Darren and I began building our Christmas music collection the first year we were married. For many years, we bought one Christmas CD each season, and we got to take turns picking out the year's album. On my years, we acquired stuff like "The Coolest Christmas", "A Very Special Christmas", and "Christmas with the Stars". I like compilations. When it was Darren's year to pick, we added the likes of Aaron Neville, "Celtic Christmas" and "Christmas with the Judds". One year, a friend gave us Celine Dion's Christmas album, and I threw up in my mouth a little. That is, until I heard "The Prayer", her duet with Andrea Bocelli. That song instantly became one of my lifetime favorites. I doubt I'll ever tire of it, partly because it reminds me of Aidan as a tiny baby. I'd play it over and over, singing in English and a sad excuse for Italian while he snuggled in my arms.
These days, we just cruise iTunes in search of a CD's worth of tunes. This year, I discovered an artist named Ali Matthews and became mesmerized by her silky smooth voice - it's so pure and melodic. Check her out! Her Christmas album is called "Looking for Christmas". I also discovered MercyMe's new Christmas album, "The Christmas Sessions". I went to high school with Bart Millard, the lead singer, but he was a lowly freshman and I was a snobby senior, so I never even knew him. I regret that every time I hear his warm, gravely voice on the radio.
A few years ago, I uploaded all of our versions of "O Holy Night" to iTunes and burned a CD for Darren. It's his favorite song, and I thought it would be really cool for him to have a CD of all its different variatios. I never did figure out if he thought it was cool or not.
This past weekend, I took a wise friends's sage advice (okay, it was Darren) and set aside an hour after the kids went to bed to slow down and just be. With no projects on my schedule (not that there weren't projects to be done - I just wasn't allowed to DO them!), I discovered time to do something I've wanted to do for a long time: I uploaded all of our Christmas CDs. Then I carefully and painstakingly chose a 25-song playlist of the tunes I can't live without each year.
- O Holy Night by John Berry
- Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy by Bing Crosby and David Bowie
- The Prayer by Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli
- Santa Claus is Coming to Town by Bruce Springsteen
- Ave Maria by Andrea Bocelli
- What Sweeter Music by The Cambridge Singers
- Still, Still, Still by The Cambridge Singers
- Have A Holly Jolly Christmas by Burl Ives
- O Holy Night by Point of Grace
- Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer by The Smithereens
- The Friendly Beasts by Garth Brooks
- The Christmas Song by Aaron Neville
- Winter Wonderland by Aretha Franklin
- Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree by MercyMe
- Christmastime is Here from A Charlie Brown Christmas
- Sweet Little Jesus Boy - Natalie Cole
- In the Bleak Midwinter - Ali Matthews
- One Small Child - Ali Matthews
- O Come O Come Emmanuel/What Child is This - Ali Matthews
- Baby It's Cold Outside - Louis Armstrong
- We Wish You A Merry Christmas - Relient K
- Hallelujah Chorus - A Soulful Celebration
- I Saw Three Ships - Sting
- Angels We Have Heard on High - Point of Grace
- The Wexbury Carol - Yo-Yo Ma with Allison Kraus
It's a mix of old and new, tried and true. Still and solemn, rocking and energetic. I love it all, and I love it all mixed up. Music - it's one of my favorite things about Christmas.