You probably already knew this, but “All I Want for Christmas Is You” (AIWFCIY) has bopped it’s way to the center of the Christmas Music Universe. From mid-November to the 25th of December, if you have a radio in your car, you will hear AIWFCIY 3,530,254 times. Mariah Carey has supplanted Andy Williams and Burle Ives and Kermit the Frog as the de-facto voice of the season.
I don’t object to Mariah – not my style but we all get our choices – it’s just that with approximately 45 days each year when Christmas music is allowable we can’t waste time re-chewing a piece of bubble gum that’s lost its flavor.
Let’s have some Christmas music with heart.
The defining Christmas music experience for me was a brave performance of “What Child is This” by an 11-year old girl at an Advent service some 18 years ago. I was home from college and went with my mom (who’s been gone almost two Christmases now.)
The lights were doused except for the cross above the altar and the candles of the Advent wreath, and from behind us came this small voice – a cappella – that grew more mighty with each line. She sang the right version – the one that goes “nails, spear shall pierce him through, the cross be borne for me for you” – and I still blink back a tear when I think about it. The kid did some heavy lifting that evening.
Of course that’s not what I expect from 97.5 KMYX (“The Christmas Myxx”) on my way home from work. It skews secular for one thing, and that little girl’s courage wouldn’t come through anyway. But we can do better than “all I want for Christmas is you, baaaybay.” (Lather, rinse, repeat.)
Friends and regular readers know I tend toward the melancholy. That’s especially true this time of year. With that in mind, here are my nominees to replace AIWFCIY.
What are yours?
“If We Make it Through December”
The Hag wrote the score for the human struggle, and this holiday contribution should get heavy radio rotation. The line “got plans to be in a warmer town come summertime” is so desperate and poignant. The hope is real but I think the plans are a lie:
“Hard Candy Christmas”
I grew up with Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton on the record player all December long. This one acknowledges the sadness a lot of us face at Christmas, but Dolly lifts the mood with assurances that we can be stronger than the blues:
“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”
Judy Garland (original lyrics from “Meet Me in St. Louis” please)
“Someday soon we all will be together, if the fates allow, until then we’ll have to muddle through somehow.” What else is there to say?