Tag Archives: Christmas

The Vandersluys Christmas Music Canon

This Vandersluys household has a semi-closed canon of Christmas music.  Here are our favourites, in order of play time:

1. A Charlie Brown Christmas – The Vince Gauraldi Trio

This is the hands-down winner. Some days the first thing we do when we get up is shuffle over to the stereo and press “play” (A Charlie Brown Christmas already being in the cd-player). When I remember, I will set the stereo to “repeat all”, such that the soundtrack will play indefinitely.  The trio’s warm, smooth jazz really marks Christmas (in the sense of “the holiday season”) for us.

2. Christmas – Bruce Cockburn

Bruce Cockburn is one of a handful of artists whom Dixie and I wholeheartedly agree on, and this is a Cockburn classic. It combines sacred music with artistic skill. He takes sacred Christmas standards and puts his own stamp on them. It’s a quality album.

I think it’s fair to say that there is a wide gap, in terms of air-play, between the first two and what follows. But don’t let that fool you, as they are all quality albums

3. Feast of Seasons – Steve Bell

For similar reasons as the Cockburn album, though Steve Bell includes original material as well.

4. Do You Hear…: Christmas with Heather, Cookie and Raylene Rankin (of the Rankin Family)

The opening song–“Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree”–is what does it for me, but the rest of the album is top-notch as well.  Lots of tight harmonies. It’s Christmas with an East Coast Gaelic twist.

5. A Prairie Home ChristmasGarrison Keillor (and the whole Prairie Home Companion gang)

This one was added to the canon last Christmas. Warm, funny, sometimes sacred. A mix of carols, humourous songs, and comedy sketches on 2 CDs. Our kids particularly enjoy the sound-effects version of “The Twelve Days of Christmas”.

Honourable mentions:

• Child – Jane Siberry.  Dixie is a huge Jane Siberry fan. I have mixed feelings. She has moments of brilliance musical beauty and moments of eye-raising oddness. At any rate, this is a 2-disc live Christmas album.

Confession: the live version of her song “Hockey”, which is on this album, once made me cry.

Christmas with James Last – James Last

For purely nostalgic reasons. It gets nothing but eye-rolls and mockery from Dixie, but I better make sure the record gets some airtime this year. Maybe I should download it from emusic.com.


The blogging malaise continues.  At this rate, I may start posting some of my sermon material.  Would that be too pretentious?  I suppose I could post it without saying it’s sermon material, but I’m sure it would be riddled with tells.

* * *

On Sunday my thoughts for the sermon were based around the question, Jesus is born; now what?  Took a while to find direction for that one.  The business of preparing for Christmas and various Christmas events made it (ironically) hard for me to focus, but I did finally put it together.

In recent years it has not only bothered me that I fall into the “what am I getting?” Christmas mindset, neglecting the sacred element of Christmas for the materialistic in spite of good intentions at the beginning of the Advent season, but it also has started to bother me that Christmas in practice begins and ends on December 25 (in spite of the 12 days the Christian calendar gives it).  Boxing Day is shopping day and then life goes back to normal.

But Christmas signifies a beginning–it signifies that God is on the move–and Jesus, when he calls us to “follow me and I will teach you to fish for people”, invites us to participate in the new thing that God is doing.  So really, unless we really don’t get it, life could not or should not ever go back to “normal” after Christmas.  Christmas is not the end but the beginning.

I believe this to be true.  But I commented to someone after the service that I felt like a bit of a fraud when I wrote and preached the sermon, because if history is any indication, my life is likely to go back to “normal” after Christmas.  Frustrating.  I suspect I don’t fully “get” it yet.

* * *

I’ve been thinking about how fast the beginning of 2009 will pass.  Next week I have a normal work week. On Wednesday of the following week, I fly out to Summerland with Olivia to visit my family for a couple of days.  The Monday following Luke goes for ear and throat surgery.  Shorter work week.  The week following that is a normal work week.  Then I fly out to Chicago for a week (provided my passport application isn’t rejected) for a church conference.  Then it’s almost the middle of February.  In the middle of all that I have a couple of sermons to preach (which inevitably requires evening preparation time) plus seminary work to do (on top of “normal” obligations).  In March Luke turns 4; in April Olivia turns 2 and Dixie turns 30.  April may also include another trip to BC.  Then in May I’ll be struggling to get everything done for the June 10 deadline for my seminary course.  And who knows what summer and autumn have in store.

2009 will pass very quickly.