Tourists by the Christmas Tree in Trafalgar Square

What Christmas Means to Me

Here we are at the end of another year, well into what many of us call the holiday season.

As I've remarked elsewhere, when it comes to religion, I'm a bit of a mongrel, so my approach to the holidays, while imbued with many of the traditional elements associated with a good Methodist upbringing, does not hew closely to any particular set of Christian dictates.

But that's perhaps as it should be, for Christmas, it seems to me, has always been too big a thing to be narrowly claimed by any particular religious organization.

Album Cover for Holidays Rule

Auld Lang Syne

Although this isn't strictly a Christmas song, its use in the closing scene of It's A Wonderful Life qualifies it as one in my book. And, in any case, it expresses a wonderful sentiment entirely appropriate to the holidays.
Album Cover for a Putamaya Christmas

Christmas Bells

On Christmas day in 1863 American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote “Christmas Bells.” Longfellow's words from this poem have been set to music by a number of different composers and performers, starting as early as 1872. There are a number of contemporary recordings based on this poem, but the one with which I am particularly taken is a rather obscure track by John Gorka. The music here is Gorka's, and doesn't seem to share anything with other musical renditions of the poem. Gorka dropped three of the stanzas, including those most directly referencing the Civil War, leaving him with four verses for his song.
Christmas Favorites

Christmas Favorites from The Practical Utopian

The Christmas season is one of my favorite times of year, and I've acquired a huge collection of holiday music over the years, so I thought I would share my thoughts about a few of my favorites with all of you. So here are 20 of my favorite holiday tracks. I've tried to select as wide a variety of songs as possible, mixing different artists and styles.

Album Cover for To Kingdom Come

Christmas Must Be Tonight

I've always loved this Christmas song from The Band.

There's nothing terribly fancy or ambitious about it. Robbie Robertson just recounts the story of Christmas, of the birth of Jesus, in a series of familiar scenes, using simple and straightforward language.

Come down to the manger, see the little stranger,
Wrapped in swaddling clothes, the prince of peace.
Wheels start turning, torches start burning,
And the old wise men journey from the East.

Album Cover for Live at Luther College

Christmas Song by Dave Matthews

Like Robbie Robertson and The Band, Dave Matthews seeks here to craft a retelling of the story of Jesus that might cause us to look at this old tale from a fresh perspective, and consider anew its core meaning. This retelling is a bit more ambitious than Robertson's. Like Jackson Browne, Matthews is not an avowed Christian, and yet he finds deep meaning in this story.