My Wife is Good for Nothing
Every year from her church's wishing tree
she plucks the tag of a family in need,
usually one with several children.
Then she buys presents, not one for each of them,
but several - nice things like dolls, pajamas,
coats, toy trucks, an electronic game,
enough to fill the floor beneath their tree.
Imagine Christmas morning, and the joy of these kids
who otherwise might have got little or nothing.
She remains anonymous, a secret Santa.
For all that goodness, she expects nothing in return,
not even a thank you, although sometimes
she does receive one through the church.
We should all have this huge a heart.
We should all be so good for nothing.
And since it's the holiday season again, I've trucked out my Christmas CD collection to put such music in heavy rotation (though these days I seem to rely more and more on Spotify and my Amazon music files). Anyway, here are 50 of my all-time favorite Christmas albums, roughly in order, representing a range of pop, rock, classical, jazz and traditional music. Some of these may now be out of print or hard to find, but they are worth seeking.
1. A Charlie Brown Christmas - Vince Guaraldi
2. December - George Winston
3. Noël - Joan Baez
4. The New Possibility - John Fahey
5. A Festival of Carols in Brass - Philadelphia Brass Ensemble
6. We Three Kings - The Roches
7. On Yoolis Night - Anonymous 4
8. The Bells of Dublin - The Chieftains
9. A Christmas Gift for You - Phil Spector et al.
10.The Jethro Tull Christmas Album - Jethro Tull
11. Handel: Messiah - Toronto Symphony Orch./Toronto Mendelssohn Choir/Andrew Davis
12. Tchaikovsky: The Nutcracker (Complete Ballet) - London Symphony Orchestra/Charles Mackerras
13. Noël: Christmas at King's - King's College Choir, Cambridge
14. A Winter's Solstice - Various Artists (Windham Hill)
15. The Peace Album - Paul Horn
16. Celtic Christmas - Various Artists (Windham Hill)
17. In Dulci Jubilo - James Galway
18. Ultimate Christmas - The Beach Boys
19. Holiday Spirits - Straight No Chaser
20. The Spirit of Christmas - Mormon Tabernacle Choir
21. Christmas with Robert Shaw - Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus/Robert Shaw, cond.
22. It's a Holiday Soul Party! - Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings
23. Daquin: 12 Noëls - Christopher Herrick, organ
24. Sounds of the Season - Maggie Sansome
25. To Drive the Cold Winter Away - Loreena McKennitt
26. A Canadian Brass Christmas - The Canadian Brass
27. Acoustic Christmas - Various Artists (CBS Records)
28. Christmas with the Puppini Sisters - The Puppini Sisters
29. Strange Communion - Thea Gilmore
30. James Taylor at Christmas - James Taylor
31. Christmas - Bruce Cockburn
32. The Best of B.B. King Christmas Collection/20th Century Masters - B.B. King
33. Light of the Stable - Emmylou Harris
34. A Tapestry of Carols - Maddy Prior and the Carnival Band
35. Winter - Steeleye Span
36. Songs for Christmas - Sufjan Stevens
37. Tinsel and Lights - Tracey Thorn
38. A Very Special Christmas 1 and 2 - Various Artists
39. Christmas with the Smithereens - The Smithereens
40. On Christmas Night - Cherish the Ladies
41. My Holiday - Mindy Smith
42. Snow Angels - Over the Rhine
43. 12 Songs of Christmas - Etta James
44. Wintersong - Sarah McLachlan
45. Christmas Songs - Diana Krall
46. Come Darkness, Come Light: Twelve Songs of Christmas - Mary Chapin Carpenter
47. A Holiday Carole - Carole King
48. The McGarrigle Christmas Hour - Kate and Anna McGarrigle, et al.
49. Christmas Time Again - The dB's et al.
50. Christmas Means Love - Joan Osborne
Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Holidays!