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December 24, 2002

My favorite Christmas music

We have Christmas album by the Kingston Trio - On The Last Month of the Year. It's one of my wife's favorite albums; her parents were here today, and they said it reminded them of their college years. In any case, the album has a version of "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" with an extra chorus:

Why can't we have Christmas the whole year around?
Why can't we have Christmas the whole year around ..

Clearly this is a a song sung by people who never had kids. By December 24th, a parent of children could be forgiven for throttling anyone who suggests a year-round yule.

It's Christmas Eve in Atlanta, half-way between the 4:30-6:30 children's pageant, and getting on towards the 10:30 carols and midnight service. And strangely, it's the most relaxed I've been this holiday season.

The presents are wrapped. The cookies are baked. The clothes are even laid out for going back to church.

I've never been in a choir, and have no desire to be in one. But this time of year, it's choral settings of music that do most to bring me some peace and calm. Some favorites:

Klezmer Nutcracker is just silly, but fun. I've always been fond of The Nutcracker; here's a version by the Shirim Klezmer Orchestra.

I've always been a sucker for Vince Guaraldi's 1966 recording for A Charlie Brown Christmas. I was born in 1960; watching A Charlie Brown Christmas on CBS was an event I looked forward to every year.

O Come All Ye Faithful: Christmas Carols at King's College, Cambridge is my favorite recording of Christmas carols. It's not strictly acapella - but the only accompaniment is the Chapel's organ. Three of my favorite carols grace this CD - Once in Royal David's City, Ding Dong! Merrily on High, and Holly and the Ivy.

Perhaps my favorite Christmas album is a bit of an odd one: On Yoolis Night by Anonymous 4. It's a setting of medieval works--plainchants, carols, songs, and motets. It's acapella, of course, and the effect is almost hypnotic. I remember being home one Christmas night when the kids were young; the rest of the family was out to the midnight service, and I was home, listening as Christmas crept in.