I love Christmas music, but always long for something besides the mainstream songs played over and over on the radio.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the classics; both old hymns and secular songs. But sometimes my mind needs a refresher to snap out of the routine. (Don’t we all?) I’m amazed at how well music can do that.

I’ve always been a fan of the artist Andrew Bird, known for his strong whistling and impressive violin playing. According to Wikipedia, he’s released fifteen albums since 1996, along with being part of a few side projects.

This Christmas season, he’s released an album, titled “Hark.” It’s a fresh take on this time of year. Most tracks are instrumental, with winter-themed titles such as, “Skating” or “Christmas is Coming.” He limits himself to a couple covers of “Oh Holy Night” and “White Christmas,” which could be boring. But the gentleness in his voice overpowers the monotony these songs and their lyrics sometimes bring.

A lot of the time, my daughter’s choices dominate what we listen to, especially now that she knows how to work the music app on our Roku, a device that allows us to watch shows and movies without needing a cable subscription. And I don’t mind listening to her choices. I enjoy informing and encouraging her to learn the Christmas music I once learned. It’s all new to her. 

Yet, I still need time, whether I’m in my car or at the house, to listen to something new and fresh. I go through periods where I don’t look for new music to explore. I simply turn on the radio and that’s enough. But then something stirs. Especially when an artist I admire comes out with a new album, which is why I was so thrilled when Bird released not only something new, but an addition to the holiday music repertoire.

Other seasons, such as Easter, have a few songs we’ve heard and know, but Christmas is different. Despite it being a joyous time, both for Christians and non, celebrating the birth of Jesus (whether he was born at this time of year or not) or the idea of Santa and gift-giving, Christmas wins in regard to the amount of music dedicated to it. Perhaps it’s because it’s the darkest time of year. People need something to uplift their spirits and help them get through their seasonal depression.

My daughter’s current favorite Christmas songs are “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “Jingle Bell Rock.” The other day we heard a rendition of one of the slower classics, I can’t remember which one, and after the song was over, she commented, “that was pretty.” Her music taste is broad, like mine.

This Christmas season seems extra busy. We are in the process of remodeling our kitchen. There are parties and presents and other tasks at hand, one in particular I’ll share in my next column. But music, good music, always helps me slow down. I need a reminder that giving gifts is a joyful thing. Christmas, despite its busyness is fun and reverential. And I’m grateful music reminds me of that.

Justa Lanie Garrett is a lifelong resident of Baytown.

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