It’s always at the supermarket in November, never December, when the shopping complex speakers commence blaring out the most inane song to Australians: ‘I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas’.
Some people find this mildly irritating; others become almost apoplectic, shaking fists at speakers while spilling apples all over the place, while yet others blithely go about their business in a trance. Ear plugs, gotta be ear plugs!
I love Christmas music — but only at Christmas. Our family favourites were very much looked forward to on the day, even after our fill of Carols by Candlelight the night before while decorating tables, folding serviettes and topping and tailing beans. Carols on Christmas Eve never seemed to feature our favourites, or if they did, we must have missed them because we were busy elsewhere in the house; probably searching for Nana’s Christmas tablecloths, Mum’s candlesticks or helping Dad stock the beer fridge.
Bing Crosby (Dad nick-named him Bang Horsby) was a must at our place! I think, like most Australians, carols and songs with snow in them were dismissed, relegated to background music, while Bing and the Andrews Sisters singing ‘Mele Kalikimaka’ “… here we know that Christmas will be green and bright, the sun to shine by day and all the stars at night …” was turned up loud, sung along to — yes, every word — and still is a firm favourite. We’ll be singing it this year, for sure.
From 33 LP, to cassettes, to CD, I cannot remember a Christmas without this album as there are many other songs we really enjoyed on it, especially ‘Christmas in Killarney’ — a fabulous Irish melody and words that gets toes a’ tapping; and the poignant ‘I’ll Be Home for Christmas’, which has brought me to tears on the occasions when I have been away from home. Still does when I think about it.
Moving from heart-wrenching tears to crying-with-laughter tears, our other family song ‘it’s not Christmas if you don’t do it’ is ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’, and of course someone always stuffs up! It’s hilarious, especially with actions after more than a few glasses of Christmas cheer. We took some happy snaps quite a few years ago with my beloved family in full voice. And yes, that’s also on this year’s agenda which I’m very much looking forward to as we welcome a new face at the table who has never experienced a family Christmas like ours. And probably never will.
One song in particular I like to play in the car when I’m out and about is Mariah Carey’s ‘turn up the volume, open the window and sing-along’ ‘All I Want for Christmas is You’! Most drivers toot and wave as I bop along, tinsel streaming from the car aerial. Just as an aside, for as long as I can recall, every member of my family has always tied tinsel onto their car aerial, but it’s become far more important than mere decoration these days. Four-wheel drives in car parks have created hell for we sedan drivers and I’ve thanked the heavens numerous times because I’ve always been able to locate my car due to the tinsel glinting in the sun!
My most recent addition to our Christmas collection is the classic ‘Little Drummer Boy’, but not as you’ve ever heard it or seen it. It raises the hair on my neck and I get goosebumps when watching it, it is such a brilliant, modern rendition – very powerful and emotive. This should be on a ‘must watch’ list for the festive season, especially for younger (er, cough, those under 60) family members who may possibly compare it to the band U2. I promise you this powerhouse performance is not like any other version of ‘Little Drummer Boy’ you may have experienced! It’s brilliant!
And in those quiet moments when I’m absorbed in a task, I listen to my Walkman to enjoy the spine-tingling rendition of ‘O Holy Night’ by Il Divo — this performance features those awesome voices live at the ancient Roman Theatre of Merida in Spain; and the one and only John Lennon singing ‘Happy Christmas (War is Over)’ …
“So this is Christmas
And what have you done
Another year over
And a new one just begun
And so this is Christmas
I hope you have fun
The near and the dear one
The old and the young
A very Merry Christmas
And a happy new year
Let’s hope it’s a good one
Without any fear”