It will come as a surprise to anyone who has ever met me (especially to anyone who has ever lived with me from the months of November through January) that I’ve had a difficult time locating my Christmas spirit in the past couple of years. I used to start listening to Christmas music in September, and the first decorations would show up shortly after Halloween (I actually put my Christmas tree up on Halloween one year. Even I admit that was a little crazy). I come by it honestly, in my defense — it’s tradition at my mom and dad’s house that the Christmas season officially starts either at the first snowfall or on the first of November, whichever one comes first. My parents’ house is a full-on wonderland of warmth and coziness (and baking!) at the holiday season. Seriously, it’s that good.
For 27 of my 30 years, all was well for the holiday season. I relished in shopping early and finding perfect gifts; I watched my favourite Christmas movies all year; and I hauled my Christmas box out of storage on November 1st like clockwork. But something happened the year I turned 28. I don’t know if the lead time of magazines has taken the shine off of the holiday season, or if getting married on New Year’s Eve was Christmas overload, but I’ve had a really hard time finding that feeling I used to get.
This year, though, I can feel something shifting slightly. It started the other night, when I put up a set of coloured lights in the kitchen window of our apartment. I called Sophie when I was finished and watched as she crawled speedily toward me. She stopped when she saw the lights, sat up and said “Wow.” Hilarious. And the first spark of holiday spirit I’ve felt in a long time.
Last night, as Soph and I played on the floor of the living room, the tree lighting at Rockefeller Centre was on TV in the background. She stopped trying to shove huge puzzle pieces in her mouth every time someone started singing, and bopped along or waved her hands joyously in the air. Second spark.
So, this morning I decided to try making a playlist for my dancing babe, wondering if listening to some old favourites might further restore some of that missing emotion. Halfway through my song selection, I felt it again. The spark. It’s quiet, and deeper than I’d like, but it’s in there somewhere. So, with that in mind, here’s Sophie’s Christmas playlist, streamed through Grooveshark, for you to enjoy, too.
DISCLAIMER: I went for sentimentality on this list — not the cool factor (no Bieber or Jepsen here) or even a specific genre. But, regardless of my inconsistent DJ skills, I hope you’ll find something to make your day merry and bright.
“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” — Judy Garland: My youngest sister’s and my absolute favourite, borrowed from Meet Me in St. Louis.
“Little Drummer Boy” — Josh Groban: Blaine’s favourite carol (though I picked the version for this list).
“Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” — Mahalia Jackson: She was my grandpa Lanny’s favourite artist; I can still hear her holiday record playing in my grandparent’s house on Christmas Eve.
“Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” — Brenda Lee: I have very clear memories of rockin’ around the kitchen with my mom to this song (on vinyl!).
“Pretty Paper” — Willie Nelson: The list wouldn’t be complete without a little country. My dad’s brothers Pat and Vinnie used to sing this one.
“Jingle Bell Rock” — Bobby Helms: My dad’s request, and a fun favourite from the Home Alone soundtrack.
“O Come, All Ye Faithful” — Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra: I’ll bet if I tried hard enough, I could still play this on the recorder.
“Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” — Burl Ives: I couldn’t very well leave Burl in the cold. This is the classic Rudolph I remember.
“All I Want for Christmas” — The Chipmunks: This one seems especially apt for Soph this year (but it’s her eye teeth we’re waiting for!).
“Silent Night” — Sarah McLachlan: Because it’s pretty and quiet, and completely evocative of Christmas Eve for me.
“Auld Lang Syne” — Lea Michele: One for my love, in honour of our third anniversary on New Year’s Eve.