My Favorite Christmas Music


I refuse to engage in any Christmas activities until Thanksgiving is over. But now that December is here, I’m firing up the holiday music! I love to hear about people’s Christmas-music traditions and favorites, so I thought I’d share mine. Shamelessly.

The two albums I can’t do without in December are Mariah Carey’s classic Merry Christmas (the recent sequel wasn’t even close) and Barenaked Ladies’ Barenaked for the Holidays. Yes, I’m serious. In addition to creative takes on Christmas classics and excellent inclusion of Hanukkah songs, BNL’s album boasts my favorite holiday recording of all time, their “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/We Three Kings” featuring Sarah McLachlan. On my second tier are Vince Guaraldi’s A Charlie Brown Christmas – of course – and Hanson’s 1997 masterwork Snowed In, recorded before Taylor’s voice broke. I dare you not to feel Yuletide cheer listening to their “Merry Christmas Baby.”

More recent favorites: Over the Rhine’s Snow Angels (“New Redemption Song” has become a year-round staple) and Pentatonix’ amazing PTXMas. The Hotel Cafe presents Winter Songs has some original songs and unusual variations, including a perfect duet by Sara Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson, which still makes me cry every time I listen to it.

My childhood in the tropics is reflected in my love of Jimmy Buffett’s Christmas Island… and then there’s “Feliz Navidad.” This bilingual classic is tied to one of the craziest stories in my family’s history. Sometime in the 1960s or maybe early 70s, my uncle was running the Delta ticket counter at Miami International Airport when Jose Feliciano tried to board a flight with his seeing-eye dog. My uncle insisted that no animals were allowed on the plane, and when Mr. Feliciano insistently disagreed, a fistfight broke out. Actually, the story goes that my uncle leaped over the counter and started throwing punches, and from what I’ve heard about his temper at the time, it seems plausible. Obviously I don’t condone this behavior AT ALL, but from a distance of 50 years it totally cracks me up. I can’t listen to the cheery song without picturing my uncle and Mr. Feliz Navidad whaling on each other in front of the Delta logo. In my head, it’s like a scene from a Tarantino movie.

Well, no further discussion of music will be exciting after that, but feel free to partake of my Ultimate Holidays Playlist on Spotify. Please share some of your Christmas favorites, especially the less common recordings. I’m always looking for new tunes!

About Brenda W.

Christian. Memphian. Reader. Writer. True blue Tiger fan. Lover of shoes, the ocean, adventure, and McAlister's iced tea. View all posts by Brenda W. →
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5 Responses to My Favorite Christmas Music

  1. I love Mariah Carey’s album, but mine disappeared a long time ago. Sad.

    My current favorite is Idina Menzel’s. Love.

  2. Bethany says:

    I approve of all of these choices! “Snowed In” is still amazing. It’s not Christmas till I’ve heard their “Merry Christmas, Baby”, “At Christmas”, and especially the gorgeous but nonsensical “Christmas Time”. I love this post about it:

    You should look into *NSYNC’s “Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays” album from back in the late ’90s. Christmas pop perfection right there. Oh, and don’t forget Pentatonix’s new Christmas CD, “That’s Christmas to Me”!

  3. Sarah says:

    Have you listened to the new Pentatonix Christmas album? Their Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy is amazing.

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