Christmas in our family kicks off with the annual hunt for the Christmas CDs — which I found this year, strangely enough, in the look-through-these-and-get-rid-of-what-you-don’t-want box of discs slated for giveaway. Some years they’re in with the tree ornaments, some years they’re wrapped up in the stockings and one year I even found them with the Easter decorations. But we always find them. And am I glad, because we love these CDs. I am not a music critic — proved by the fact that I remember every word of the Monkees’ “Daydream Believer” and most 1970s TV jingles — but I do know that my family’s favorite Christmas CDs are some of the best around. And it’s not hard to find them in stores, at least: Bath & Body Works and Victoria’s Secret always offer stellar collections, as do Pier One and Starbucks. Really! You just thought those CDs were at the cash registers to spur you into another impulse buy, didn’t you? Give in to the impulse. You’ll be glad you did. I especially am impressed with these collections because they feature such a variety of artists and styles, with some beloved classics as well as up-and-comers. Here are some of our top choices from years past (find them on amazon.com and other sites):
- “The Perfect Christmas — Holiday Music 2005″ from Bath & Body Works is a two-disc set (we immediately lost the bonus four-song Paige Armstrong third disc). Standout tracks include Melissa Etheridge’s “Christmas in America” and Barenaked Ladies’ “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” as well as reflective and soulful versions of “Song for a Winter’s Night” by Sarah McLachlan and “River” by Rachael Yamagata.
- “Christmas Eve/Christmas Morning Holiday Music” from Victoria’s Secret, 2005, is essential for our family Christmas. We’ve spent many hours in the car during holiday travel/shopping belting out Cyndi Lauper’s “Feels Like Christmas” and Fountains of Wayne’s “I Want an Alien for Christmas.” And Tom Jones and Cerys Matthews’ “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” is the five-star version of this pop icon.
- “The Perfect Christmas — Holiday Music 2006″ from Bath & Body Works is another must-have. Highlights are The Pussycat Dolls’ sexy “Santa Baby,” Rob Thomas’s matchless “A New York Christmas” and The Click Five’s rockin’ “My Girlfriend (Forgot Me This Christmas).”
- Any of the six “A Very Special Christmas” albums released from 1987 to 2003 to benefit Special Olympics with music superstars such as Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, Bon Jovi, Madonna, No Doubt and Stevie Nicks. Each one is a gem.