christmas - Harry Connick, Jr.
Go Tell it On the Mountain - James Taylor
The First Noel - Leigh Nash
Hark! The Herald Angels Sing - Jim Brickman
Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring - BYU Men's Chorus
Wassail Song - Liz Story
Baby, It's Cold Outside - James Taylor & Natalie Cole
For Unto Us a Child is Born - The Roches
Carol of the Bells - Voice Male
Do You Hear What I Hear - Rankin Sisters
Joy to the World - Aly & AJ
O Holy Night - Tracy Chapman
Song for a Winter's Night - Sarah McLachlan
My favorite Christmas hymn in the church hymnbook is "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day." (Though the version on the church website could stand a little jazzing up.) I love the tune's rise and fall but even more is that I love how the words are in first person. It's a personal internal journey in 5 short verses. And I've always loved the phrase, "A voice, a chime, a chant sublime..." in the last verse. I just love it.
So, what are your favorite holiday CD's and songs? What do you recommend I add to my collection this year? Any other thoughts about holiday music? (Like, Caroling: is it still done?)