“I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.”
— Charles Dickens
For those not residing under a proverbial rock, the twinkling lights and images of Santa Claus are a clear indication 2013 will soon be another page in the history books.
As this column’s headline suggests, the Christmas season brings with it not only the sights, but also the sounds of tunes heard only once a year. And with the immense travel schedule this and each December – especially with three children in tow – there’s a lot of opportunity to explore the expansive set list of Christmas ditties.
In fact, I’m on a rare trip back to my hometown in Alabama today with my children and without my wife. The events unfolding at this moment will likely be captured in next week’s column, though hopefully it will be an uneventful trip. Wishful thinking, right?
In any case, the children tend to gravitate to some of the more traditional songs of the season. You know, “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” and “Jingle Bells” are some of their favorites. They’ve also taken to “Feliz Navidad” this year unlike in year’s past. For some reason, however, the Dora the Explorer version has replaced the more traditional Jose Feliciano score for Bryley, our nearly 6 year old.
Maybe she takes after her dad in that regard. After all, I tend to gravitate toward some of the more obscure Christmas recordings.
One that comes to mind is the Bing Crosby and David Bowie duet, singing “Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth.” Now there’s two different walks of life coming together on the same path. It was a stroke of genius.
For the first time this year, I heard the Barenaked Ladies team with Sarah McLachlan to sing “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.” The Canadian alternative rock band was a favorite of mine for many years and for many reasons, namely their marketing techniques. I mean, who could resist a marquee with “Barenaked Ladies perform live tonight” on it? McLaughlan adds a higher octave to create a masterful combination. Come to find out, the band even has a 2008 Christmas album, aptly titled “Barenaked for the Holidays.” It’s already on my Christmas list for next year.
When it comes to the classics, two remakes of timeless Christmas songs come to mind. The first is “Please Come Home for Christmas” by the Eagles. Then there’s “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” by Bruce Springsteen. Now that’s holiday cheer at its finest, especially for a child of the ’80s.
I stumbled upon a Jack Johnson recording of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” recently, and it may be my new favorite version. Maroon 5 also did a version of “Happy Christmas (War is Over)” originally recorded by John Lennon and the Harlem Community Choir. Yes, that’s the one that begins, “So this is Christmas, and what have you done?”
Adam Levine and the crew do a standup job on the song I thought was too sacred for a remix. Regardless, it’s a great Christmas song with big meaning.
As we prepare to say goodbye to 2013, I pose the same question Lennon did more than four decades ago…what have you done?
If you ask me, I say not enough. Of course I’m speaking for myself, but if you answered the same as me, I’m quite sure you’re not alone.
I know I’m guilty of getting caught up in all the – to spare a better cliché – hustle and bustle this time of year brings about. The Felkins family did a few noble gestures of charity, but certainly not nearly enough, given how blessed we are.
So it’s my New Year’s resolution to do more, to volunteer more, to give more of myself and my time. Join me if you will, and let’s make a difference in 2014.
That’s one resolution I intend to keep. So when Lennon poses this question this time next year, I can honestly say I did everything I could.
Jared Felkins is The Democrat’s director of content. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @paperboyfelkins.