Some people can’t wait for Halloween to be gone so they can put up their Christmas tree, hang the outdoor lights and start listening to White Christmas, Jingle Bell Rock and the many other seasonal tunes for this holiday season.

There are others who abhor anything holiday-related. They do not decorate, only buy gifts begrudgingly because of obligation, are repeatedly heard saying “bah hum bug” and would never ever be seen listening to Christmas music.

I don’t know where on that spectrum you land. I am probably more Christmassy than Scrooge-like, but it does depend on the year and how much effort and energy I have to put into the whole decorating, baking, gift wrapping obligations.

What rarely changes is my affinity for Christmas carols. I like them or at least most of them, regardless of what the year has brought us – grief or gratitude – or both.

But not all Christmas tunes are equal. This feels like a perfect opportunity for a taxonomy, or at the very least, a classification of tunes.

There is the general Christmas songs that seem to be about announcing the holiday as arrived or is coming. It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas, Here Comes Santa Claus, Santa Claus Is Coming to Town and Silver Bells, to name a few examples.

The next category is the directives. Songs that share what is expected of you. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, O Come All Ye Faithful and Have a Holly Jolly Christmas are examples of these seemingly push winter tidings.

Then there are the religious themed songs that are actually about the event that most Christians celebrate Christmas for in the first place. Silent Night, O Little Town of Bethlehem and God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen are examples of those in this category that have stood the test of time – as in thousands of years.

There is also the commercial side of Christmas celebrated by another category of tunes. Santa Baby, All I Want for Christmas and my personal favorite, I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas, shamelessly spells out in classic American consumerist fashion the material reasons for the song.

There is another category to be mentioned that fall into the cartoonish, kid-friendly songs. Frosty the Snowman, Jingle Bells and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer are the most common.

I am sure there are more exhaustive lists and custom true taxonomies that could be assembled. This, however, was my take on the majority of Christmas carols out there. Whichever category you prefer, if any, I hope that this ending of 2020 brings you some peace, good health and some laughter. We certainly need them all.

Melody K. Smith

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