Cover of O Holy Night
My mother called me a Scrooge (mostly in jest) earlier today. I commented that I’d soon be able to go back to listening to my favourite radio station. I always switch stations the week of Thanksgiving because that’s when this particular station starts playing Christmas music 24/7. And while I certainly enjoy the occasional Christmas song (I like how the station I switch to tends to play three or four Christmas songs at the top of every hour before returning to their regular schedule of “playing everything”), there are just so many renditions of “Jingle Bells,” “Winter Wonderland,” and “O Holy Night” I can listen to before it just gets tiresome.
However, my mother’s comment (and she’s not the first to make this comment to me) got me thinking. There are Christmas songs that I absolutely love and am glad to hear a few times throughout this time of year. So without further ado, I offer you my favourite Christmas songs and why I love them.
“Christmas Shoes” is a relatively new Christmas song. And while I know plenty of people who dislike it because it’s not very musically interesting and horribly sentimental (I’ve heard the phrase “the emotional equivalent of a sledgehammer blow” used), I absolutely love it. This is mainly because it deals with some topics near and dear to me. And the fact that the song is told from a certain perspective — one most of us don’t consider — earns it points to. To me, this is a song that’s not only about Christmas, but how a little boy chooses to face a tragedy he’s powerless against during the Christmas season. It’s about mourning, coping with loss, and showing fierce love through it all.
“Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” is just a fun little piece that came out several years ago. It’s silly and it’s fun, and it just makes me laugh. Though I will note that this is one that I might get tired of in a few more years.
“I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” is another fun little piece, and it’s another chance to see part of the whole Christmas experience through the eyes of a child. I think what also endears this song to me is the fact that I’ve always assumed that “Santa Claus” is really the boy’s father dressed up as Santa. Which means that the “scandalous” act he caught his mother in is nothing more than his parents engaging in a little fun while Dad prepares to do the “Santa act.” In fact, I often imagine the little boy eventually “telling on Mommy” and his parents looking at each other with a puzzled look that says, “Oh dear, how are we going to navigate through this one?”
“God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” by Trans-Siberian Orchestra is one of the most phenomenal pieces of Christmas music released in the past fifteen years, in my opinion. The hymn is a good one, and the way TSO mixed it with “Carol of the Bells” (another fantastic piece in its own right) was just phenomenal. That fusion makes this song stand above most remakes of most classic Christmas songs, in my opinion.
“I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” is another beautiful song that tries to both show the contrast between the peaceful message of Christmas with the reality we live in and that the message is ultimately stronger. It’s a song that attempts to capture the “hope in darkness” that Christmas is supposed to be all about. And for that, I think it’s worth a thousand renditions of “Away in the Manger.”
“O Holy Night” is probably one of my all time favourite Christmas songs, and yet it’s one of the songs that I usually dislike hearing on the radio. This is because to me, my cousin’s annual (though I’m not sure she does it every year any more) solo of this song during church defines my expectations for this song. Sandra has a good voice, and it’s pretty well fit for this song. And the way that she alters the volume of her voice throughout the song makes it truly beautiful. And there’s just something about hearing a soprano belting out a high-pitched, vibrant “fall on your knees” that fills you with a desire to fall on your knees. To be frank, this is a powerful song that seems to be turned into a mere “performance” by most of the ready-for-radio renditions I’ve heard.
Of course, in honor of Yule, I have yet to find a song that beats “Fearless and Fine” by Castalia.