The Best Holiday Music for You and Your Family
50+ songs for festive family fun.
by Max Berry
December 8, 2009
Whether you and your kids spin the dreidel, leave cookies for St. Nick, or practice traditions all your own, here are five albums that eschew holiday music clich’ without losing the spirit of the season. – Max Berry
Everybody loves a singing kid, but these songs don’t just settle for cute. Take the wrenching “Bring Him Home Santa,” in which a young girl wants nothing more than her dad’s return from the army. At first it seems like the absent father could be anywhere – until the girl mentions the picture she drew of him in his dress blues, and the possibilities narrow considerably.
“Got a pocket full of gelt and I’m down to play,” declares Hebrew school teacher turned kids’ music maven Mama Doni on this disco tribute to the festival of lights. The spirit of an all-ages club lit by menorahs carries through on songs like “The Funky Gold Menorah” and “La Vida Dreidel.”But Mama Doni is more interested in sharing joy than jokes; her odes – to the spoils of a victorious game of dreidel, to a menschy descendent of Judah Maccabee– may be light-hearted, but they are also sincere.
If Mama Doni is the young person’s Donna Summer, the Uncle Brothers are a kid-friendly Tenacious D. Not-actually-brothers Danny Quinn and Tommy Gardner update “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” with requests for sneaker skates and iPods, put a slobbery dog underneath the mistletoe and imagine Santa signing up for aerobics classes at his wife’s urging. The liberties they take with holiday standards will play as well with parents as with kids.
You already know most of these songs by heart, but before you decide that neither you nor your kids need another version of “Holly Jolly Christmas,” consider that its performed by folk hero Martin Sexton. His softly swinging tunes, like Leon Redbone’s “Let It Snow” and Deana Carter’s “Winter Wonderland,” possess a warmth that will have the kids asking for “grown-up music” more often.
The season Stewart speaks of is all-encompassing. A song called “Kwanzaa” kicks off an album that, over the course of thirty-eight minutes, makes time for four languages, many continents and songs about piñatas and camels carrying kings. Season will resonate with people of various faiths and backgrounds, but Stewart’s voice, which bears a resemblance to Joni Mitchell’s, is the kind that unites.
This article was written by Max Berry for Babble.com, the magazine and community for a new generation of parents.