From staff reports
'Dominick the Italian Christmas Donkey' and 'White Christmas'
By JULIE REPPERT
Christmas is my favorite time of the year, and part of why I love the season is the music. Where many scoff at it, I can't get enough of it!
I find that radio station that is playing Christmas songs 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and I keep it on from Thanksgiving until Christmas. I could not choose just one favorite Christmas tune - in fact, it was hard for me to narrow it down to two.
"Dominick the Italian Christmas Donkey" recorded by Lou Monte in 1960, is one of my family's favorite Christmas songs. Coming from a predominantly Italian family, my mother, brother, nephew and I can be seen and heard singing and dancing around to this song every year. We even found a couple silly music videos for the song on YouTube.com that we like to watch and share with our friends.
It's the kind of song that makes you smile and you can't help but laugh at the silly donkey sounds, tap your feet to the catchy beat and sing along to lyrics like these:
Santa's got a little friend,
His name is Dominick.
The cutest little donkey,
You never see him kick.
When Santa visits his paisons,
With Dominick he'll be.
Because the reindeer cannot,
Climb the hills of Italy.
"White Christmas," a very different type of holiday tune than "Dominick," is a song that many have recorded, but in my opinion, only Bing Crosby does it best. There is just something about Crosby's voice that I absolutely love.
"White Christmas" was written by Irving Berlin in 1940 and Crosby first performed it on the NBC radio show "The Kraft Music Hall" on Christmas day in 1941. Crosby also performed the song in the films "Holiday Inn" in 1942 and "White Christmas" in 1954.
Since I live two hours away from my family, it makes me think of them and all of the Christmases we have spent together. It makes me think of Christmas decorations and colorful light displays, Christmas cookies and snow, being with family and laughing at old stories - all the reasons why I love the Christmas season.
'(I've Been Dreaming of) A Smoky Mountain Christmas'
By DANA BORICK
Each Christmas, I look forward to finding the made-for-television movie, "Smoky Mountain Christmas," on CMT.
Starring Dolly Parton and Lee Majors, this movie was a childhood favorite in my family. The same goes for the movie's soundtrack.
With songs written and performed by the extremely prolific Parton, "(I've Been Dreaming of) A Smoky Mountain Christmas" is an earworm that's well worth it.
It's tough to find this track online - there are some YouTube videos with clips from the movie - but it's worth the search. This heartwarming movie about a singer, orphans, witches and a handsome mountain man also features several other songs by Parton, including "Mountain Magic," "Pretty is as Pretty Does" and "All Wrapped Up In You."
Here's a little taste:
I'm dreaming of a Smoky Mountain Christmas
With the kids around the fireplace
Stringing popcorn for the tree
I'm dreaming of a Smoky Mountain Christmas
With nothing much that money buys
But everything worth while in life
Dreamin' of a Smoky Mountain Christmas
If that doesn't get you in the holiday spirit, you really are a Scrooge.
'Tennessee Christmas' and "Nutcracker"
By MARK NANCE
Christmas, to me, is always the time to be with family, most of whom are still in Nashville, Tenn., where I grew up. The song "Tennessee Christmas" by Amy Grant always reminds me of a house full of family and sometimes friends for a big Christmas dinner.
One year during the late '80s my nieces and nephews, who were still young, gave a play for the rest of the family. With the help of a recording on a cassette tape player, they sang this song in their skit. Now, whenever I hear that song it reminds me of those family get-togethers on Christmas, especially when I can't make it down there for the holidays.
Music from Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker" also reminds me of family. My family always celebrated my parents's wedding anniversary on Dec. 15, with shrimp coctail, steak grilled by my father and baked potatoes. We would always set up and decorate the Christmas tree to the music of "The Nutcracker."
'Baby, It's Cold Outside' and 'Christmas Wrapping'
By ALYSSA MURPHY
I'll go out on a limb and explain that my two favorite Christmas songs really are not all that Christmas-y. That might say something about my character, but I actually love Christmas songs, not something you often hear from people who used to work in retail.
My absolute favorite Christmas song is "Baby, It's Cold Outside," which is a song about a woman who needs to get home and a man who does not want to let her.
I know some of the lyrics are a little ... strange, but I love this song. The duet sounds so beautiful and fun. It reminds me of those cold winter nights that you don't want to go out in the storm, you just want to stay in and keep warm.
I also just love how she starts bringing her family in as a reason for why she has to get home. Her mother will worry; her father will pace; her sister will be suspicious; her brother will be waiting at the door; her maiden aunt has a vicious mind. Even though I live almost two hours away from my parents, they always want me to call them when I get home for the night, so I know how she feels!
My other favorite song is "Christmas Wrapping," which is about a woman who spent all year trying to go on a date with this man, but their schedules never work. Then on Christmas Eve, they realize they both forgot cranberries and find each other in line.
This song has the catchiest beat I've ever heard in a Christmas song. It moves very quickly, so you have to hear it a few times and stare at lyric sheets to understand what's going on.
Once again, this song gives some great excuses as to why they could never get together. As a pale, part Irish girl, what appeals to me the most is:
We tried, we said we'd keep in touch.
Didn't, of course, 'til summertime,
Out to the beach to his boat could I join him?
No, this time it was me,
Sunburn in the third degree.
It might be strange that my favorite songs do not talk about that warm feeling of Christmas I enjoy or the stories that inspire it, but sometimes you just need to blast the radio and dance around with someone. These songs do that for me!
'Still, Still, Still'
BY KRISTA STORM
Christmas is crazy. The shopping, the wrapping, the cooking, the decorating, the traveling - it is go, go, go! And I find most of the Christmas-themed music to be just as frenetic. Lots of jingly bells, zooming sleighs, flying critters and all that wassailing that needs to be done. It is hard to find a calming moment this time of year to just sit quietly and not feel guilty about being unproductive for a second. I think that is why I enjoy this song so much. I'm not a huge Mannheim Steamroller fan, but this song always makes me take a deep breath and STOP. I remember last year I was tackling a mountain of presents that had to be wrapped and shipped that day, and I wasn't even paying attention to the music playing in the background. But then "Still, Still, Still" came on and ... I did just that. I stopped wrapping. I sat down and just looked at my Christmas tree. The beautiful lights. The smell of the pine. The tinsel. Ahhhhh.
I need more "still" not only at Christmas but all year long.