I thought I was in trouble this past summer when I went to put on my shorts and not one single pair of them fit. But then this fall? I discovered that with the exception of one faithful pair of jeans, most all my pants were too tight, too.
I haven’t minded turning 40 this year, but losing a big chunk of my metabolism? That I do mind.
Of course, my too-tight clothes could also be because I spent a big part of this spring through fall on my hiney writing the book and munching on snacks, but whatevs. Details, details.
Regardless, I am facing an uphill battle here, folks, because Christmas doth approacheth and I have the wickedest sweet tooth you’ve ever known. So, you might say I have a situation on my hands.
And on my hips.
But I own that anyone who knows me isn’t going to feel sorry for me because I’m tall, and height usually works to someone’s advantage. Length covers a multitude of sins, you might say. Anyway, I’m going to have to get a little willpower, roll up my sleeves and become a more time-invested friend of our treadmill. I will also practice moderation, but I refuse to universally deny myself the delights of molasses spice cookies and grandma’s fudge.
But there is something I’m dining on with abandon these days, calorie-free food that feeds the soul: Christmas music.
I love music so much that it was my college major, and to this day it feeds me like little else can. Music is one of God’s languages that thins the veil between His presence and ourselves. It is the stirrings of our inner hearts set to rhythm and notes–as varied as the people who listen to it.
As y’all may know, my two favorite types of music are classical and country, which makes me totally, completely bizarre. I know. But at Christmas, my musical tastes curve around a few more diverse bunny trails, and really that’s half the fun. There’s something for every mood of every day.
Last night I struggled with some of my own written words, words that offended someone even though I didn’t intend them to be offensive in the slightest. So, as I juggled all my topsy turvy, motion sick feelings of being out of someone’s good graces, I turned on Ellie Holcomb’s “Hope is Alive.” Soon, the hope floats in, my tears dry up, and I more strongly believe what my mama used to say: Kristen, this too shall pass. Ellie’s music is calm affirmation at its finest.
Not long ago I woke up with dawn breaking beautiful, and as I headed downstairs to make my morning chai, I hummed the tune of Point of Grace’s “Let There Be Light” off their second Christmas album, Winter Wonderland. The song’s message warmed my soul like new morning sunshine and I felt the fresh start of a new day–dark turning to dazzling white.
Saturday night we went to our big Presbyterian church and heard the wonderful, immensely talented choir sing selections from Handel’s Messiah. When the choir breaks into the “Hallelujah Chorus”, I get goosebumps galore. My hands want to be very un-Presbyterian like and reach for the air because that song is praise music that bursts skyward toward heaven.
If I’m working and have a looming deadline, I usually prefer instrumental Christmas music (songs with lyrics sometimes distract me because I can’t help but sing along). David Nevue’s entire album, O Come Emmanuel, sparks creativity. David plays with such phrasing and musicality that I can’t help but move into his music–which helps me move into inspiration. Another (mostly) instrumental Christmas album favorite is A Family Christmas by The Piano Guys (which contrary to their name is piano and cello). It’s an album whose driving tempo also coaxes the words from my brain to my fingers.
When I make dinner in the evening this time of year, I love to have an array of music playing from the Boston Pops to Pentatonix to Brad Paisley’s Christmas albums. Brad’s song that our family refers to as “the Politically Correct Christmas Song” cracks my kids up (and their parents). The Boston Pops version of “Sleigh Ride” is my all time favorite rendition of that song, and the entire album is rich like velvet. Pentatonix’s album is amazing for a hundred different reasons…brilliant and diverse compositions, perfectly blended voices, and gorgeous phrasing to name a few. Not surprisingly, the tone of music playing during dinner prep is directly proportional to the kind of day I’ve had.
And finally, while I am not the biggest fan of Frozen‘s “Let It Go,” I love this performance of it (I enjoy Pentatonix’s fun recording of it, too). On their own, it’s my general opinion that Idina and Jennifer are rather nasal-y singers–not my favorites. But for some reason, they work together here. (Maybe two wrongs do make a right? Kidding!) Both these women are immensely talented.
Kristin Hill Taylor says
I can’t stop listening to Rend Collective’s Christmas album right now.
I just checked it out–love it. xo
Feel your pain with the ol’ metabolism conundrum…Hello 4-0!!
I just discovered Michael W. Smith and Amy Grant singing “Almost There.” I’ve probably listened 15 times in 24 hours. Love the lyrics, the melody, and the instrumentation so much that I felt it warranted a blog post!! 🙂
Shauna, oh my. That song is hauntingly beautiful. Wow! And I actually posted a link last week to a Christmas song Michael W. Smith did with Carrie Underwood, but I didn’t realize it was on this same album–which includes more duets with everyone from Bono to Lady A! A thousand thank-yous for this introduction, Shauna!
Sara T says
I love Susan Boyle’s Christmas songs. Maybe it’s because I loved her “underdog” story from “Britians Got Talent” or that I listened to her Christmas recordings when I was having Sophie!!
Oh her voice is phenomenal!
Renae Goysich says
Casting Crowns Christmas Album will always be a favorite! Lots of blessings and tears!
OH how did I forget this one?? Our whole family loves this album. I often listen to their “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” on repeat. I love the instrumentation in it as much as their wonderful singing.
Lisa Mitchell says
These are two of my favorites!
Gaither Vocal Band: Still the Greatest Story Ever Told
The Martins: Light of the World
Pam T says
I love all these new suggestions this year! Our family loves Straight No Chaser’s Christmas music. And on a more contemplative note, Joy Williams’ Here With Us is beautiful. Christmas music is the best!
Teresa R says
I live in Texas so I am constantly humming “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas” by Bing Crosby. At work I play “How Many Kings” by Downhere and “Mary Did You Know” by Mark Lowry. I play Eric Dodge’s “A Christmas Wish” album before I go to sleep.
Amanda Espinoza says
This is hilarious, because I am drafting a post on how I am trying to lose some weight during the Christmas season. It’s tricky!
I LOVE Kelly Clarkson’s Christmas album, Wrapped in Red. All of it so good!
Victoria Terrinoni says
Kristen, you are such a breath of fresh air! As a Presbyterian myself, I say raise those hands to the roof. Sometimes we are so moved our stodginess has to go!
Ya know what Victoria? I often do. #rebel
Wonderful to see you here, friend. xo
Haha…I love the comment about nasal-y singers,I can’t stand that! LOL Idina Menzel is not my favorite….
Well Jamie, Great minds and all that. 😉 Love you!
Beth Williams says
On clothes that don’t fit–most of mine don’t either. This year has been stressful with work changing such I hate it & my aging dad’s health issues (moved into assisted living). I haven’t eaten or exercised the way I should. (remember Chonda Pierce’s remark about mushroom top)–need I say more.
On to music. One of my favorite albums is Matthew West’s Heart of Christmas album. I love Boston Pops and just about anything you can find on Pandora’s Christmas Cannon Radio. I listen to that ALL the time!
I am absolutely in love with Elizabeth Mitchell’s the sounding joy it is so beautiful and it is a delightful family album!