David Trinko: Right Christmas songs are music to his ears

Count me among the many people who can’t stand Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You.”

It’s probably not for the same reasons everyone else dislikes the most popular Christmas song of our time, though. It’s not the high pitch or the saccharine sweetness in the lyrics.

It’s just hard for me to think of it as a Christmas song at all. And that goes for “Frosty the Snowman” and “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” too.

As I ponder what Christmas means to me each year, these classics just don’t sit right anymore.

I’ll still probably claim “The Christmas Song” as my favorite holiday song of all time. Whether it’s the version by The Lettermen that I grew up hearing or the one by Nat King Cole, hearing those opening words “chestnuts roasting by an open fire” always warms my heart.

But it suffers in the same way many of these songs do. It plays on nostalgia, just like Dean Martin’s “White Christmas” does, whether it’s for loved ones, a snowy scene or the glint of tinsel.

I grew up listening to a very specific set of songs that played on these tropes. My mother recently found the cassette tape for me, “A Christmas Music Festival,” released by Capitol Records back in 1970. For me, only Lou Rawls can sing “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town.” I’m probably the only one who thinks of Tony Sandler’s and Ralph Young’s rendition of “Jingle Bells” too.

While I love nostalgia as much as the next guy, there’s more to this glorious holiday than that. No wonder people tire of the Christmas season and its music as early as noon on Dec. 25, when I want to stretch the 12 days of Christmas out to the Epiphany on Jan. 6.

Music that points to the real reason for the season, the birth of Jesus Christ, helps keep you in a true Christmas spirit.

I was lucky that the same cassette tape we played on repeat in my childhood had some great Christian themes to it. While Bing Crosby has some great holiday classics, “Do You Hear What I Hear?” is a must-hear every year that reminds us of the nativity story. The same can be said of Al Martino’s “What Child Is This?” or Glen Campbell’s version of “Silent Night.” When I dream of hearing God’s voice one day, I imagine it sounds like the booming Tennessee Ernie Ford’s “O Come All Ye Faithful.”

I don’t begrudge you for knowing Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen. After all, it’s blaring over the speakers of nearly every store starting on Thanksgiving. For me, I’ll spend a little more time finding a great version of “Little Drummer Boy,” “O Holy Night” and “Away in a Manger.” There’s room in our lives to ponder “O Little Town of Bethlehem” and “Angels We Have Heard on High.”

And, to give credit where credit is due, Mariah Carey’s version of “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” shows her amazing range while not losing sight of the real reason we all celebrate this magical holiday.

Perhaps I’d be less judgmental of her better-known Christmas anthem if we better identified who it was we wanted for Christmas. For me and my family, we wanted and received a savior, Jesus Christ, and that’s something I’ll gladly sing from the mountaintops.


See past columns by David Trinko at LimaOhio.com/tag/trinko.

David Trinko is editor of The Lima News. Reach him at 567-242-0467, by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @Lima_Trinko.