Today I’m thinking about Christmas Music.
I remember learning the old hymns in school – We Three Kings, O Come O Come Emanuel, O Little Town of Bethlehem, and so on. But at home, I vividly remember Bing Crosby and Andy Williams, Julie Andrews and Mitch Miller singing all kinds of Christmas tunes.
Mele Kalikimaka makes me think of my father. The Bing Crosby Merry Christmas album was released in 1955. Hawaii became a state in 1959, at which point I was nearly 6 years old and I understood how Christmas worked. At Christmas there would be a lot of visiting and parties. At Christmas there would be lots of special food: pierogi for Christmas Eve dinner and cookie baking with my Aunt who lived downstairs from us. Mele Kalikimaka is one of my very favorite Christmas songs.
It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas makes me think of those early Christmas’ and the cold, snowy weather, fun with the neighbors in the stairwell, hunting for “the perfect” Christmas tree. The holly that will be on your own front door is a symbol that means home and comfort and Christmas spirit to me. I try to put some form of holly on my front door every year.
The Little Drummer Boy became a big hit with a 1958 recording by the Harry Simeone Chorale. My first grade class ‘sang’ it in the Christmas pageant. Not particularly well as I recall, but I’m sure there were dozens of beaming parents that evening. I can’t hear this song without remembering that pageant. Another popular song that year was I’m Getting Nothing For Christmas which I was hand selected by some nun to be one of the 2 girl singers for this special number. What do I remember of this song? Besides wondering how I got selected to sing (Is it possible that all 1st graders sound terrible?) There were 4 of us singing. We all forgot the words. I’m sure chaos erupted.
Probably Gene Autrey’s most famous song is Rudolph but I prefer Here Comes Santa Claus. In Santa Here Comes Santa Claus we learn that “Santa knows that we’re God’s children” and suddenly the gifts that are given begin to take on a deeper meaning. I try my best to “fill my heart with Christmas cheer” every year.
O Holy Night can bring me to my knees when it’s really sung with a certain intensity of feeling. I didn’t used to care for this song because I found it long and slow moving until I really listened to the words.
Kenny Rogers does a version of Mary Did You Know that makes me cry. Really cry. Listen to it. (I apologize in advance for some of the images, which are a little odd.)
Christmas music. One of my favorite things.