I love music. I sing all the time; sometimes good, most times not-so-good.
Christmas music is one of the few things I collect. Each year, I try to add to my collection by at least one song. This year, I indulged in this and this. So, I made up for my Christmas Music Collection Fasting of 2007.
There are songs that are like the starting bell of a boxing match for Christmas time. (how's that for a crazy analogy!)
Bing Crosby's crooning of "White Christmas" and "It's beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas"
Harry Connick Jr.'s "Sleigh Ride" and "O Holy Night"
The Carol of the Bells
The Chipmunks album
Growing up, mom would take my brother and me shopping with her. It was always a big deal. We would pile in the big ol' Cougar and drive the 45 minutes to Chattanooga to the Eastgate Mall and sometimes Northgate Mall. This is where we usually saw Santa and had our pictures made with him.
As we would go home, we would drive I-75 and come down East Ridge. The city's lights would stretch out before us. Those lights were magically transformed and became part of our Christmas tradition. They weren't just street lights and billboards. They were Christmas lights.
To this day, I still look for the Chattanooga Choo-Choo sign, trying to be the first in the car to see it.
And to this day, my Christmas season hasn't officially begun until I've driven down East Ridge and seen those "Christmas Lights."
Most times, with my mom and brother, we would listen to our favorite Christmas 8-track. (Yes, we're old.) We'd sing along with Elvis, at the top of our lungs, breaking into parts and singing "oooh, ooo-ooo-OOO-oooh" with the bluesiest feelings we could muster.
Krispie Kreme donuts were almost always in the car with us, and we'd fight over who got the last glazed one.
I was able to go shopping ALL BY MYSELF! yesterday. No kids. No rushy-hurrying husband. Good baby-sitters on duty. No schedule to keep. I was able to find the last of my gifts PLUS some jeans and tops for myself.
And, as I left the "new shopping area" of Chattanooga, I was glad to see the sun was almost in bed. I was glad that I would get to see Chattanooga's Christmas Lights and sing to whatever carol was playing on the radio - at the TOP OF MY LUNGS.
A few weeks ago, Sissy, Lucky and I were able to go see my brother's kids in their school play. As we drove to Huntsville, the city's lights spread out in front of us. I said, "Look, Sissy. It's Christmas Lights!"
Yeah. It looks like someone knocked over a huge Christmas tree!
(That's my kid.)
I've developed some new favorite Christmas songs; ones that speak to my life and experiences.
"I'll be Home for Christmas" makes me think of the year we lived in California and how much I longed to be in my Alabama for this favorite season. (We flew home for a few days, thankfully.)
"Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer" brings to mind the image of The Mighty Hunter's crazy aunt singing along with the song and dancing, holding a stuffed, dancing reindeer. (She's the mother to young adults and a teenager. She isn't mentally disabled. She's just nuts.)
"O Holy Night" holds hte memory of The Mighty Hunter's mother singing at church. She had a great voice but over-used a over-done vibrato with her very high soprano that made me want to jab a pencil in my ears.
"Beautiful Star of Bethlehem" is one of the old Southern Gospel church songs that just fits nicely with Christmas. It reminds me of how, when she tried to not be the big shot star with the over-done vibrato, The Mighty Hunter's mom could harmonize beautifully with her friend and really move you with the message of a song.
"All I Want for Christmas is my Two Front Teeth" reminds me of how my first grade teacher insisted that I, along with another boy who was also missing front teeth at Christmas, stood up in front of all the parents and teachers and the WORLD and sing it. WITH a lisp, which I didn't have, but was forced to fake.
"The 12 Days of Christmas" is still a favorite. One year we had trouble remembering all the lines and decided to improvise our own version. The only rule is that the first day brings "a new clicker for the tv." We take turns making up what our True Loves bring us on each day. By the 8th day, no one can remember what they said on the 7th day or 6th day. It always brings a lot of laughs and some very interesting and just plain strange gifts from our True Loves.
I don't think I can pick just ONE favorite Christmas song. But these hold special and fun memories.
I hope your Christmas this year produces memories that burn into your memory with the Love of family and friends, the Joy of gifts given in love and the HOPE that our Savior brings.
I hope that you take with you, into the New Year, the best of this year and leave behind the pain, sadness and disappointments of 2008.
God bless you all.