As much as I love Christmas–and believe me, I really do–this year again, I find myself feeling a little cut off. I have my mom, my sister, my pets and my sister’s cat. But many of my loved ones are too far away for us to get together on Christmas. We mail each other presents, text each other our “MERRY CHRISTMAS!” texts, and like each other’s social media posts about Christmas, but at the end of the day, I still find myself missing them.
So, this year’s Christmas playlist, which is a little late coming (I only put it together last night), goes out to the faithful friends who are dear that can’t gather near. Maybe one day, I’ll be able to spend Christmas with some of you in person; in the meantime, we can listen to this together from far away.
- “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!” by Ella Fitzgerald. I’m a sap around Christmas time. Every year, I hope for snow, even though I live in Kentucky, and I know that snow on Christmas almost never happens. This is just a cute little classic that never gets old to me. And you can’t go wrong with Ella.
- “What Christmas Means to Me” by Stevie Wonder. Hands down the most fun Christmas song I know. I defy you to listen to this song completely still. Like most people who aren’t…little kids, I went through a disappointing period in my life in which Christmas just wasn’t as fun and magical as it used to be. It was just another day. It took me a couple years before I stopped expecting Christmas to be what it had been when I was little and just reevaluated what it was to me now. And it’s different, maybe smaller, but still a lovely reprieve from the rest of the year.
- “What’s This?” from The Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack. I don’t know why, this always reminds me of my friend, Josh. Not the movie per say, but this song in particular. And it is an adorable movie. One that I might need to watch tonight.
- “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” by Jars of Clay. As great as Christmas is, it’s not a wholly happy time for everyone. It can also be a really lonely time, especially when you’re surrounded by messages of togetherness and separated from those people you love. And that’s as much a part of Christmas as the “tidings of happiness and joy.”
- “Christmas Bells” from the RENT Original Broadway Cast Recording. I would ask if it was strange that RENT is one of my favorite Christmas movies/shows, but judging by the the posts on my friends’ social media lately, it’s not weird. As I’ve gotten older, my taste in Christmas movies and my mom’s have diverged a bit. She still loves the classics. I’m less moved by stories of the magic of believing in a holiday delivery man in a big red suit (even though yes, I understand, it’s a metaphor for faith in Christ and all that) and more interested in the magic of imperfect people who had a hell of a year pulling together and making the most of it.
- “Light of the World” by Lauren Daigle. As a Christian, I do believe in reflecting on Christ and the sacrifice He made by coming to earth and living and dying for us all those years ago on Christmas. (Even though evidence actually points to Christ being born in spring or summer and the Catholic church placing Christmas on December 25 mostly to quash out pagan holy days.) But also as a Christian, I’ve heard all of the traditional Christian themed carols enough times that I’ve become kind of immune to them. I only heard this for the first time yesterday, and it really struck me because of the way it ties the story to today and not just this wondrous thing that happened 2000+ years ago. The world needs Christ and his love and light as much now as we did all that time ago. And His grace is a perennial gift, continuing until the end of time.
- “Heaven Everywhere” by Francesca Battistelli. This is more of a resolution for next year. This year was a hard year, and next year there will be some…difficult trials for all of us, I think. But I want to be an example of love and positivity throughout the year. I don’t want to save it all for the last couple weeks of December.
- “Only at Christmas Time” by Sufjan Stevens. This is just such a lovely, soft song. It never fails to be soothing. But then, that’s Sufjan Stevens in general.
- “The Christmas Waltz” by She & Him. I’m actually pretty indifferent to She & Him for the most part, but this is such a nice song, I had to add it. It’s that time of year when the world falls in love… I wrote about how rough November was for me. December, by contrast, was softer and more healing. I’m not saying bad things didn’t happen or that there weren’t news stories that terrified me. But most of my energy was spent thinking about my friends and my God and what I have to be happy about. I needed that this year.
- “Mvmt IV, ‘Every Bell Shall Ring'” by The Oh Hellos. I found this two days ago, actually. As soon as the idea of a Christmas song by The Oh Hellos was in my head, I thought, Oh, that must be so pretty! And when I heard that third, “siiiIIIng,” I was sold.
- “The More You Give (The More You’ll Have)” by Michael Buble. Okay, Michael Buble is getting a little tired, especially when it comes to Christmas music. His “Santa Baby” is hilarious in his aggressive need to affirm his very masculine heterosexuality. But this one is actually pretty cute. It’s just another sappy, upbeat, feel-good kind of Christmas song.
- “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” by Aimee Mann. Like I said, this year has been hard. It’s kicked the shit out of a lot of people I know, and I would like to have some words with it, but it kind of kicked the shit out of me, as well. I hope that you all have a softer Christmas, because you deserve that, and I hope that next year, things start to look up for you.
So, Merry Christmas, my friends (and Happy Hanukkah to those who celebrate it)! I hope this playlist gives you a little smile and helps you to feel a little closer.