It is once again the Christmas holiday season (or at least I'm told this is the case.) I must admit that although this is my fourth Christmas being an Orlando resident, I still am adjusting to having 80 degree heat in the middle of the Christmas shopping season. There is something that just doesn't seem right about that...yet the warmth feels so good.
In conjunction with the spirit of the season, our family has gotten out our box of Christmas CD's and have been listening to them since Thanksgiving. In case you're looking for some new holiday music, here are my top favorite six Christmas albums. They are listed here in descending order, as follows:
6. Nat King Cole - Christmas Favorites
Possessing one of the smoothest and richest voices of all-time, Cole put together a great collection of traditional Christmas carols. Highlights include his well-known version of The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire) and my favorite version of my favorite Christmas song, O Holy Night.
5. Celine Dion - These are Special Times
Arguably one of the greatest singers of our age, Dion certainly gives you your money's worth on this 16-track disc that runs close to an hour and ten minutes. Highlights include The Prayer (a duet with Andrea Bocelli) and the John Lennon tune, Happy Christmas (War is Over).
4. Kirk Franklin & The Family - Christmas
Kirk is probably my favorite gospel singer and whether he is singing with The Family, God's Property, Nu Nation (or any of his other collaborations), his original writing and direction stands out. Highlights on this 1995 disc include There's No Christmas Without You , the funky Jesus is the Reason for the Season and one of his greatest songs ever, the standout track Now Behold The Lamb.
3. Amy Grant - Home for Christmas
Amy must really like Christmas since she's made three different albums focused on this holiday and this one is my favorite. She demonstrates on this record why she is the greatest selling Contemporary Christian Music artist of all-time. Highlights include I'll Be Home For Christmas, The Night Before Christmas, and the powerful Breath of Heaven (Mary's Song.)
2. Steven Curtis Chapman - The Music of Christmas
Steven is far and away my favorite singer. We even thought about naming one of our boys "Steven Curtis Crocker," but we resisted that temptation. This album is chock full of great traditional and original songs. Standout songs include This Baby, Christmas is All in the Heart (with CeCe Winans), and the theologically rich Our God is With Us.
1. The Carpenters - Christmas Portrait
It is simply not Christmas for me without listening to this 1978 album. This is THE Christmas album that my family listened to while I was growing up. Whether while we were putting up the tree, decorating the house, or relaxing in front of our fake fireplace/record & 8-track player, mini-bar thingy (my parents and sister know what I'm talking about), Karen Carpenter's beautiful voice and the splendid musical stylings of Richard was playing in the background. Listening to this CD still brings back a flood of good memories each year. Favorite songs include Sleigh Ride, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, and Karen's stunning rendition of Ave Maria.
So those are my favorite Christmas albums. What are yours?