A different kind of Christmas

I think my favorite part of the Christmas holiday season is the music. I love it all – popular standards, instrumental, contemporary and traditional carols.

As a Christmas music aficionado, I know the lyrics most of the songs I hear on the radio. I think it comes from years and years of Christmas programs, church choir performances and my parents who filled the house with tunes from scratchy old phonograph records. This irritates the rest of my family because I generally feel compelled to sing along at the top of my lungs when in the car or if I’m in the kitchen making supper. Funny thing is, when I sing in the kitchen, I often notice the television getting louder and louder in the living room. Obviously, my husband and son don’t appreciate by dulcet tones since they are trying to drown me out.

My new favorite holiday selections come from the acappella group called Straight No Chaser. They’re a fun ensemble that sings in close harmony. I’ve downloaded any number of their holiday tunes on my phone which I can listen to when I’m reading or crocheting or walking.

Daniel enjoys the classics that kids always seem to like – “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch,” “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” “Jingle Bell Rock,” and others. We turned on some holiday selections while we pulled the old Christmas tree out of the closet, assembled it and decorated it with family ornaments and sentimental favorites. We looked over all the little baubles that Daniel had made through the years in day care and elementary school. The music just made the experience all the more special.

Of course, there are a few songs that I just can’t listen to for a variety of reasons. “The Christmas Shoes” is one of those selections. I don’t know who sings it, but it’s a tear jerker. The premise is that a young child runs to a store on Christmas Eve to buy a pair of fancy shoes for his mother, who is near death. He wants to buy the shoes so that Mom can have something nice to wear to when she meets Jesus. All I have to do is hear the opening introduction to that song and the tears start flowing. I quickly snap off the sound or change the channel for a few minutes. If my husband is along, he just shakes his head. He knows how I am with movies and television shows. He knows I’m a sappy cryer and a sucker for a sad story.

This year, just about all of the Christmas music I hear seems to put me into a nostalgic place. When I hear a familiar carol or a pop standard, my thoughts go immediately to my dad who passed away last summer. This is the first Christmas without him and it will be a very different kind of holiday. I’ve made sure to put up some of the old Christmas decorations he and my mom used for years. Dad took such great joy in watching his grandchildren open presents and sort through their Christmas stockings. We’ve got some great snapshots of him with his many grandkids and great-grandchildren at past Christmas gatherings.

We’ll miss him greatly, but I feel blessed that we have those remembrances, photos and songs to help keep his memory alive in our hearts.