I thought it might be fun to do a little weekly "Top Five" feature.  So for my first "Top Five" list, here are my favorite Christmas albums.  I actually have more than five, so I included a couple honorable mentions.  First list out of the gate and I'm already breaking my own rules.  Sue me.

Honorable mentions:
Nick at Nite's Classic Cartoon Christmas

This album is like a little box of nostalgia, all wrapped up in a jewel case.  See the guy's expression on the cover?  That's about how I feel when I listen to it.  It makes me want to clap my hands and sing along.  The reason is that it's got some of the best music from all the Christmas specials of my childhood-- Charlie Brown, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Santa Claus is Comin' to Town, Rudolph, and more.  I love it and my daughters love it.  You'll love it too.  (If you can find it-- it's out of print.  But it's worth finding!)

How the Grinch Stole Christmas (soundtrack)
Oh man.  There was a Christmas a couple years ago when my oldest daughter asked for this album every time we got in the car.  Every single time.  I thought I'd never want to hear it again, but strangely enough I'm not tired of it.  It's not just the songs from the Christmas special, it's the whole audio track.  All the Boris Karloff narration, all the music, everything.  It's also got Horton Hears a Who on it, but I admit I've never listened to that part.

And now, the Top Five:

5. Harry Connick Jr., "When My Heart Finds Christmas"

His first Christmas album is still my favorite.  From the swinging version of "Sleigh Ride" that starts the album off to the swoon-worthy "What Are You Doing New Year's" at the end, there's not a single song on this album I ever skip.  It's such a fun album.

4. Bing Crosby, "Merry Christmas"

First of all, if the sight of Bing Crosby wearing a Santa hat and a bowtie made of holly doesn't fill you with joy, then there is something wrong with you.  But beyond that, this record makes me happy for lots of reasons.  It was my grandmother's favorite.  I love Bing.  White Christmas is my favorite Christmas movie.  I love Bing.  Mele Kalikimaka.  And also, I love Bing.

An aside-- for years I thought the lyric in "Mele Kalikimaka" was "Mele Kalikimaka is a wise way to say Merry Christmas to you."  Last year I found out it's actually, "Mele Kalikimaka is Hawaii's way to say Merry Christmas to you."  Well, that makes more sense, doesn't it?

3. James Taylor, "At Christmas"

This is the newest album on my list.  I've usually got to live with a Christmas album for a while before I consider it a favorite, but from the first time I listened to this one I knew it was a keeper.  There's something about James Taylor's voice and style that's just so comfortable and familiar.  Combine that with some classic Christmas songs and you've got gold, my friends.

2. Vince Guaraldi, "A Charlie Brown Christmas"

I've been sitting here trying to figure out a way to describe the greatness that is this album, but I don't have the words.  Vince Guaraldi's compositions and arrangements have stood the test of time and inspired countless musicians.  This album is practically perfect from start to finish.  I will never, ever get tired of listening to it.

1. First Call, "An Evening in December"

This will always and forever be my favorite Christmas album.  I have the record sleeve framed above my desk.  It brings back memories of 20-some odd Christmases-- being a young teenager and traveling with my family on Christmas Day to Alabama to see our grandparents; being a college student; being a young married couple in our first home with our first Christmas tree; Christmas Eves with our own children.  I introduced this album to my husband when we got married and now he looks forward to listening to it almost as much as I do.  

The songs on the album are all a cappella jazz arrangements of familiar Christmas hymns and songs, along with a twist on an old favorite, "The New Twelve Days of Christmas," and an original song, the title track "An Evening in December."   The singers are extraordinary, as are the arrangements.  The CD is out of print, but currently you can download the album on iTunes and Amazon.com.

What are your favorite Christmas albums?



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