From my earliest vinyl Christmas memories through my early MTV teens, my parents did not update their collection of Christmas albums: most of them were compilations featuring old lounge singers like Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme or Boston Pops.
They were randomly acquired in the 1960s, when there was a decent chance that a gas station might give one away with the purchase of a full tank.
None of this had much impact on my own taste in Christmas music. My parents didn't own any Frank Sinatra or Ella Fitzgerald Christmas albums, which I consider the gold standard, and I built my collection of holiday music based on three distinct tracks: the Sinatra tradition, the go-to classics of my childhood and new music by singers well outside the “American Idol” aesthetic.
Only Run-DMC's “Christmas in Hollis,” the Waitresses' “Christmas Wrapping,” and the original version of Band Aid's “Do They Know It's Christmas” will do from the early '80s category — hearing the botched remakes of “Do They Know It's Christmas” makes me want to climb up the chimney and stay there.
Since last year, I've essentially moved my Christmas collection into a snow-filled cloud. I created a still-evolving 13-hour playlist on Spotify, which means I can stream it through my phone, my iPad, Apple TV and my work computer.
Christmas is everywhere, and it's my Christmas — there is no Elmo and Patsy, no Michael Bolton, no Wham. Harry Connick Jr.'s three albums are all represented, except for that George Jones duet on “Harry for the Holidays.” It's not bad, but it twangs excessively for my household. The tinselly New Wave stuff is there, but the Mannheim Steamroller is garaged.