Memories, Christmas Memories....they're the sweetest ones I know....
When Thanksgiving ends and the countdown to Christmas begins....my mind goes into holiday overdrive. Where many dread the holiday season, I love everything about it!
Every year, I make the tree-decorating process as fun as possible, complete with Christmas music (or possibly a great holiday-themed movie).
Little holiday knick-knacks adorn the tables, as well as sugar cookie scented candles.
Multi-colored lights around the windows and cheesy Christmas decor hung up on the walls.
Christmas shopping and gift wrapping becomes a sport....a very fun one, at that!
Writing out Christmas cards becomes an all-day event, complete with cute, personalized messages for as many as I can come up with!
I always manage to give a few dollars to the Salvation Army whenever I hear that familiar bell ringing and see the red collection bucket.
Driving around and admiring the lights on homes and decor in front yards makes me light up with glee.
Sharing a smile and 'Happy Holidays' with anyone I encounter/talk to makes me feel all warm inside.
A great night consists of a nice glass of red wine and admiring the lit (and beautifully decorated) tree.
Catching the smile when someone opens up your gift and realizes just how important they are to you.
And last, but certainly not least, the mistletoe carefully hung right by the front door, signaling the world to acknowledge that hugs and kisses are required upon entry.
Yes, I haven't lost that Christmas spirit, even though for many, this holiday is viewed as 'too commercial' or 'all about gifts'. Instead, for me, it's a time to share kindness and joy with those around you (and those you briefly encounter.)
In the spirit of Christmas, I've chosen to share my ten of my favorite Christmas songs....because what holiday season would be complete without them? Let's face it, the familiar notes of Nat King Cole crooning The Christmas Song is enough to fill my heart with more love and warmth than any cup of hot chocolate any day!
1) Nat King Cole - The Christmas Song: The quintessential holiday classic! This song just oozes yuletide cheer with a crooner's feel. Every time this song comes on, it reminds me that it is finally the holiday season. Those opening strings, coupled with that velvety voice....my heart melts.
2) James Taylor - Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas: There is something about James Taylor that is synonymous with warmth and cheer....this song just furthering his image. HYAMLC has always made me tear up ever since I could remember hearing the song for the first time. A song that talks about wishing the best for others during the holidays and reminding us that if the fates allow, we will get to share another holiday season with those we love and care about.
3) Vince Guaraldi Trio (& Cast) - Christmastime is Here: Let's face it....Christmas is not right without watching A Charlie Brown Christmas. And while I could go on & on about the entire soundtrack, this song in particular makes me really think about Christmas. Charlie Brown and his friends truly know how to make me get into the holiday spirit. (And for those who have no clue of what makes this special one of the best....watch it, especially Linus's big speech.)
4) The Carpenters - Merry Christmas, Darling: True, my fave show Glee did cover this song (and it was wonderful), but the original is always the best. Karen Carpenter's melancholy makes me realize that the holiday season would be better shared with the one you love rather than apart and dwelling on the sadness. (And Rachel's performance moved me to almost as many tears as I watched her pine for the one person she couldn't have this holiday season.)
5) Dean Martin - Baby It's Cold Outside: Ooooooh, this may be one of the most fun/romantic songs I can think of! What better premise is there than a woman trying to head home in the chilly winter season, meanwhile her lover doing his damnedest to make her stay? Of course, in the end she gives in, but that playful back-and-forth banter is just magical! Damn near perfect.
6) Bing Crosby - White Christmas: Ah, Bing! There's something about the crooners at Christmastime that fills one's heart with that love and cheer. Of course, Bing Crosby is at the top of this list with two classic holiday movies: Holiday Inn & White Christmas....both having performances of the latter's title. For those who have never experienced a Christmas with snow....you're missing out on one of the key elements of what makes this holiday so special to many. It's more than just the presents, the tree, and sharing time with loved ones....it's also about the perfect setting for such a warm & loving season.
7) John & Yoko & The Plastic Ono Band - Happy Xmas (War is Over): What kind of Beatles fan would I be if this song was not included on my list? Aside from that fact, this song is awesome. The full band performing, the talent, and more importantly, those iconic words: war is over....if you want it. John & Yoko were truly onto something when they wanted to spread the message of love and peace in the world. If we want something to begin or end, we need to be that change in the world. A truly powerful and profound message to share during the holiday season.
8) Frank Sinatra - I'll Be Home For Christmas: Yes, trigger the waterworks....but what a beautifully crafted song to shed a tear for. Someone singing that even if they can't be where they'd like to be for Christmas, they're there in spirit regardless.
9) Alvin & The Chipmunks - Christmas Don't Be Late: For all of the romance, you sometimes need one completely cheesy and child-like song for the Christmas season. Enter Alvin & The Chipmunks with one of the best songs about toys and hoping that their favorite holiday arrives right on time! (Side note: yes....I even make the 'hula hoop' motion in time with the song.)
10) Johnny Marks (Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer) - The Most Wonderful Day of The Year: Last, but certainly not least....another song to bring back those vivid childhood memories! With what other song could you sing about spotted elephants and misfit toys? But in the end, the message is clear: at Christmas, even the misfit toys are important, because there will always be someone grateful to have them.
And so, in the spirit of the holidays, I wish you all a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Happy Holidays! Never forget that this season is important in remembering to share love, joy & laughter with those nearest and dearest to you.