The Ink Penn

I must admit that when Sirius XM added their Christmas stations in early November, I began listening to them nonstop. Their Traditional Holiday and Hallmark Music stations play mostly the songs I recall from my childhood, while the Holiday Pop station has a bit more rock n’ roll, songs that are slightly less appealing to me. My addiction applies only to music, so you won’t find me glued to the Hallmark TV Channel watching Christmas movies.

What are your favorite Christmas songs? I have a basket filled with Holiday CDs I play over and over, but some of the songs I cherish from my childhood aren’t represented. Possibly my all-time favorite album was a Perry Como album—the one we played on our red Victrola.

We lived in New York City when I was in grammar school, and I took that album to PS 162 for show and tell. Yes, in NYC, the schools are numbered, not named. I walked to school in those days, so I must have been a sight carrying a 33 rpm album.

The song I played for my class was C-H-R-I-S-T-M-A-S. Perry Como sings the meaning of Christmas by explaining what each letter stands for, beginning with “C is for the Christ child.” I’ve never heard that song anywhere else and was thrilled years ago when I stumbled across a cassette tape version of the album. Remember those?

I have multiple versions of the classics like “Silver Bells,” “White Christmas,” “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” “Jingle Bells,” and “The Little Drummer Boy” sung by artists from Nat King Cole to Kenny Loggins. One year, I picked up a cassette of country Christmas songs and discovered “Hard Candy Christmas” and “Pretty Paper.”

Not all additions to my collection have been keepers. Jimmy Buffet’s and Neil Diamond’s Christmas CDs just didn’t do it for me, but “When My Heart Finds Christmas” by Harry Connick, Jr. is special for its versions of “O Holy Night” and “Ave Maria.”

Other favorites from the 80’s and later, are those by Mannheim Steamroller and George Winston, the tunes that my youngest sister disses as “those songs you play with no words.” Also in my collection of music “with no words” are my several Windham Hill Christmas CDs, a recording label I stumbled across in the 90’s when I visited B&Bs to facilitate leadership training classes.

There was always a stack of Windham Hill CDs in the conference room, CDs filled with peaceful instrumental music. I found them the perfect accompaniment to preparing my class presentations and enjoying my morning coffee before the participants arrived. When I discovered Windham Hill had Christmas CDs, my collection grew. My favorites from that collection are “A Winter’s Solstice,” and “The Carols of Christmas.”

George Winston and other Windham Hill artists keep me company in my office on my small single CD player. The dog, the cat, and I have been known to listen to the same CD for hours and the same few CDs for days. Once our stereo receiver bit the dust, the cable Christmas channel provided holiday tunes in the living room, but I’d much prefer to load my CDS and hit shuffle as I used to do.

That’s why my thoughtful husband gave me a portable five-CD player for Christmas. Visions of sugar plums and non-stop Christmas music are dancing in my head. While I “undeck” the halls and pack away the decorations, I plan to listen to all my favorites one last time. For me, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.”

Kathy is a Sandy Springs resident. Find her books, “Lord Banjo the Royal Pooch” and “The Ink Penn: Celebrating the Magic in the Everyday,” at the Enchanted Forest, Amy’s Hallmark at the Forum and Mansell Crossing, and on Amazon. Contact her at, and follow her on Facebook,

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