Christmastime is here and that means carols are blaring from speakers left and right. You can’t walk five feet without having a holly, jolly Christmas or hearing a jingle bell. My family has its own collection of holiday standards that have become staples, and no matter how many times we hear them, we never tire of the melodies or the memories. Here’s a sampling of the songs we enjoy during Christmas and why:
1. “This Christmas,” Donny Hathaway
Daddy: Upbeat. Really puts me in the Christmas spirit. Can’t help having a merry Christmas when it’s playing.
Mom: Reminds me of romance, when you’ve just met someone and you’re looking forward to a time strengthen your relationship.
Sister: I like this song for its musicianship. I LOATHE ANY COVERS. DONNY HATHAWAY ONLY.
Me: This song lets me know Christmas is officially here. It’s a well-composed song with warm lyrics sung by a warm voice. “Presents and cards are here/My world is filled with cheer and you.” That’s exactly what Christmas is.
2. “White Christmas,” The Drifters
Daddy: Makes me think about (my brother) Tye. This was probably his all-time favorite, sang it all the time.
Mom: Just nostalgia. Being born in the South, there was never a white
Christmas, but the song was part of the songs that I always heard at Christmastime.
Sister: This song is my all time favorite Christmas song. I like the different voices. It makes me think of Daddy.
3. “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” The Temptations
Daddy: Never paid much attention to it until recent years. Nothing like Gene Autry’s version.
Mom: Brings joy, fun and a sense of being carefree.
Sister: This song also makes me think of Daddy. #HEYRUDOLPH
Me: Now THIS is how you make a song your own.
4. “Gee Whiz, It’s Christmas,” Carla Thomas
Daddy: Takes me back to Union Springs when I was in high school and (my sister) Sue was in college. All of her friends would be home for Christmas and they’d get together. This was one of the songs they always played. Always got a hoot out of the line, “Oh, by the way, it’s snowing,” ’cause we never saw snow.
Mom: Nostalgia. I love it because I heard it often during my childhood.
Sister: I don’t really connect with this song. This song for me is when I make a plate.
Me: I love the simplicity of this song. It’s so cute! It makes me want to slip into a powder blue shift dress, press my hair, style it into a bouffant and do the Horse, the Slop, the Mashed Potatoes , the Swim and any other 1960s-related dance. Oh, and I love when she says “It’s soo-o good to tawk to you again…”
5. “Santa, Go Straight to the Ghetto,” James Brown
Daddy: Makes me think about the less fortunate and how we used joke about those who only got a lump of coal for Christmas.
Mom: This one was not the ordinary Christmas song and it still reminds me that there are those whose circumstances are not like the idyllic scenes we hear about in songs and see on TV, but who have the same desires as everyone else. We should not forget those who are not as fortunate as we are.
Sister: The blackest Christmas song.
Me: This is actually a quite poignant song– if you can sit still long enough to listen to the words.
6. “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” The Jackson 5
Daddy: Doesn’t do much for me.
Mom: Reminds me of the joyful expectancy and excitement of looking forward to getting gifts from a fat man with a beard.
Sister: This song gets me super hype for Christmas. The buildup at the beginning gives me everything I need in life.
Me: I mean, it’s the Jackson 5 and young Michael is announcing the arrival of Santa Claus. You can’t help but get excited.
7. ” Santa Claus is a Black Man by ???
Daddy: Makes me laugh thinking about all the white Santas I grew up seeing, not knowing the real deal.
Mom: During my childhood the image of white Santa Claus was always displayed and in my mind that’s who he was. This reminds me of how important it is to provide varied, realistic images for your children and to let them know that the source of gifts at Christmas can come from many people.
Sister: The second-blackest Christmas song.
Me: The first time I heard this song, I thought it was a commercial. But then it kept going. I liked it because it had kids in it, and it was only later that I understood the deeper meaning.
8. “What Do the Lonely Do At Christmas,” The Emotions
Daddy: Makes me feel for anybody who doesn’t have somebody to share Christmas with.
Mom: It’s a sad, sad, song! Makes me think that the holiday is not really fun for everybody.
Sister: Depressing, but pretty song. It reminds me of MAJIC after dark (102.3).
Me: I have never heard a sadder jingling of bells than the sounds in this song. The Emotions– what an aptly named group to sing this song. Nevertheless, I go full-on girl group when this song comes on. Like, singing lead and backup at the same time.
9. “Christmas Just Ain’t Christmas” by the O’Jays
Daddy: My favorite Christmas song of all time!
Mom: Reminds me of the importance of sharing special times with that special person in your life.
Sister: This song reminds me of Mommy. It’s just ok to me.
Me: I always hear Daddy singing the first verse and Mommy coming in with the chorus. That’s the ONLY way I hear this song.
10. “Merry Christmas Baby,” Otis Redding
Daddy: Brings to mind the guy who is just happy to be with his sweetie on Christmas. A lot cheerier than Charles Brown’s rendition, which always made me think of a guy who had one drink too many and wants to confess his love to his sweetie.
Mom: It has never been on of my favorites. Just a song that plays at Christmas.
Sister: THIS IS MY JAM!!!!!!!! YOU KNOW I REALLY LOVE THAT ORGAN!!! I ALSO LOVE HIS VOICE!!!!!
Me: Ayyyye! “Santa came down the chimney, half past three y’all…” That’s my favorite line!
Santa’s choice: “Christmas Comes But Once a Year,” Charles Brown
Daddy: Reminds me of people I have known who would spare no expense buying Christmas gifts, never thinking about how they would be able to pay for them.
Mom: Nostalgia. My parents loved it, DJs played it on the radio, it was everywhere and it just became that song that when I hear it, I know Christmas is here and good times, good food and goodness is abound for at least two weeks.
Sister: I don’t know this song…..
Me: This is my Christmas jam for real! It makes me want to hand dance with Daddy *clears throat*
These are a few of our Christmas favorites, what are yours?