Tag Archives: Christmas

Post-Christmas Musings

I love Christmas so much, and I just had a very nice one with my family.

Even so, I have to be honest- this was the most difficult Christmas season in recent memory.

When I wrote this, I was in the midst of four straight months of happiness. From my trip to Europe until about the beginning of November, almost everything seemed to be going right. My friends were great. Work was great. My writing was great. I’d even lost a bit of weight. (Uh, did not intend for that to sound like Dr. Seuss.) The one thing I didn’t have was a relationship, but I was feeling so terrific that I was like, “Hey, age twenty-nine is awesome! Maybe this is the period where I’m happy and comfortable and love will finally find me!”

But instead, what found me was the most frustrating two months of dating I’ve ever experienced. And I’ve been actively dating for over six years, so I do not say that lightly. That’s what I was feeling when I wrote this…and since then, it’s gotten worse and worse.

And it sounds so dumb, but despite all those great things still being great, and despite knowing that I don’t need a relationship to be happy (since I’ve never been in one, I’d be in trouble if that wasn’t true), being single suddenly seemed like the only thing that mattered.

And as things with dating kept getting worse, so did what I thought of myself. I started remembering every dumb thing I’ve said and done, every friend I’ve ever lost, every unkind thought and deed of mine, every physical flaw on my body—and I started to wonder why anyone would ever want to be with me.

Yeah, I know, that’s just digging myself further into the sadness hole. Pretty much every bit of advice they give you on finding love starts with, “Love yourself.” But you know what? When you’re twenty-nine and not only does no one love you, but no one has ever loved you, loving yourself becomes kind of hard.

When I wrote this, I was realizing it was hard to write about being happy. I didn’t want to sound obnoxious and braggy. But I’m realizing now that it’s hard writing about being sad as well. It’s one thing if you’re grieving someone who died, or if you’re going through a breakup or infertility or something legitimately devastating. And if you’re suffering from depression, people are familiar with that—and I think sometimes, people tend to pathologize sadness and tell you that you should see someone if you’re feeling down, even when you don’t meet the criteria for clinical depression.

But plain old sadness is harder to write about without seeming overdramatic or self-indulgent. I’m not going through anything like grief, and I’m not diagnosably depressed—there’s no anhedonia or feelings of hopelessness, just temporary sadness. Nothing’s changed to make me sad—the problem is that NOTHING has changed. And years of going through the holidays being single when you don’t want to be actually makes it harder, not easier, to go through it again.

I hesitated about writing about something this personal. But here it is, out there for everyone. I’ve been sad. I know it won’t last forever, but it’s still what I’m feeling now, and for those of you who have forgotten what being single feels like, just know that while there might be some people who are perfectly fine with being single around the holidays, even with all the couple-y ness it’s full of—there are also many people who aren’t.

Christmas on Netflix (or Wherever)

I’ve covered Christmas songs, movies, and blog posts before. But along with movies like Love Actually and It’s a Wonderful Life, around Christmas I like to watch the Christmas episodes of the shows I like. Many of them are on Netflix (which I’ve recently joined, but that’s the subject of another post), and here are the best ones.

Gilmore Girls, “Forgiveness and Stuff”

This might be my favorite episode of Gilmore Girls. At the beginning, due to a misunderstanding in the previous episode, Emily disinvites Lorelai from the Gilmores’ early Christmas party and things between Lorelai and Rory are tense. Lorelai commiserates with Luke in the diner while Rory goes to the party alone. But when Richard collapses at the party and is hospitalized, Luke has to take Lorelai to the hospital, and what follows is…well, forgiveness and stuff. It’s an episode that displays all of the show’s best qualities, and if you don’t already love Luke, and the idea of Luke and Lorelai as a couple, you will after this episode.

The X-Files, “How the Ghosts Stole Christmas”

On Christmas Eve, Mulder and Scully stake out an abandoned house haunted by two sneaky ghosts played by Ed Asner and Lily Tomlin. It strikes a good balance between creepy and funny- although Scully is being uncharacteristically wussy in this episode. (At this point in the show she’d seen all kinds of crazy things, so I don’t know why two fairly harmless ghosts freaked her out so much.) I’ve always wanted to know what Mulder and Scully give each other for presents at the end.

The O.C., “The Best Chrismukkuh Ever” and “The Chrismukk-huh?”

All four seasons of The O.C. had a Chrismukkah episode. The first and last ones are my favorites. (The second one was all right and I disliked the third one.) “The Best Chrismukkah Ever” is about Ryan’s first Christmas/Hanukkah with the Cohens. In the episode, Seth is trying to decide whether to date Summer or Anna, Kirsten and Sandy are dealing with drama relating to Kirsten’s father’s business, and Marissa, dealing poorly with her parents’ divorce, shoplifts and drinks too much, making Ryan’s life miserable in the process. One of the nicest moments is towards the end, when Sandy tells Ryan that he doesn’t have to be the parent with Marissa.

In “The Chrismukk-huh?”  Marissa is mercifully dead and not around to be annoying. Her presence still lingers, though, when a letter she sent just before her death finally reaches Ryan. With the unopened letter in mind, he has an argument with Taylor, with whom he’s on the verge of a relationship, and they both tumble off the roof and end up comatose. (Much like in While You Were Sleeping, no one seems very worried about them—and this time Peter Gallagher is the one waiting for someone to wake up.) In the shared coma dream, there’s an It’s a Wonderful Life-esque world where Ryan never came to Newport. Also, throughout the episode, everyone seems very concerned about the ham they’re going to have for dinner. I feel like it must have been some kind of inside joke or something.

Friends, “The One Where Rachel Quits”

Friends was better with Thanksgiving episodes, but this is an enjoyable Christmas one. Phoebe is horrified when she sees old Christmas trees thrown in the wood cutter and decides she needs to help the trees “fulfill their Christmas destiny.” Meanwhile, Ross accidentally knocks a girl scout (played by Mae Whitman) down the stairs and breaks her leg. He tries selling boxes of Christmas cookies for her in hopes that she’ll win the trip to space camp that she wants.

Seinfeld, “The Strike”

The episode that introduced the world to Festivus. That’s what the episode is most famous for, but George giving people donations in their name to the made-up “Human Fund” (“Money for People”) also cracks me up and is what I think of whenever I hear about donations to charity in someone’s name. Plus the plot about Kramer going back to work because the strike at the bagel place he used to work at has finally ended—the new minimum wage is what they’d demanded twelve years earlier.

Mad Men, “Christmas Waltz”

Although this is a great episode overall, it’s worth watching solely for the lovely scenes between Don and Joan. There’s never been anything romantic between them, and there shouldn’t be, but there’s some very cute flirting going on here as Don takes Joan, who’s upset because her husband beat her to the punch at filing for divorce, out. He’s kinder to Joan than he is to pretty much any other woman ever, and it’s nice to see.

Playlist of the Moment: Office Holiday Party Mix

My office holiday party was last Friday, on the Spirit of Boston. When I tell people that we have our party on a boat, they’re usually like, “In December?” but since it’s enclosed and heated, it’s actually a lot more fun than it sounds. The first couple of years we were in this building, we had the party in the office, and I greatly prefer the boat!

When we did have the party in the office one year, a coworker asked me to help get together some seasonal music to play. While I do have a Christmas playlist that’s grown to nearly 500 songs, putting together songs for a work party is harder than it sounds. You can’t have any songs that refer to Jesus- and while people on Fox News are bitching and moaning about the “war on Christmas,” they can at least take comfort in knowing that religious carols like “Joy to the World” and “O Holy Night” are so mainstream that plenty of popular artists record those songs. You can’t have any songs that might be inappropriate- there aren’t quite as many of those, but I left off Adam Sandler’s Hanukkah song and Cartman’s “O Holy Night” from South Park and “Fairytale of New York.” You can’t have any choral music, which I love but which is definitely not everyone’s cup of tea. And you can’t have anything too boring or uncool when a large percentage of your coworkers are, well, cooler than you. (You guys know about my highly questionable taste in music!)

So here’s what I came up with, and if you ever have to choose music for your own office holiday party, use this as an inspiration!

The Office Holiday Party Mix

1. Lisa Loeb – “Jingle Bells”

2. The Boston Pops – “Sleigh Ride”

3. Band Aid – “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”

4. Emma Beaton, Mairi Campbell and Dave Francis – “Auld Lang Syne”

5. Dar Williams – “The Christians And The Pagans”

6. Eels – “Christmas Is Going to the Dogs”

7. James Taylor – “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”

8. Gene Autry – “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”

9. Sufjan Stevens – “Get Behind Me, Santa!”

10. Vince Vance And The Valiants – “All I Want For Christmas Is You”

11. Paul McCartney – “Wonderful Christmastime”

12. Sara Bareilles – “River”

13. The Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden – “The Nutcracker, Op. 71: No. 12 Divertissement: Dance of the flutes”

14. The Raveonettes – “The Christmas Song”

15. Sufjan Stevens – “Sister Winter”

16. Mariah Carey – “All I Want For Christmas Is You”

17. Harry Connick Jr. – “(It Must Have Been Ol’) Santa Claus”

18. Nat King Cole – “The Christmas Song”

19. Tim Reynolds and Dave Matthews – “Christmas Song”

20. Jose Feliciano – “Feliz Navidad”

21. Meaghan Smith – “It Snowed”

22. Sarah McLachlan featuring Diana Krall – “Christmas Time Is Here”

23. Bruce Springsteen – “Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town”

24. Sarah McLachlan – “I’ll Be Home For Christmas”

25. John Lennon and Yoko Ono and The Plastic Ono Band with The Harlem Community Choir – “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)”

26. Kristin Chenoweth – “The Christmas Waltz”

27. Barry Manilow – “Carol of the Bells / Jingle Bells”

28. Imogen Heap – “Just For Now”

29. Weezer – “We Wish You a Merry Christmas”

30. Burl Ives – “A Holly Jolly Christmas”

31. Leona Naess – “Christmas”

32. Sarah McLachlan – “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”

33. Bobby Helms – “Jingle Bell Rock”

34. Judy Garland – “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”

35. Diana Krall – “Jingle Bells”

36. Brad Callow – “Christmas Is All Around”

37. Ron Sexsmith – “Maybe This Christmas”

38. Brenda Lee – “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree”

39. Trans-Siberian Orchestra – “Christmas Eve/ Sarajevo”

40. Ottmar Liebert – “Deck the Halls”

41. Tony Bennett – “Winter Wonderland”

42. Ella Fitzgerald – “Sleigh Ride”

43. Sufjan Stevens – “Did I Make You Cry On Christmas Day? (Well, You Deserved It!)”

44. Johnny Mathis – “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year”

45. The Carpenters – “Merry Christmas Darling”

46. Vienna Teng – “The Atheist Christmas Carol”

47. Cast of Glee – “Last Christmas”

48. Mexicani Marimba Band – “Twelve Days of Christmas”

49. Jimmy Eat World – “Last Christmas”

50. Low – “Just Like Christmas”

51. The Long Winters – “Christmas With You Is The Best”

52. Sufjan Stevens – “Hey Guys! It’s Christmas Time!”

53. The Polyphonic Spree – “Happy Xmas – War Is Over”

54. Royal Crown Revue – “Baby It’s Cold Outside”

55. The Goo Goo Dolls – “Better Days”

 

Song of the Moment: “Tollite Hostias”

In college, I sang with the chorale and loved it. Every year, we put on three Christmas concerts, and among the songs on my ginormous Christmas playlist are those from a recording of one of them.

Along with the traditional Christmas songs like “Joy to the World” and “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” one song we always sang was “Tollite Hostias,” an oratorio by Saint-Saens. It’s a Latin song that translates to, “Bring offerings and worship the Lord in his holy habitation. Let the heavens rejoice and the earth exult in the presence of the Lord, for he comes. Hallelujah.”

But aside from the concert, we also sang it at every concert after-party at precisely midnight. Imagine a bunch of drunk college kids jumping up and down while singing a Latin song in four-part harmony- it’s pretty much the most amazing thing ever.

Oh, actually, you don’t have to imagine it! It looks like someone has uploaded a recording of it to YouTube. This brings back some great memories, and I’m glad that current choralers are carrying on this tradition. Enjoy.

And To All A Good Night

Apology in advance- this is going to be a really earnest, non-cynical post, so you can skip it if you’re not into that kind of thing.

I have been in the best mood lately. I’ve been feeling a lot like this little girl:

I’m at the parents’ house right now, and tonight, all my relatives on my mom’s side are coming over. There will be tenderloin and my sister’s Martha Stewart cookies and pierogies (we’re kind of obsessed with being Irish, but Christmas Eve is the one time of year we remember that we’re Polish, too) and, because it involves my mom and her siblings, lots of gossip about people from Lowell.

I feel like this year I’ve gotten more into Christmas than I have in previous years. I’ve been busy, but not too busy to be excited about Christmas. What have I been doing over the past month? Well, listening to my Christmas playlist, which has grown to over 400 songs. Watching all my favorite Christmas movies and marveling at how “To my big brother George, the richest man in town” makes me tear up every single time. Having an early Christmas celebration with my dad’s side of the family. Going to a fun office holiday party on a boat. Having two smaller work parties, one at a bowling alley and one at a restaurant in the North End. Making buche de noel, which turned out better than I expected. Going to a fun party at Erin, Lindsey, and Jackie’s. Doing my Christmas shopping. Seeing the wonderful Christmas Revels show, of which Julie is a cast member, the other night. And a lot of singing!

I haven’t talked much about the chorus that I’m in, but now seems like a good time to start. I really love to sing, and I’ve had so much fun singing with this chorus. We had our concert a couple of weeks ago and sang some great pieces- the Bach motet “Lobet Den Hernn,” Purcell’s “Come Ye Sons of Art,” and a very fun Christmas cantata. Also, I can look around the room at a chorus rehearsal and think, Everyone here is nice. I could have a great conversation with anyone in this room.

This is something that has consistently amazed me since I graduated from college. When I was growing up, and even in college, I always wondered when drama and cliquiness ended and whether people ever got nicer. But now I’ve worked at two different companies where almost everyone I met was genuinely nice. And reading a horrible story in the Globe like this is followed the next day with a wonderful one like this. Sometimes I feel like all we ever hear about are the terrible people of the world—they’re the ones who make the news. But the older I get, the more convinced I am of what Atticus tells Scout at the end of To Kill a Mockingbird: that most people are nice, when you finally see them.

Merry Christmas, all!

Christmas On the Internet

I love everything about the Christmas season. I love going to the mall and buying presents, seeing everything decorated, Christmas music (my Christmas playlist has over 160 songs on it), the TV specials and movies, making Christmas cookies, everything. I can’t wait until we get a good amount of snow so that it looks more like Christmas.

I realize I sound like an over-earnest loser, but I don’t care. This is one thing about myself I hope never changes. I know there are plenty of reasons to stress out over the holidays and that those reasons increase as you get older and have children, but I hope I’m always able to look past them. It’s only a small portion of the year, and we need to enjoy it while it lasts.

Okay, I’m done with that. Moving on- in previous years, I’ve blogged about Christmas on the radio and Christmas on TV. What’s left? Why, of course- the Internet!

Here’s “The Christmas Tree.” This guy does a lot of videos with a wig, dark glasses, and a thick New York accent. I think he’s imitating his mother. My sister showed me this last Christmas, and at first I didn’t think it was that funny, but the more I watched it, the more I liked it.

The title of this one makes it sound sketchy, but it’s not- just hilarious. David Sedaris’s “Six to Eight Black Men” tells about some strange Christmas traditions in the Netherlands (and how it’s legal for the blind to hunt in Michigan). Scroll down a bit to hear Sedaris’s own reading of Six to Eight Black Men.

And finally, a word from my girls Garfunkel and Oates, on the phenomenon known as “Present Face,” which has befallen all of us when we get an unwanted gift.

Christmas On TV (and DVD)

Two years ago, I wrote about Christmas on the radio. So I think you can figure out where I’m moving from there.

I do love Christmas, even in years like this one, when I’m so busy that I feel like I don’t have time to take it all in as fully as I should. But even when I’m busy, one integral part of the Christmas season, along with Christmas carols and decorations, is Christmas movies and TV specials. I’ve seen several over the years, and here are ten of them—not necessarily my favorites, but the ones that are freshest in my mind or that are in some way noteworthy.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
The first time I saw this movie, I was six and watching it with my mom on the little black-and-white TV we had upstairs. I got to stay up until nine, which was a huge deal. And I have barely missed it on TV every year since then. Those little Claymation reindeer, the Island of Misfit Toys, Herbie the Elf (who I’ve decided is a drag queen—he’s the only male elf with hair), and the abominable snow monster are as much of a Christmas story as anything else at this point.

Santa Claus is Coming to Town
The other Claymation Christmas special, and definitely the lesser of the two. This one’s about how Santa became Santa, and I watched it for the first time this year. It’s…kind of dull. Even Santa himself is boring, and while the music in Rudolph is memorable enough for me to have it on my iPod (shut up), the music in this one is…not.

A Charlie Brown Christmas
You can’t not smile watching those little Peanuts kids dance. (Actually, just thinking about it now, I got that song Schroeder plays on the piano stuck in my head.) There are sequels, and while It’s Christmastime again, Charlie Brown! is funny, it didn’t have the staying power of this one. The scene where Linus responds to Charlie Brown’s indignant, “Doesn’t anyone know what Christmas is about?!” is so memorable because, although this first came out in the 1960s, Christmas certainly hasn’t gotten any less commercialized since then.

It’s a Wonderful Life
Not just one of my favorite Christmas movies, but one of my favorite movies, period. At this point, it’s almost a Christmas cliché, which is a shame. Maybe I’m just a sap, but I find it genuinely moving, much more so than any modern film. It’s pretty much guaranteed to boost my mood.

The Muppets’ Christmas Carol
There are a million versions of A Christmas Carol, but I admit it—this one is my favorite. What can I say? I love the Muppets. This version has Kermit as Bob Cratchit and Miss Piggy as his wife (their kids, interestingly enough, are two frogs and two pigs), Michael Caine as Scrooge, Fozzie (my favorite) as “Fozziewig,” Gonzo as Charle s Dickens (well, sort of…a narrator who says he’s Charles Dickens, anyway), and Statler and Waldorf as the ghosts of “the Marleys.”

Home Alone
I was probably in second grade the first time I saw this, and they used to show it on NBC every Thanksgiving until they started doing Thanksgiving episodes of Friends. I remember thinking that once I got to stay home alone, I’d do everything Macauley Culkin did. It’s funny watching it now, because you question the plausibility of so many things you didn’t think twice about as a kid. And this movie also came out before cell phones, and if you think about it, there’d probably be no movie if it took place today—one of the plot devices was that the phone lines were down. But aside from all that, I still really enjoy this movie—and sadly enough, I don’t think second graders today watch it anymore.

Noel
I had not even heard of this movie until I noticed it in Wal-Mart last December 23rd and bought it on impulse. And it’s…not bad. Certainly not an Oscar winner, but not a waste of time, either. Susan Sarandon, Penelope Cruz, Paul Walker, and Alan Arkin play people with all kinds of problems—dying mother, failing relationship, dead wife— and while some parts are very sad, it’s more hopeful than depressing. Some parts are a bit cheesy, but I think this movie kind of fills a void—it’s not a schmaltzy Hallmark Hall of Fame movie, but it’s not an overly cynical Bad Santa or Surviving Christmas, either. It’s worth a watch.

Elf
I don’t love this movie, but I enjoyed it for what it is. I think it’s kind of becoming a modern Christmas classic—come to think of it, maybe the second graders who aren’t watching Home Alone are watching this instead. I’d heard so much about it before I saw it that there weren’t a lot of surprises. I remember my sister imitating the whale, Mr. Norwell, who pops up at the beginning as Buddy is leaving to say, “Bye, Buddy. Hope you find your dad!” and even though that’s only about thirty seconds out of the movie, it’s what I think of first if someone mentions Elf.

Frosty the Snowman
I’m not a huge fan of this one. Not sure why. I don’t think I could ever quite warm up (no pun intended) to Frosty. It doesn’t have all that much to do with Christmas until the end, either. The sequel, Frosty Returns, is funnier, but has even less to do with Christmas.

Love Actually
The first time I saw this movie, I thought, “Eh, that was all right.” But I think maybe I just wasn’t paying enough attention, because the second time I loved it. Actually. There are certainly flaws—some parts are implausible, some storylines are more interesting than others, and Hugh Grant as Prime Minister? Really? But overall, it’s a really enjoyable movie. I think the plot about the kid is my favorite, followed closely by the one about the guy who’s in love with his best friend’s wife. Billy Mack cracks me up, as does “Colin, God of Sex” on his quest to win over American girls. It’s really just a movie about love—and, of course, Christmas.

Christmas On the Radio

So…there are a lot of Christmas carols. Yeah, I know that’s kind of an obvious statement, but really, I was just thinking about it and I realized that if I tried to make a list of every Christmas carol I know, I don’t think I could do it. Even if I listed the 125 songs on my Christmas playlist, I know I’d still forget some.

But there are, of course, two categories of carols. There are the traditional carols, whether they be the religious ones (“Joy to the World,” “O Holy Night,” “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” “Away In A Manger,” “What Child Is This,” “Angels We Have Heard on High,” “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” etc.) or ones about Santa/family/Christmas prettiness (“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” “Silver Bells,” “Winter Wonderland,” “Sleigh Ride,” “The Christmas Song,” etc.).

But then there are the radio carols. The ones that a popular artist records to get some guaranteed airplay for a month. They may only marginally have to do with Christmas, and may not even completely make sense, but you still listen. Sometimes, you even grow to love them as much as the traditional carols.

Of course, there are some truly atrocious radio carols. “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer.” “The Twelve Pains of Christmas” (seriously, I want to strangle the guy hanging up the lights by the time the song’s over). I can’t stand “Santa Baby” no matter who sings it. And I went through a boy-band phase like every other girl of my generation, but for the love of God, NSync actually has a song that includes the lyrics, “I never knew the meaning of Christmas until I looked into your eyes.”

But there are some awesome radio carols, too. The ones that get stuck in your head. The ones you turn up when they come onto your car radio. The ones you dance around the room singing with your friends. You know what I mean.

Now, I don’t normally do top 10 lists. I’m not David Letterman, or even Greg Behrendt. But I do, as I’ve mentioned, have a 125-song Christmas playlist, so I figure that qualifies me as much as anybody to make this list. Here they are, in no particular order.

Mariah Carey, “All I Want For Christmas Is You”

This is the ultimate radio Christmas song. It’s one of those love-song-with-a-lot-of-Christmas-words-in-it tunes, and it’s perfect for blasting at full volume or singing at the top of your lungs.

Vince Vance & the Valiants, “All I Want For Christmas Is You”

Same title, same sentiment, totally different song. The first one is by the Queen of the ’90s and the Tabloids and goes, “I don’t want a lot for Christmas/There is just one thing I need/I don’t care about the presents/Underneath the Christmas tree.” This one is by some band no one’s ever heard of and goes, “Take back the holly and mistletoe/Silver bells on strings/If I wrote a letter to Santa Claus/I would ask for just one thing.”

John Lennon, “Happy X-Mas (War Is Over)”

Although the state of the world today makes it easy to focus on the “war” part, this song makes me happy. Actually, it makes me want to sway back and forth, maybe because I remember doing just that freshman year of college as I sang it with Christina and our friend Carr. If you really listen to it, the lyrics aren’t that great, but for some reason the first line draws you in.

Band Aid, “Do They Know It’s Christmas”

A whole bunch of famous people raising money for famine relief. Also a very nice song, except for one line that’s bugged me ever since I first heard it: “Well, tonight thank God it’s them instead of you.” …WTF? That is maybe the most poorly-worded line in a Christmas song ever. They want you to thank God that people are suffering because you’re not one of them? Doesn’t that line kind of defeat their whole point?

The Carpenters, “Merry Christmas, Darling”

I have a soft spot for this one. It’s deliciously cheesy and sappy, which makes it that much more fun to sing. It turns “Christmas” into a verb (“I’m Christmasing with you”) and includes the line “The logs on the fire fill me with desire.” Awesome.

Boney M, “Mary’s Boy Child”

More religious than the average radio carol, but just as catchy and fun. It’s by a West Indian group, and you can’t hear it without getting it stuck in your head.

Barenaked Ladies and Sarah McLachlan, “God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman/We Three Kings”

Bouncy and fun, and distinctively Barenaked Ladies. They actually have another version of this without McLachlan that doesn’t get radio play, and on that version they muse about the creepiness about the myrrh verse of “We Three Kings” before they sing it. (Seriously, have you ever listened to the words of that verse?)

Jose Feliciano, “Feliz Navidad”

I’ve liked this since hearing it on Sesame Street when I was little. I wanna wish you a merry Christmas from the bottom of my heart, and I wanna sing this song at the top of my lungs whenever I hear it.

Trans Siberian Orchestra, “Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24)”

This is an awesome instrumental version of “Carol of the Bells” that’s very hard to describe unless you actually hear it.

“Christmas Is All Around”

I recently re-watched Love Actually (which, by the way, is much better upon second viewing), and this song is hilarious. It’s the song “Love Is All Around” with “Christmas” substituted for “love.” (Sample lyrics: “So if you really love Christmas/Come on and let it snow.”) It’s a radio Christmas song making fun of radio Christmas songs, so you’re not meant to take it seriously…but there’s something kind of endearing about it just the same.