An unfiltered fire hose of flaming condemnation

Baby, it’s cold outside

This weekend we finally carved out several hours to set up Christmas decorations, and I am not at all exaggerating when I refer to that time in hours. I don’t know why I thought it would be a good idea to buy 25 boxes of round ornaments, or why I thought the tree would have enough branches to hold that many, but we hadn’t been hanging ornaments for thirty minutes before Leta announced she was bored. There were still 17 or 18 boxes of ornaments waiting patiently for a place on the tree, 17 or 18 boxes that I did not have the heart to send back up into that freezing attic space, and I suddenly remembered having this exact conversation with my own mother. I always got tired of helping her hang ornaments and would wander off to play with a box of Barbies, leaving her to do the bulk of the work. And since my mother was too generous to say what she was thinking, I went ahead told Leta what my mother should have said to me all those years: SUCK IT, KID.

You’re welcome, Mom.

We’d been watching episode after episode of Spongebob all morning, and as Jon twisted a section of the artificial tree into place (he’s allergic to real ones) he suggested I turn on some festive holiday music. And as I walked back to my computer to sift through our music collection I realized we don’t have much to choose from. In fact, in the years that Jon and I have been together we’ve purchased only one album of Christmas music, A Charlie Brown Christmas, which has to be the most depressing Christmas music of all time. If you weren’t on Prozac before you listened to that album, you’ll be begging your therapist for a prescription by song two. That little bald kid cannot catch a break, and the whole album sounds like someone just beat him up and stole his lunch money. If the album were a Christmas card it would say, “I wanted to wish you a Merry Christmas despite my raging insecurities and social awkwardness.” Basically, a sentence out of my diary in college.

After doing a quick search on iTunes, I realized I had no idea what I was looking for. Because whatever we play during this season is going to form lasting memories for Leta. I can appreciate the classics by Nat King Cole and Dean Martin, but my most fond memories of Christmas are always to the soundtrack of a kooky Osmond Family holiday album, or Alvin and the Chipmunks. I want to find something as equally nutty because, come on. THIS HOLIDAY IS NUTTY. Think about it. We’re telling our four and five-year-olds that a fat man breaks into the house by sliding down the chimney. AND WE DON’T SHOOT HIM. We’re asking them to believe that deer can fly. Seriously. This is not much different than telling them that once a year millions of people across the world strip naked and hop into a bathtub full of mustard. Why? Because Christ was born!

Noel!

The one album I did find that looked interesting is called Merry Mixmas, basically all the holiday classics remixed by DJ’s in a thoroughly modern way. It’s fantastic, very catchy, and I downloaded the entire album from iTunes within minutes. But nutty it is not.

So I’m looking for suggestions, even though the answer may be to stick with The Chipmunks. Do you know of a Christmas album we should not live without?


  • The John Denver / Muppets Christmas album. This is tradition in my husband’s family and I have to say, after the first 3 or 4 years, it has definitely become embedded in my brain. It’s a mix of traditional and kooky Muppets stuff.

    http://www.amazon.com/Christmas-Together-John-Denver/dp/B000GFLJFE/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1228773680&sr=8-6

  • Liz

    I gotta second the Sufjan Stevens vote. It is one seriously charming Christmas album.

  • Ali

    Bare Naked Ladies Christmas album. I’m not usually a fan, but their covers are fun and quirky and light. A highlight is a duet with the aforementioned Sarah M.

    Plus, the title is “Bare Naked for the Holidays.”

    It just keeps on giving.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HGVNzgUxE-g&feature=related

  • Anonymous

    John Prine’s Christmas

  • Hands down: Diana Krall Christmas Songs

  • Most of our Christmas music is free CD’s from Canadian Tire. Pathetic and entirely Canadian artists.

  • Okay, I should finish reading before posting.

    None of those are particularly nutty – (Maybe Run, Run, Rudolph or whatever the hell it’s called.)

    Christmas Wrapping by the Waitresses is a fun 80’s classic.

    And if you’re of my generation, “Funky, Funky Christmas” by the New Kids on the Block is fun… but if you’re NOT a fan of theirs (or weren’t) I do think their “I Still Believe In Santa Claus” is a cute song.

    I love Christmas music.

  • LizardBreath

    The Time Life collections are excellent – very traditional.

  • Hayley

    Being Jewish, and having worked in retail for 8 years after high school, I have a bit of a love hate relationship with holiday tunes. A few here and there and I can muster a grin and maybe hum a few bars. More than that, I get the feeling like someone is going to yell at me for being sold out of something the MUST have RIGHT NOW!

    So, my one and only all year long enjoyable holiday song is “Fairytale of New York” by the Pogues and Kristy MacColl.

    Not the nuttiest, or perhaps the most appropriate for you to share with Lita just yet, but a great song anyway.

    Best of luck on your music hunt.

  • Wendy

    Jingle Cats, John Denver and the Muppets, A Christmas Cocktail (http://www.amazon.com/Christmas-Cocktail-Jaymz-Royal-Orchestra/dp/B0000015NI), and the KING of all wacky Christmas albums: A Star Wars Christmas (http://www.amazon.com/Christmas-Stars-Star-Wars-Album/dp/B0000033VG).

  • mommylap

    The Phil Spector Christmas Album. Best arrangements of classic carols with just enough nuttiness.

  • Another vote for Sufjan Stevens. It’s pretty nutty, though maybe not the kind of nutty you have in mind.

  • The John Denver + the Muppets Christmas albums is probably my favorite, hands down.

    For the non-traditional (and possibly not recommended for kids) check out the No Ho Ho Alternative Indie Xmas album (which features the classics, My First Christmas (As a Woman) and Stoned Soul Christmas)…

    My favorite holiday songs this year: Feliz Navidad (always), Let it Snow by Luscious Jackson and She’s a Ho, Ho, Ho, Merry Christmas by Patent Pending.

  • The Supersuckers’ “Motherfuckers be trippin'” … oh wait, did you say Christmas music? Oh, yeah, I got nothing for that.

  • We just hung up ornaments this weekend too. What we do is put on Xmas movies: “White Christmas” or “Holiday Inn”

  • Charlotte

    There are 2 CDs called Nick at Night: A Classic Cartoon Christmas. They have songs from all of the Christmas cartoons we watched as kids… as well as some freaky ones. (Mr. Magoo anyone?)

  • The best suggestion I can offer for that is to check my blog from last week. While this looks like a not-so-cleverly disguised ploy to attract new readers, it’s really just my answer to that question. My ex made a pretty awesome mix and I put all the songs (plus a few of my own) on there!

  • Zoe

    Hello Heather. I’ve only just started reading your blog and I love it! (Congrats to you by the way – I’m 12 weeks pregnant and know how you feel). I think for kooky, you can’t beat the Chipmunk Christmas Song but two of my Christmas soul classics are Mavin Gaye’s “Purple Snowflakes” and Donny Hathaway’s “This Christmas.” You could try subjecting Leta to some of the old claymation Christmas specials we used to have on TV in the early 80s? They’re pretty kooky, after a fashion?

  • Sara

    The Carpenter’s Christmas album! This is the album my mother made us listen to when we were young, but I can’t imagine being without it now!

    And definitely get The Darkest Night of the Year by Over the Rhine – it’s very chill, but excellent. I haven’t heard their newest one, but this one is just about perfect.

  • Ashley

    I gave up on the albums and made my own mix…where else can you find Eartha Kitt, NKTOB, Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, Barenaked Ladies, and (of course) the Chipmunks playing together in a weird and merry way? I do have to disagree with you, though, about the Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack. I hear “Christmas is Coming” and immediately start dancing Peanuts-style 🙂

  • Kerri

    Brian Setzer Orchestra has several great holiday albums — a twist on the classics plus really fun originals. My nieces and nephews LOVE the whole big band/swing vibe. One of my favs is Boogie Woogie Christmas.

  • I’m sorry to say I don’t have a favorite Christman album I play for my kids. We usually resort to internet music via yahoo. It comes with our account. And if I’m not sleep deprived I don’t normally mind listening to the same twenty songs over and over and over for three weeks. There is a kids xmas(with some chipmonks music) station and a more traditional grown up xmas station. I prefer the kids Christmas music myself. I am happy to say my kids hung up all the ornaments on our tree. Yes, the top and back are a bit bare, but it’s so much better than doing it myself.

  • It’s not an album, but whenever my husband and I are looking for nutty Christmas music inspiration we load up somafm.com’s “Xmas in Frisko” station. Some of the songs require screening for attentive 4-year-old ears, but the majority are weird and fun and totally memorable. A lot of their choices are artists that have entire albums of off-the-wall Christmas music (as opposed to one-off singles).

  • Sophia

    Check out the Christmas CD by the Squirrel Nut Zippers. Very fun.

  • faz

    Not necessarily nutty, but a little more modern holiday:
    -Come Darkness, Come Light by Mary Chapin Carpenter
    -Do You Hear What I Hear, Various Artists (Nettwerk)
    -The Hotel Cafe Presents Winter Songs (esp. Sara Baraielles (sp?) and Brandi Carlisle)
    -My Holiday, Mindy Smith
    -The Spirit of Giving, New Pornographers
    -Peace at Last, Hem
    -One more drifter in the Snow, Aimee Mann
    -Cool Yule, Bette Midler

    Definitely nutty: Suddenly it’s Christmas, Loudon Wainwright III

  • Anonymous

    The radio! Turn to any station that you don’t normally listen to, and it’ll probably be playing christmas music. If not, change up or down a few until you find one that is. Funny thing is, they don’t play a few x-mas songs at a time, it’s 24/7 until January.

  • My sister and I used to poop out on our mom when decorating the tree, but once we got to be teenagers she made us stick around to finish it (bad attitudes and all–I guess sullen help is better than no help).

    I think Leta needs to hear “me I want a huuuula hoooooop” on the Chipmunks album. It’s a rite of passage!

  • I am partial to a lot of classic music but you asked for memories for Leta… so I asked my kiddos for their must-hear Christmas tunes. Their answers: Disney Classic Christmas (not pop Disney, I’m talking Mickey & Goofy singing 12 Days of Christmas) and Rockapella Christmas (which is available on iTunes) their rendition of the Grinch is a big hit around here.

  • Olivia

    “The Muppet Christmas Carol” is a must. It’s probably the best movie version of the book. It’s so fucking adorable and the songs are so catchy(“Only One More Sleep ’til Christmas”, we sing this all year round, except during July we always say stuff like “Only 157 More Sleeps ’til Christmas”).

    My best Christmas memories are watching this movie in the cold, December winter of Indianapolis with my aunt. I remember the whole house having a dimly lit Christmas glow, with the presents all already under the tree and the three of us eating Russian Creme Custard that we only get during this time of year. I really cannot recommend this movie more, actually. It has the same kind of spunky yet traditional Christmas spirit that the Chipmunks have.

  • Heather

    Boney M Christmas Album

  • MustangSally

    This is why I love Rhapsody, Pandora and other online radio stations. All the music, none of the commitment. There are a ton of Christmas-only stations. Here are some: http://www.live365.com/cgi-bin/directory.cgi?genre=seasonal%2fholiday.

  • ST

    Not an album but a song, “I want a Hippopotamus for Christmas”. I love this song and started singing it one day to annoy my husband, but he ended up liking it, so now we walk around the house singing/humming this song and it is hysterical. Now my 4 year old niece loves it and I know we’ll be singing it for our own kids one day, ha ha!

  • Beth

    THE WAITRESSES – Christmas Wrapping

    Best X-Mas song ever!

  • Tarynn

    Elvis, Baby! Love the Elvis Christmas Album-just kitchy enough. Also, Harry Connick Jr. Christmas stuff is awesome. I was a chipmunk Xmas baby, too.

  • India

    Have you heard of Sufjan Stevens? I just finally got his Christmas EP collection this year, and I can’t stop listening to it. And I’m pretty picky about most holiday music – if it’s not Mahalia Jackson, or Dr Demento’s Christmas album, I’ll block it out or turn if off. (Oh, also, the south park christmas songs).

    Speaking of, do they have the Dr Demento Christmas ‘Novelty’ album on Itunes? My favorite all-time Christmas song since before I can remember is Cheech and Chong’s “Santa Claus and His Old Lady” – even before I could understand most the jokes. A close second is “Nuttin for Christmas” which I’m sure Leta will be able to relate to soon 🙂 (“I’m gettin nuttin for Christmas…. cuz I ain’t been nuttin but bad”)

  • Darrell

    CHRIS BOTTI – DECEMBER is an outstanding CD

  • Katy

    I must say the Veggietales christmas album is fantastic. I mean the 12 Polish foods of Christmas is probably the best part, but junior asparagus belting out a song about sheep is pretty much as cute as it gets. I suggest that one. (We have it and we don’t even have young kids at home…yet)

  • Erin

    I grew up listening to Elvis Presley’s Christmas music. It is most wonderful and deeply fitting considering your southern roots.

  • Anonymous

    Is it ok that I really can’t stand Christmas?

  • my favorite christmas record is a very special christmas volume 1. my mom listened to it as we grew up and i love it.

    and of course, the chipmunks.

  • I never comment here, but I am delurking to say GET “BARENAKED FOR THE HOLIDAYS” BY THE BARENAKED LADIES. GET IT NOW!

    It is nutty, oh so very nutty.

    And it has a couple of just really nice ones mixed in to make you feel a little warm and fuzzy, too.

    And since I went through the effort of clicking over from Google Reader and delurking, you know I feel a lot of love for this album. I’d love to hear what you think of it.

  • Brianne

    The Carpenter’s, A Christmas Portrait. I grew up listening to it on my mom’s record player every year. Loves it.

  • Tim Murtaugh

    I must pile on and suggest John Denver and the Muppets. Amazing, nutty, lovely, even poignant at times.

  • The nuttiest album I know is Elmo and Patsy’s Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer. My grandma got me hooked on it years ago. I bought her a mechanical reindeer that sang it even.

    http://www.amazon.com/Grandma-Got-Run-Over-Reindeer/dp/B00000263B

  • Twin Sis

    My Morning Jacket has a wonderful Christmas EP. It’s only 3 or 4 songs, but they’re lovely (although a little on the mellow side).

    I also like the Hotel Cafe CD that came out this year (not every song, but most), and I love the Barenaked Ladies/Sarah McLaughlin duet, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.

    Lastly, I will join with the others above who have recommended Sufjan Steven’s X-mas CDs…the whole collection is amazing!

    Happy Holidays, Dooce!

  • Oh, and if by nutty you mean weird, Aimee Mann’s Christmas album. Cause Aimee Mann doing Christmas is freakin’ weird.

  • My personal favorites are Amy Grant, but that’s pretty religious, and Celine Dion. Mariah Carey is always fun! None of those are too nutty though.

    My recommendation for you – The Beach Boys!

  • wookie

    Personally, I tend towards the instrumental Christmas albums, I’ve got a Jazz/Blues themed album, a couple of typical orchestral mixes, one that is predominately piano, one brass. I just find them FAR less annoying than the ones where anyone is singing.

  • Anonymous

    Elvis presley…awesome christmas album

  • ruk

    Swing into Christmas with the Brian Setzer Orchestra!

    http://www.myspace.com/bsoxmas

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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