Throughout my childhood, the coming of Christmas meant that the giant six-hour Christmas tape would be threaded into the reel-to-reel player, filling our home with a constant loop of holiday music drawn primarily from the 40+ songs included on the original Time-Life Treasury of Christmas. This set of albums featured classic songs by unparalleled artists - Ella Fitzgerald's "Jingle Bells," Gene Autry's "Rudolph," Julie Andrews' "Joy to the World," an indispensable dose of Johnny Mathis and of course a couple from Elvis. Perhaps this is why I have so much trouble listening to any Christmas music recorded after 1972, but I think the real reason is that all Christmas music recorded after 1972 is, quite simply, ridiculous.
This point was emphasized for me when we pointed the satellite toward XM's "Holly" channel. The constant stream of Amy Grant, Celine Dion and Clay Aiken is just about enough to send me crawling back to the analog altar of my youth. With the single self-righteous, religiously confused yet relentlessly appealing exception of "Do They Know It's Christmas," I unilaterally dismiss all seasonal music offered by or to my generation. XM would truly be earning its fee if it thought to separate Christmas music out by decade, or at least at the dividing point between good and horrendous (that point occurring, of course, in the joyless 13-year void between John Lennon's "Happy Christmas" and Wham's "Last Christmas"). Because really, all I want for Christmas is to be able to hear The Ronettes harmonizing about their "Sleigh Ride" without having to worry that Mannheim's Steamroller is following right behind.