I love Christmas music. There’s just something about the phrase “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas…” that makes me feel all warm and cozy inside, like a thick pair of socks on cold feet or a good, long hug from Brent after a rough day.
I can trace the introduction to most of my favorite songs to my mother’s record/CD collection. To this day, I still love hearing the close harmony in the Carpenters’ version of “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear.” And I know all of the words to “Mele Kalikimaka” and “Christmas in Killarney,” thanks to Bing Crosby’s White Christmas. These songs just make me happy.
Of course, not all Christmas songs are great. In fact, some are pretty annoying. Many people—especially ones with good taste in music—cringe when they hear the song “Christmas Shoes.” You know the one I’m talking about: the kid goes into the store to buy his dying mom shoes so she’ll look beautiful when she meets Jesus. I don’t want to sound heartless, but…shoes? Who thinks of shoes when they’re 1) wanting to look beautiful, and 2) expecting to meet Jesus. How about a cute top or an expensive mascara? I mean Jesus just wore sandals, right? I don’t think He was a shoe-person, any more than Moses was a sweater guy and Abraham had a thing for scarves.
Not being a professional musician, I can only guess but sometimes it seems like recording artists are forced into making a Christmas album–possibly at gunpoint–and they panic. They have to write new songs and reinvent old ones. So they take perfectly good Christmas songs and completely ruin them. Case in point: Michael Buble’s version of “Santa Baby.” In the more famous version sung by Eartha Kitt, she kind of flirts with Santa. She tells him all of the presents she wants even though she’s obviously been fairly naughty. It’s not my favorite but it’s a classic. When Michael sings it, he changes all of the words and it’s obnoxious. He calls Santa pally and poppy. What a cheeseball.
Another weird rendition of a flirty song is “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” sung by Zooey Deschanel and Leon Redbone (the guy who sings the jingle for the laundry detergent ALL). I know they got together for this duet because they both have roles in the movie Elf—she plays Jovie and he plays Leon the Snowman. When I heard their version this year, I couldn’t help but think Leon was going to slip Zooey a rufie. It’s a creepy combo.
I’ve noticed some patterns on my list of Top Ten Christmas Songs. For instance, I really like a lot of songs with questions in their titles: “Mary, Did You Know?” and “What Child is this?” and “Do You Hear What I Hear?” All Winners. I’m not sure why these are among my favorites, but here’s a thought: the story of Jesus’ birth brings up a lot of questions. Why did God wait thousands of years before He sent His Son? What did Mary expect would happen? What kind of baby was Jesus? Was He prone to fussiness? Did he sleep through the night early? The genius of the story is that it reflects our lives—starry night, childbirth, the government demanding unrealistic things from its citizens—but it also has an element of the supernatural. The band of angels and exotic wise men catch our attention. It’s beautiful and surprising and amazing. All it’s missing is a little pa-rum-pum-pum-pum. Oh yeah, thank you, little drummer boy!