Music makes the joys of Christmas complete

“To stop the flow of music

would be like the stopping of time

itself, incredible and inconceivable.”

– Aaron Copland

At 4 in the morning this past Thursday, I was wide awake. On my mind, my column for today. I needed an idea and one had not yet come.

Directly to the right of my head, as I lay there fretting, my alarm clock had been playing 24/7 for the past month or so.

I leave it on for my dogs during the day and at night, I leave it on so they won’t bark when my neighbors come and go.

Since Thanksgiving, Sunny 93.3 has been playing nothing but Christmas music, and I have to say, I have loved it. So have my dogs.

So, at 4:15 a.m. I started thinking about Christmas music and how much I’ve always loved it.

My sister and I grew up listening to a boxed set of five long-play records – yes, records – our parents owned. Christmas at the Fireside by The Longines Symphonette Recording Society.

With age and the advent of compact discs, turntables went curbside or into attics or garage sales. But several years ago, my friend Marty Russell kindly took those old 33-rpms and put them on CDs for my family and me.

Though we’ve bought many new Christmas recordings through the years, those remain our favorites, these sounds from our childhood – complete with all the crackles and scratches and skips.

n n n

I called Bailey Cook before she went to school Thursday and asked her what her favorite Christmas carol is.

“Joy To the World,'” she told me.

“How come?” I asked, impressed at the maturity of her choice.

Then the singing commenced: “Joy to the world, Barney’s dead. We barbecued his head …”

“What? Wait, stop. I mean, seriously, what’s your favorite?”

“OK. I like Jingle Bells.’ You know, Jingle bells, Batman smells, Robin laid an egg …”

“Let me talk to your mother,” I told her.

I started to ask my sister about her favorite carol and then decided against it. It was she, after all, who’d e-mailed me earlier in the day to say she was listening to a carol and wondered why the lyric kept mentioning “hairy porkchop.”

Later, she realized it was not hairy porkchop, but Mary’s boy child.

I hung up.

Picking a favorite is not an easy task – especially when you love them all.

Since the first time I watched and heard Judy Garland sing “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” to a young Margaret O’Brien in “Meet Me in St. Louis, it’s been one of my favorites. But I’d be hardpressed to stop my list there.

My sweet, little Southern Baptist grandmother never hesitated when asked her favorite. “Silent Night.” And I can’t hear it or sing it without thinking of and missing her.

Truth is, I could do without the twinkling lights and the decorated trees, the holiday treats and the packages wrapped in pretty paper.

But not the music.

What would Christmas be without it?

Leslie Criss is the Daily Journal’s features and special sections editor. Contact her at leslie.criss@ or 678-1584.

Click video to hear audio