Tuesday, November 10, 2009

We Need A Little Christmas - Or Do We?

So when is it okay to start listening to Christmas music? When I was a kid, we had a hard fast rule at our house: No Christmas music until the day after Thanksgiving. On that Friday, we’d get out the Christmas albums. Our stereo system had a record player that let us stack up five records at a time. One by one, they would drop and play. I can still hear the sound of the needle in the groove of a record as it rotated on the turntable: that rhythmic circular-sounding swoosh in between songs, and even during songs if you were sitting close enough. After I was married and had a family, my father recorded some of our Christmas albums for me on a cassette tape. You could hear that record player sound on the tape. Very nostalgic. Now, of course, we no longer have the means to play a cassette tape or a record.

The Christmas music rule was my mother’s idea, and she was backed up by my sister. I would have listened to Christmas music year round. I sang Christmas carols year round. I drove my sister crazy.

My son, Jeff, is the same way. He loves Christmas music. One year, he found a radio station that started playing “All Christmas music, all the time” the day after Labor Day. He listened to it in the car, while doing his homework, in his bed at night before going to sleep, and he’d set his alarm to wake up to it. He must have been the only one listening though, because it mysteriously went off the air by mid-October.

Jeff took piano lessons for years. He loved it when fall came because that’s when the teacher would start him on Christmas music. He quit piano lessons a few years ago when he got really busy in high school. Now he only touches the piano between September and December. And he only plays Christmas songs. Really. That’s it.

Jeff’s been checking the radio stations every day since Halloween.

Once they begin playing Christmas music on the radio, I admit that I listen, even if it’s still pretty early on, but I don’t always like what I hear. Unfortunately, what they play on the radio is often pretty cheesy stuff. For instance, there’s The Christmas Shoes by a group called (of all confusing things) New Song. Uggghh. There’s another one that refers to Jesus as a homeless person. It’s pretty bad. We always quickly change the station as soon as we can “name that tune.” There’s one called Santa Mouse that they play once in a while that is so ridiculous that we actually listen to it. There’s a version of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer that my daughter and I laugh and laugh about. “Rudolph mit your nose so bright, von’t you guide mein sleigh tonight?” Only the guy sings it with an Irish accent. It’s hilarious.

I’m a real traditionalist. Give me the old crooners like Bing Crosby and Perry Como. Karen Carpenter? Yes. And let’s stick to real Christmas songs that have been around for decades. All of the Christmas carols of course, and things like I’ll be Home for Christmas, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, Jingle Bells, and Sleigh Ride are all great. I don’t care for most of the pop artist Christmas recordings, like “Last Christmas I gave you my heart. The very next day you gave it away.” Please. That is not a Christmas song. It’s a pop love song that takes place at Christmas time. If pop artists want to record themselves singing real Christmas songs and they don’t mess with them too much, that’s okay. For example, I absolutely love Bruce Springsteen and his E Street Band doing Santa Claus is Coming to Town. That’s a classic.

Yesterday afternoon Jeff was out running an errand in the car. My cell phone rang. I answered it and immediately heard the silky smooth tones of Andy Williams singing Silver Bells. It’s started.

Tis the season! According to some people, anyway.


  1. YES YES YES!!! I love this post sister gassman! You are the best!

  2. Too great! My favorite was "Chestnuts roasting" when sister Anderson and sister Hansen sang it at a ward Christmas party.

  3. Melinda, I think Shannon's self-imposed rule about listening to Christmas is the day after Halloween. She sounds a lot like Jeff about listening to Christmas music. You should try the Rockapella Christmas CD, though--there's some great stuff on it.

  4. I used to follow the after Thanksgiving rule, but the older I get the less I care about that. Give me "Oh Holy Night" as early as possible.