OPINION: Christmas without music like a record without a groove

“Blast this Christmas music! It’s joyful and triumphant.”
– The Grinch

Seeing store aisles packed with Christmas paraphernalia before Halloween – or even earlier – is infuriating.
And though I adore Christmas, I love Thanksgiving too much to sanction decking the halls before thanks have been given and the turkey’s been carved.
But the sounds of Christmas? I begin listening to them as early as possible, I confess.
If I’ve committed some sort of Christmas faux pas, then arrest me. But I can’t help it. I love Christmas music.
I’m thankful that Sirius/XM satellite radio started offering two holiday music channels before Thanksgiving for those inclined to tune in. Two additional ones – a country and a classical – will jump on board Monday.
Sunny 93.3’s been playing Christmas tunes for several weeks, as well. And that makes me happy.
I wish I could tell you I’m not particular about my seasonal sounds, but I am.
I’m sure my taste in holiday music dates me, and that’s just fine. I know what I like. And I like what I like.
Bing’s “White Christmas.” Judy Garland’s “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.” Nat King Cole’s “The Christmas Song.” And anything remotely seasonal by Perry Como.
Old stuff? I guess. Classics for sure. Still and yet, they rock.

Still enjoying my favorites
My most favorite Christmas music for as many years as I can remember, however, came from a boxed-set of four albums – yes, 33 1/3 rpm long-play albums – that were a part of my parents’ record collection forever, it seemed.
Christmas songs both secular and sacred, some sung by chorus, others pure orchestral offerings filled both sides of the four records. All that music made up “Christmas at the Fireside” and was performed by The Longines Symphonette Recording Society.
There’s little information out there about the society, but I did learn it was a record label owned by the Longines watch company which specialized in classical radio programs and boxed sets of multiple records. It was also the name of a symphony orchestra sponsored by Longines.
Longines may have known a lot about time, but they also knew a lot about music.
Those songs through the years became the soundtrack for my family’s Christmases, complete with all the crackles and scratches and skips that began to appear as the albums aged.
Several years ago, my friend Marty Russell kindly burned the music from the old albums onto CDs for my family and me. So, we’re still listening.

***

Someone asked me just the other day if I had a favorite Christmas song.
In my mind I ran down the 50-plus-songs playlist from the old “Christmas at the Fireside” records.
I could not pick a favorite. Choosing one is difficult when you love them all.
My sweet, little Southern Baptist grandmother never hesitated when asked her favorite. “Silent Night.” I can’t hear it or sing it without thinking of and missing her.
Truth is, if I had to 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.
Can you imagine Christmas without it?

Contact Leslie Criss at leslie.criss@djournal.com or (662) 678-1584.

Leslie Criss/NEMS Daily Journal