Tunes and traditions
Some Christmas songs are good. Some are really, really bad. And some family traditions are really, really good. And some, well, maybe they don’t need to be repeated enough to become traditions. But, for better or worse, Vision editors give you the tunes and traditions that make Christmas a season to remember.
While most people prefer cheesy, love inducing songs to fill their homes with holiday cheer, I take another route. Nothing gets me into the spirit better than the whiny lyrics of “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” by 10-year-old Gayla Peevey. Some have tried – most notably the Three Stooges – but none can capture the pure joy of wishing for a “hippo hero” that Peevey does. How can you not like a song where a child says, “Don’t want a doll, no dinky Tinker Toy”? You can’t. It’s impossible and scientifically proven – somewhere. So for Christmas cheer and a song guaranteed to engrave itself into your mind, remember, “Only a
hippopotamus will do.”
Every single year, the three kids (a term applied loosely in my house) sit down and each of us opens a single gift on Christmas Eve. PJs. flannel, silky, and even nightgowns for the little one are all possibilities but never footie pajamas for some reason. After we all feign surprise, dutifully all of us disappear to our rooms to reappear clad in our new Christmas jammies to watch “Elf” and eat the cookies that remain after my 7-year-old sister has designated the choice ones for Santa.
My heaven on earth would be my three dogs at my feet, a steaming Mochahontas in my hands, my darling curled up on the opposite end of the couch, and “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” playing gently over a crackling fire. No song melts my heart quite like this classic, especially the rendition by Zooey Deschanel and Leon Redbone. These crooners have very different voices, but they blend together like vanilla ice cream and hot apple pie. Perfection.
My family watches “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” almost every year. Not the creepy new one with Jim Carrey, but the older cartoon version. My mom loves that movie so much, so it’s a great way to sit down as a family and enjoy a timeless favorite. But we don’t have too many steady traditions. Each year is unique, because we’re completely unpredictable in the most excellent ways. As long as I’m with them, it’s a very merry Christmas indeed.
“Angels We Have Heard On High.” I adore this song, mostly because I am always so proud of myself for getting all of those O’s out in one breath: “Glo-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o–ri-a.” Maybe “Carol of the Bells” can be my other favorite once I learn all the words.
Tradition (maybe not):
One thing I will always remember is the year my family’s perfect Christmas tree became a Charlie Brown Christmas tree. With the tree tied down to the roof of our car, we headed home, but we soon heard the earth-shattering sound of our tree rolling off into the middle of the highway. After the tree spent some time rolling in traffic, we finally retrieved what was left. Good grief!
This year, I’ve decided to go off the wall with my favorite Christmas song. Though the lyrically-minded part of me is starting the disowning process as we speak, my favorite song this season is a Matt Wertz instrumental cover of “Christmas Time is Here.” The song, originating from Vince Guaraldi’s original score in “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” is subtle, without a sign of cheesy lyrics – or hippos. It’s that low-key sound, however, that connects listeners with the season, and allows their own memories to be placed in the song. For me, old Christmases of the past come back, and remind me there’s more to this season that meets the eye.
My most steady Christmas tradition in my family is one that revolves around music – at least my mother’s infatuation with Christmas albums. As my family drives home from Thanksgiving every year, it never fails. There will be Christmas music, and it will last until the 25th. There will always be the classics – her Bing Crosby album gets fair play during the season. Country Christmas get priority too, with albums from Emmylou Harris and the Skaggs family on repeat. This year though, maybe I should try something different, something to bring her to the 21st century with her holiday musical tastes. Votes for the Biebster, anyone?
A friend recently described how Michael Bublé’s new Christmas album — aptly called “Christmas” — makes him want to pour hot chocolate all over himself. Despite the odd thought (and potential third-degree burns), I must admit I wholeheartedly agree. It’s Bublé’s timeless vocals that provide a perfect bit of nostalgia to some of the most timeless holiday hymns. One cut in particular, “White Christmas,” is especially reminiscent and randomly sparks reminders of Tim Allen’s ‘90s classic, “The Santa Clause.” And who doesn’t want to remember Scott Calvin and those cute little elves? Plus, Shania Twain is featured on the ditty. The tune is sure to get you in the mood for Christmas – and maybe even a hot chocolate bath, too.
When it comes to Christmas traditions in my family, the one thing that stands out in my mind is just that: my family – that and my papaw’s rummage for his false teeth to help him chew our customary Christmas turkey. Anyway, for as long as I can remember, I have memories of making the rounds to the abodes of grandparents, aunts, uncles and first–, second– and third–cousins. And then, there’s Christmas morning with Mama, Daddy and my two brothers. I couldn’t imagine the holidays without my crazy but limitlessly loveable Southern family.