Winter Wonderland

December 6, 2007 at 5:52 am (dull real life stuff, Music Mixes)

So today it snowed all day here in Virginia, and by nightfall we even had about 3 inches of powder on the ground.

With snow still flurrying around outside, what better time, I figured, to “road test” a bunch of songs for the annual Christmas CD I try to do. I loaded up the prospects on the iP0d, bundled up, and decided to hike up to the bookstore (picked up a few gifts) and back. It was a great way to figure out what worked (suffice to say, if a song is sweet enough to put a lump in my throat walking around in the snow in early December, that sucker is a keeper) and what didn’t (early rejects: Simon & Garfunkel’s “I Am A Rock”, Teenage Fanclub’s “December”, and Richard X. Heyman’s “Winter Blue”).

It also got me thinking about the nature of Christmas songs that appeal to me personally. I know that the current hotness regarding massive Holiday CD sales is stuff like the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. I guess it sounds all cool and stuff, and I guess it has appeal for a lot of folks, but I have to admit: I don’t get it. For me, Christmas music has to have an emotional appeal or nostalgic tug to it. I don’t hear emotion in Mannheim Steamroller or the TSO, or even really in George Winston’s December-themed piano releases. Pretty? Absolutely. But…I dunno.

There are folks out there for whom Christmas is all about religion. There are even more folks out there for whom Christmas is a time of commerce and cynicism and irony and “I can’t wait for this to be over.” For me, I guess, Christmas is about personal things; it’s about being 6 years old on the couch with all three brothers including Phil wearing those ridiculous red, white, and blue striped denim bell-bottom pants. It’s about coming home from Christmas Eve dinner at Grandma’s house and there’s a Lionel train chugging around the base of our Christmas tree. It’s about seeing the red warning light atop the radio tower a half-mile up the road and wondering if it’s Rudolph’s nose. It’s about “Lights please”, Herbie the Elf, and the spirits working their magic all in the same night, about the smell of spritz cookies and snickerdoodles cooking in Mom’s kitchen, and about having to memorize lines for a school Christmas Pageant.

Every year for the past 10, December has been the time of year when my workdays become ten times more hectic and last long, long, longer. Days run together and become blurs, and there never seems to be enough time to catch up and get things I should be getting done, done. But every Christmas I look for music that puts me in the mood of the season, stuff that possesses the emotion to take me to my own Christmas Town. That’s the theme of this year’s mix, and I should have it posted fairly early this year.

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