My Top 3 unconventional go-to albums for keeping the holiday spirit alive

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For as long as I can remember, the Christmas Yuletide always came through swiftly on the heels of Thanksgiving. I’m a person that needs things to marinate a little while before I move onto the next thing, so naturally I always resented this. In true Sagittarian fashion, the fall season, Thanksgiving, and the changing of leaves has always held a special place in my heart. The coming of Christmas, to me, signaled a changing of seasons I was – and truthfully, have never been – ready for. The emphasis on starting the Santa Claus show so soon after was a justly considered jolt to the system once it dawned on me that every store I went into slyly made the switch to holiday tunes. 

Now, I’m no ba-humbug! I love Christmas time, just not as much as other people. The Yuletide merriment was always present in my life thanks to my grandmother, who had over 200 Santas stashed away throughout the year just waiting for the right time to put them out on display. Then, add in my father, who is very much on board with the immediate arrival of the Christmas train post-turkey.

It’s because of these two that I have my select classics, Christmas hymns and ballads. One of my personal favorites; “Christmas Time Is Here” by Vince Guaraldi featured on an impeccable festive classic, Charlie Brown Christmas, brings me a sense of peace that only the Yule time can. Over the years, my parents have come to trust my musical taste, and so we take turns selecting the perfect jams for our spiked eggnog and Christmas roast.

I typically let my parents handle the classics, which gives me some room to get creative with our holiday soundtrack. I’ve queued up all kinds of sounds for the family affair, but there have been some definite standouts in the musical Christmas repertoire. Keep an open mind as we go through my Top Three Unconventional Christmas Albums:

1) A LaFace Family Christmas, 1993 

As a true R&B fanatic there’s really nothing that brings me more joy than belting out romance any time of year. That said, it’s really special when the Christmas bells bring in that extra nostalgic heartwarming. A “LaFace Family Christmas” is a Christmas album compilation by LaFace Records, featuring some of our pop culture favorites like TLC, Usher, Toni Braxton, and Outkast.  There is no shortage of flavor on this album! When I first found this album a few Yuletides ago, I remember putting it on shuffle and as soon as “Player’s Ball” came on the entire mood of our Christmas instantly became a much cooler, much more playalistic affair. I can almost guarantee that if you hit that green play button on the Spotify app, your Christmas cheer will surely be set on high, only with much more groove and all the good rhythm and blues that only our best ’90s babies can provide.

2) A Very Special Christmas, 1987 

Now, this album is yet another funky classic, perfectly bringing in the pop culture influences of the ’80s. As one of the most supreme Christmas compilations, put together by Jimmy Iovine, it features notable acts like The Pointer Sisters, Whitney Houston, Eurythmics, Stevie Nicks, and so many more. Even though I’m not a huge fan of the ’80s era, I felt compelled to include this album because during the holiday season it has a really impactful energy and sound. What better to bring in the Christmas time merriment than that sound of synthesized whimsy or a hearth-inspiring ballad?

3) Christmas Blues, 2020

Since we are moving into a new year, it’s imperative that we dig into some of the more recently compiled albums. To cover that ground, and a new genre that goes beyond the influence of pop culture, we’re getting into the deep, deep Christmas Blues. Historically speaking, the blues have made it into every aspect of our musical ear.  It’s only right that the essence of heart-panging, pining, soul-shaking blues makes it into our Yuletide celebrations. Bringing an air of funk, the electricity of excitement, and smooth seductive vocals, your Christmas is sure to take on a sweet melancholy that pairs oh so well with the inherent nostalgia of holiday cheer.



About this Author

Vanessa Edwards

Vanessa Edwards is an expressionist artist, writer, producer, and designer recently relocated from Brooklyn, NY to hometown Manchester, NH. Vanessa thrives on intuitive insight, creating work that aligns with her passions and personal values of experimentation and creative expression.