By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Christmas (or, for the un- or differently churched, Xmas) has never been my favorite holiday; Thanksgiving is, because — its unfortunate history aside — Thanksgiving is about conviviality; also too tryptophan and football. Christmas, I feel, even if I did score one or two nice practical gifts, should be something more than a Saturnalia of consumerist excess (see, e.g., Luke 1:46-55, cited by Jacobin in “Why Christmas Matters”). Maybe that’s why my favorite part of Christmas was singing carols with the rest of the family round the piano. And since I don’t feel like writing an extended commentary on the social gospel today, here’s some Christmas music for you. The range is broad, and perhaps, readers, you’ll share some of your own favorites (or pet peeves) in comments. Musical or otherwise!
To start off on a high note, here’s Elvis Presley singing the distinctly secular Blue Christmas:
I like the part about when the “blue snowflakes start falling…” How true it is that America’s had 43 Presidents, but only one King!
And here’s another crooner, Bing Crosby, doing I’ll Be Home for Christmas:
(As readers may have guessed, I love the Presley tune, and loathe Crosby’s vile treacle. Am I being too harsh?
Here’s the original rendition of the most virulent shopping mall earworm of all time, The Little Drummer Boy:
I hate The Little Drummer Boy so much I mentally classified it as secular, along with Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer (ick) and Frosty the Snowman (ugh).
And here’s what Christmas ought to be about: Once in Royal David’s City, the first carol of the King’s College Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols:
(No pressure on that choirboy, eh?) It still tugs at my heart, even though I have no belief in the doctrine whatever, whether purveyed by Anglicans, fundamentalists, the one holy catholic and apostolic church, or the orthodox church. Beauty–unearthly, angelic beauty–is very strange. How is it even possible?
Readers, how was your Christmas? Or Xmas? Or your holidays?
I actually went to some trouble to curate this; I decided to leave out the dub version of The Carpenters Christmas, as well as the Sex Pistols doing Jingle Bells (because it’s truly awful).