For the most part the albums I love are the ones I grew up on, and I'm perfectly happy to listen to these few over and over for the month; every few years I'll add something new to the repertoire, but I always go back to my three childhood favorites first. Here are five albums that I listen to every year... what's on your list?
1. A Christmas Album by Amy Grant: the very first CD I ever owned, and still the first one I listen to when the Christmas season arrives. It's just a classic in my world, and that jaunty rendition of "O Little Town of Bethlehem" is my favorite out there.
2. Handel's Young Messiah: not positive, but quite possibly the 2nd acquisition in my CD collection. I can distinctly remember my grandpa saying Handel might roll over in his grave at the sound of this jazzed up Messiah (and I now most certainly roll my eyes at the CCM musicians, of the type I'd never listen to now, excepting Amy Grant at Christmas), but I adore this album. Sadly, I see it's no longer available and used copies are going for over $50 (!) on Amazon. It does make me feel like I'm holding on to gold over here though.
3. These Are Special Times by Celine Dion: my Christmastime guilty pleasure. It's so cheesy, but how can I resist a booming diva version of "O Holy Night" or "O Come All Ye Faithful"?
4. A Holiday Celebration by Peter, Paul & Mary: this is another one I grew up on, and it's just plain excellent. On top of the classic PP&M harmonies, there's a fabulous choir accompanying them, and the song selection is a nice changeup from the usual Christmas tunes (along with a few Hanukkah-themed songs, which are some of my favorites on the album).
5. Songs for Christmas by Sufjan Stevens: aside from #4, one I'm not slightly embarrassed to be putting on here... I think the mellow feel makes for perfect background music for a holiday gathering in your home, and I listen to it a lot while I work during December too.