Ahhh... Christmas carols.
I love, love, love Christmas music. As soon as Thanksgiving hits, two radio stations near me switch to an all-holiday music format and I eat it all up. I love that the girls are starting to enjoy the Christmas music, too, and we can take a short-lived break from the Disney CD we have been listening to in the car for the last year and a half. (Maybe Santa will bring me some new CDs...)
This year I discovered my new favorite Christmas song: Christmas Canon by Trans Siberian Orchestra. It is Pachobel's Canon in D with Christmas lyrics set to it, all with a lush orchestral setting. It's beautiful, and sentimental for me, too, as I walked down the aisle to Pachobel's Canon in D when we got married. Awwww.
Another favorite is Sting's haunting Gabriel's Message from A Very Special Christmas album back in the 1990's (and I discovered a month or two ago that it is based on a hymn and it's in our hymnal at church- wild!) which gives a beautiful account of Gabriel giving Mary the news of what was to come and includes a portion of the Magnificant.
Yet another favorite is Josh Groban's O Holy Night. I LOVE THIS SONG. I think O Holy Night is the best of the traditional, popular holiday music, because it actually has such a beautiful message... who cannot be touched by the lyrics: "Fall on your knees... o hear the angels' voices! O night divine! It is the night of our dear Savior's birth..." Josh Groban does such a gorgeous job with his version- reverent and deep and shivery. Later in the song the chorus changes to "Noel! Noel..." and every time I hear it I wish my name was Noelle. (In fact, we know a Noelle and I think of her every time I hear this song.) (Semi-related tangent: if we had a daughter who was born near Christmas, I would have pushed very hard to name her Noelle. I think that's ADORABLE.)
The other highly cheesy reason I love this song is this: back in college, when I and my entire dorm floor watched Days of our Lives (seriously- we scheduled classes around this show) there was a storyline in which a baby was kidnapped (so soap opera-ish!) and on Christmas Day, one of the characters was singing this song in church, all hushed and quiet, with the grieving parents sitting in the front row, worried sick about their baby and dreading spending a Christmas away from her, and who comes in but another character CARRYING THE MISSING BABY. Of course the parents were sitting in the front row of the church and we got to see the look of joy on their faces as they are reunited with their child, right there in church, on Christmas, with O Holy Night being sung in the background. I almost cry just THINKING about it. And then I get all mad at myself because it's so ridiculous. But it was a beautiful moment.
I am also a big fan of I'll be Home for Christmas mostly due to it's wistfulness. I once saw Dan's grandmother hear this song and she was completely transported to another place and time. I don't know what she was remembering- a past Christmas, her deceased husband, a lost family member- but she was engulfed in a memory and it was sort of beautiful to witness that.
I have mentioned the group The Roches before and they have a beautiful Christmas themed album with a few original songs. One of my favorites is an acappella song called Star of Wonder and describes the dilemma of a shepardess who has seen the Star of the Christ Child: should she go and see the Child or stay with her sheep and keep them protected? "In the morning they'll come looking for that shepard on the hill/ what would make her leave her flock for surely she must love them still /Star of Wonder in the heavens/wonder what you want of me/ shall I follow you tonight? Star of Wonder/ shining bright..."
Hope you can listen to a couple of these favorites and enjoy them. If I was really cool, I'd be able to link this post to audio clips, but I'm just not that cool. So go ahead and google them.
We are spending Christmas Eve with my family: we're going to see the girls sing at the 5pm Christmas Eve service and then going to my parents' house for a party. We'll open gifts here Christmas morning and then head down to Dan's Dad's house for the day with his family. I am tremendously looking forward to both days and being with the people I love best in the world. I am excited for the girls to open their presents and for Dan to see the surprises I have up my sleeve. I am also quite excited for the girls to see the Pooping Reindeer stocking stuffer I got them (push on it's head and candy poops out)... 'cause that's what Christmas is all about.
Merry Christmas to you and best wishes for a meaningful, happy and wonder-filled Christmas Day!!