I woke up this morning shivering in my bed. I grabbed my iPhone to check the weather (how handy are those things?) and was aghast to see the forecast: low of 32 degrees (if you can remember back to elementary school that is freezing point) and a high of a only 52 degrees, with the current temp reading in at 32 degrees at 7:45am. I spent most of my youth in upstate NY, where you wake up to four feet of snow and temperatures in the ‘teens with negative windchill factors to throw into the mix. Having survived years and years of frigid winters, I shouldn’t even be phased by this fair show of Orange County cold weather in comparison.
Assimilation. I blame it on assimilation. This is my 7th year being back in California after spending all those years back east, and I have infiltrated back in with the locals. All my cold-weather-NY-survival-savvy has flown out the window after 7 years of 11-month-a-year-sunny-lovely-CA weather. Like:
- I always forget the rules of driving when it rains when said rain actually comes
- I don’t even own an umbrella anymore
- I wear open-toed shoes and sandals in December forgetting that every day isn’t 70 degree weather
- I have to layer upon layer to have any sort of outfit fit for cold weather because pretty much all I own are summer clothes.
There is one winter season intuition that, be it 50 degrees or 12 degrees, I will always have: an impeccable taste in Christmas music. Thus, following is part one of a list of my favorite Christmas songs. We'll call it, "Amy's Completely Biased List of The Best Christmas Songs Ever." May they delight your ears and warm your hearts through this chilly California weather! Note: This list is not in order from greatest to least. I will be posting part two next week, so tune in!
1. "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas," Judy Garland - This song makes me tear up every time, and I'm not a crier. I loved this song ever before I saw Meet Me In St. Louis, the film it was written for. No matter how bad things get in your life, you can listen to this song and remember that as long as you've got your friends and family, you've got a lot. Whenever I'm having a bad day I listen to this song, even if it's mid July.
2. Do You Hear What I Hear," Bing Crosby - Bing's low and booming voice is perfect for this song. Especially on the line, "Listen to what I say, Pray for peace people everywhere."
3. "A Big Red Shovel," Michael Giaccino - If you haven't see the film The Family Stone yet, don't rent it, just buy it. It's one of my favorite Christmas movies ever. It has Luke Wilson, Dermot Mulroney, Rachel McAdams, Sarah Jessica Parker, Claire Daines, Diane Keaton, Craig Nelson - basically an ensemble cast that will rock your world. It's just such a funny and heartwarming movie about family, love, and how Christmas brings everyone together. The montage using this song is so beautiful. Everytime I hear this song I think of that scene. You just have to see it to understand it fully.
4. "Baby It's Cold Outside," Johnny Mercer and Margaret Whiting - This version is so cute and flirty and conversational. It's also got that great singers and standards era feel that I love in my Christmas songs.
5. "Toyland," Doris Day - Another great Christmas song I grew up listening to and now consider it the best version of this song. She sings it very slow and almost in a melancholy way, but you can still hear her smile through her voice.
6. "River," Sarah McLachlin - I like Joni Mitchell's version too, but this one is really pretty. I'm usually not a huge fan of Miss McLachlin because I lean more towards rock n' roll and punk and alternative, but when it comes to Christmas music her voice is perfectly suited! A great modern Christmas classic.
7. "White Christmas," Bing Crosby - This is just another one of those classic Christmas standard songs. My mom used to play this on our record player every holiday season in NY and KY while we put up decorations between telling old stories and sips of eggnog.
8. "The Christmas Song," Nat King Cole - Basically Nat King Cole's whole Christmas cd was always spinning on our record player during Christmas time. No one sings the classics like ole' Nat.
9. "Happy Christmas (War is Over)," John Lennon - Two of my favorite things melded together into one: John Lennon and Christmas songs. What's not to love is the real question? There's even the full children's choir in the background.
10. "Christmas Time is Here," Vince Guaraldi Trio - The whole Charlie Brown Christmas album is a definite holiday staple. I especially like how they used this song in Wes Anderson's film The Royal Tenenbaums, which is another great movie, although not very much about Christmas at all.
11. "Hark The Herald Angels Sing," Frank Sinatra - Clearly I'm a little biased towards the standard style Christmas songs. Anything Frank, Dean or Nat sang I love. They're so jazzy and timeless.
Let me know what your picks are! Expect part two of this list next week with more amazing Christmas selections. Next week we'll go deeper into some more obscure stuff!
on my iPod: Judy Garland's "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas"