By Tony Farkas
If there’s a person that loves Christmas, that person would be … my wife.
Seriously. At last count, there were seven (!) fully dressed and themed Christmas trees in my house. Each bedroom (four of them) had decorated mini trees.
There’s something like 15 doors facing into living areas, each of which have wreaths of various styles hanging on them. Even the coat closet, if you can imagine that. Every one of those doors also sport door hangers, from gymnastic snowmen to bells.
The dining room table and the kitchen island are having a Survivor Series match on which flat surface can hold the most decorations, Christmas Village displays, and Thomas Kinkade Santa figurines.
I have five Nativity scenes, ranging from expensive porcelain to hand-me-down plastic to Snowbabies sets. With the exception of the Hungarian nutcracker and Santa figurine, I’ve not really contributed much to this.
I am, though, in charge of outside, and I do a pretty respectable job there, but my largest and most enjoyed contribution to the season is music.
My Christmas-loving wife was mired in the traditional Perry Como-esque version of Christmas music, as every one of her CDs was traditional (or Country, bless her heart) fare, or at least the latest Christmas CD as put out by Dillard’s.
One day, I introduced her to “Christmas in the Aire” by Mannheim Steamroller. Wow is and understatement; she proceeded to buy the rest of the group’s available albums, and each year when a new one comes out, our collection grows.
We then grabbed up the three holiday CDs put out by Trans-Siberian Orchestra and loved those so much we even caught them in concert (which, if you have the chance, you should do. They’re amazing.).
So, along with certain movies, such as “The Bishop’s Wife,” “A Christmas Carol” starring George C. Scott, and the musical “Scrooge,” there are certain songs I will listen to each and every Christmas which are guaranteed to prop up my flagging Christmas spirit (that, along with hot buttered rum, but I digress).
•“O Holy Night.” This is for me the absolute best, bar none, Christmas carol ever ever ever. It’s even in the running for the best song ever.
Aside from the fact that it deals with the real reason for the season, the adoration in the lyrics, especially when delivered by a masterful singer (like Michael Crawford), stokes me like no other. I truly feel the presence of the Lord when I hear this.
•“This Christmas Day” by Trans-Siberian Orchestra. An original song that I first heard during the PBS special “The Ghosts of Christmas Eve.” A runaway girl, through the miracle of Christmas, returns home, and this song is about the father’s joy.
The opening line, “So tell me Christmas, are we wise?” is also completely thought-provoking to me, and a question I ask myself every year. Did I do well? Did I make a difference? Was I, like Bill Murray said, “the person that I always hoped I would be?”
•“Los Pesces en el Rio” by Mannheim Steamroller. While all instrumental, with a few oohs thrown in, it’s a toe-tapping romp that’s a lot of fun. Also from that album is “Joy to the World,” which started me on my continuing journey with this wonderful group.
•“Campanas de Belen,” a Spanish children’s Christmas carol.
As a youngish lad, I was a member of the Catholic Youth Organization while I was living in Spain (my dad was stationed in the military there). We did numerous cultural exchanges, not only with the CYO but with the schools, and once there was a performance of this song during a Christmas program. I was particularly captured by the tambourine player, who was doing things with the instrument I would never have thought of.
Between the sentiment of the song, and the coming together of two cultures, I was enthralled.
So, while it may take a little music to get my heart in the right spot, it gets there. If you need a little help, try music, and we all can make a joyous noise unto the Lord.