Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

'Tis the Season

by Stephanie Black

A few weeks ago, I got a call from my daughter at BYU. “I’ve done something bad,” she confessed. “You didn’t buy something, did you?” I said. “No,” she said. She explained that she’d been working on an essay for her Spanish class. The essay was about her favorite holiday, or some such topic, and she was writing about Christmas. As she wrote about our Christmas traditions, she started feeling Christmasy and . . . well, you know what can happen once you start wallowing in temptation. She cracked.

She listened to Christmas music.

Before Thanksgiving.


Not that there’s any law on the books decreeing that you can’t listen to Christmas music until the day after Thanksgiving, but that’s the rule I grew up with, and I’ve apparently instilled it my children, if my daughter’s guilt is any indication. Later, my second daughter cracked as well and there she was in her room, listening to Christmas music on my computer. I had her turn it off because I didn't want to hear it yet. Don’t get me wrong—I really don’t think there’s any crime involved in listening to Christmas music early, and I've been known to do it myself. But I wanted to wait because it’s fun—it builds up the excitement to the big moment, the official start of the Christmas season. It makes it seem more special.

So, despite sore temptation, and setting aside a snatch of Christmas music that I listened to while creating playlists on iTunes, I held off. Granted, I was singing a particular song for weeks, which the less charitable might call cheating, (and my husband thought it was cheating when I listened to Handel’s Messiah, but come on, that’s not just Christmas music and shouldn't be limited to Christmas). But other than that, I refrained from putting Christmas music on the stereo until the morning after Thanksgiving. So what was the first song of the year? It was, of course, The Boar’s Head, from the Chieftains’ Christmas album, The Bells of Dublin. It’s an English Christmas carol from the 15th century, and the Chieftains do it really well. For the first couple of years that we had the album, I couldn’t understand some of the lyrics to that song, but I thought it was just how, you know, sometimes you just can’t understand some of the lyrics of a song, like in an old John Denver song where he sings the words “rocky cathedrals” and we could not figure out what he was saying, and we finally looked it up in a songbook—this was in the days before Google. Anyway, when my daughter printed out the lyrics last year, it all became clear—some phrases from The Boar’s Head are in Latin, which would not have been an impediment to Kerry, but was a bit incomprehensible to me. Quot estis in convivio, and all that.

In keeping with the lyrics-I-need-help-translating theme, this year we’ve adopted a new song into our Christmas lineup, a very catchy traditional song called El Burrito de Belen, performed by Colombian singer Juanes, of whom my daughters are extremely fond. Belen means Bethlehem; burrito, apparently, means young donkey, which I didn’t know. All this time, I thought a burrito was something involving beans and tortillas and, for the lucky few, Café Rio. By the way, if anyone wants to trade, I’ll trade you an In-N-Out for a Café Rio. I like In-N-Out, mind you, but mmm . . . Café Rio.

Another of my favorites in the Christmas music lineup this year is the Christmas Songs album by Celtic ensemble Anuna. Clear, ethereal voices, gorgeous harmonies.

So when do you start listening to Christmas music? Do you wait until after Thanksgiving or do you, like stores, have it playing in October, or possibly while you set off fireworks on the Fourth of July? And do you have any recommendations for awesome Christmas songs that I should add to my list?


At 12/02/2009 1:25 PM, Blogger Sandra said...

Listening to the Messiah isn't cheating because it was originally written for an Easter program.

At 12/02/2009 5:41 PM, Blogger Jon Spell said...

Ha ha, now we have both Cafe Rio AND In-n-Out within a couple of miles! Take that, California!

There was a radio station here playing Christmas music after Halloween. *shrug* I didn't really grow up with all the Christmas songs - I went on a hay ride caroling thing when I was 17 and I didn't know the words to any of the songs. (note: grew up JW) Amy Grant's first (of 3) Christmas albums was the first CD I ever bought, and *Jon admits proudly* I listened to it any time in the year I wanted.

My wife is quite the collector of Christmas music and I've happily jumped on board.

Must Listens:

Muppets with John Denver
Amy Grant (of course)
Bing Crosby
Beach Boys
Vince Guaraldi (Charlie Brown)

Newish Favorites:
Harry Connick Jr. (I prefer the 1st)
Jewel (you may not be a fan of hers normally, but this is a real treat)
Mariah Carey (see above)

I look forward to seeing more recommendations here! I got my wife 2 Cmas CDs this year. I know she doesn't read this blog, so I'll post this video for one of the songs - it is VERY entertaining.

At 12/02/2009 6:42 PM, Blogger Anna said...

I wait until after Thanksgiving. I did listen to it once on day a week before Thanksgiving. My kids asked if it was Christmas. I told them that we don't listen to it all the time before Thanksgiving, but that I just wanted to hear a little bit.

At my parents at Thanksgiving there was no Christmas music. The next day as we hung out.. there was lots of Christmas music.

I like the classic singers - Dean Martin, Bing Crosby, etc. I also like Vince Gills "Let There Be Peace" CD. I like Celine Dions Christmas CD. Oh, and Amy Grant and Kenny Rogers. Mostly the classics for me, but a few of the newer ones are good too.

At 12/02/2009 8:30 PM, Blogger Carolyn V. said...

I have to wait until after Thanksgiving, or I can't stand it by Christmas. Of course we listen to it everyday until the 25th. =)

At 12/03/2009 12:02 PM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...

Thank you, Sandra--I feel vindicated!

Jon, I LOVED the YouTube link! I liked it so much I'll forgive you for the Cafe Rio bragging.

Thank you, everyone, for the suggestions! Awesome!

At 12/03/2009 2:41 PM, Blogger Marta O. Smith said...

Thanks for the great suggestions. I need them for my blog this month (I'm featuring Christmas music). The one song I just found this year is Riu Riu Chiu by David Archuleta. I haven't been able to get it out of my head.

At 12/03/2009 3:11 PM, Blogger Jon Spell said...

Oh, and by the power of suggestion... we had Cafe Rio for dinner last night. =) I think I might just drive down to In n Out for lunch today. *evil grin*

Mmm, chips and queso.... so, when are you coming back to visit, Stephanie?

At 12/03/2009 3:36 PM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...

Ooh, I love Riu Riu. I haven't heard the David Archuleta version yet.

Jon, you punk. I won't be there until April . . .

At 12/03/2009 3:48 PM, Blogger L.T. Elliot said...

I like the Rudolph rendition by Ryan Shupe and the Rubber Band. My kids love to dance around to that one.


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