It's that time of year to break out the Christmas music—The Chieftains, Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, Judy Garland, Vince Guaraldi, James Taylor. I've even got some Michael McDonald and Leona Boyd.
My sister Melanie and I used to close all the curtains in July to try to fake a wintery atmosphere and stack up the Christmas albums on my parents' stereo console. It was a huge piece of furniture with a record player, a tape player, and an 8-track player—those three elements, and it needed its own massive cabinet.
My mother still has the albums we played, like Carol of the Bells, a Firestone Christmas album, and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. One of my favorite things to do when we visit her for Christmas in Georgia is to stack up those old records on her little record player as background for our traditional dinner of cornbread dressing, fried corn and Coke jello. The sound of the needle fighting its way through the dust and decades of use makes it rich with nostalgia, something my sisters and I can all appreciate together.
Until then, I'll "stack up" the holiday genre on iTunes with no scratches or dust, which somehow seems less special, and I'll plunk out a few tunes on the piano. I only know a few, and I recorded them last year. No need to try to record them again since I'm a little rusty (or rustier), so I'll just copy one of last year's recordings. It's one of the easier pieces in the Charlie Brown Christmas book.