When I first read that today’s album was “Noel” by Josh Groban, I can’t say this was the beachside summertime album I was eager to crank up. However, as the number one selling album of 2007, it is another mandatory stop along the way, and I will concede I enjoyed the experience much more than I originally expected to, for a variety of reasons.
In fairness, Josh Groban is certainly a phenomenal singer, and his almost-operatic voice plays well on the songs he selected for this record. For the purpose of this blog, I tend to divide Christmas songs into three categories. The first are the truly old school classics, the ones that were probably big Christmas songs 50 to 60 years ago, or even before that, like “Silent Night”. The second are more pop-oriented, but have been also around for generations like “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree”. The third category are modern Christmas songs that have come to light in recent years (for me, this means they didn’t exist when I still was waiting up for Santa Claus) like “All I Want for Christmas Is You”. For the most part, Groban appropriately sticks with Category 1, and his take on songs like “Silent Night”, a war-themed “I’ll Be Home for Christmas”, “Ave Maria”, “Angels We Have Heard on High” (with Brian McKnight), and “The Christmas Song” are really well done.
I loved Christmas when I was a child and when my son was a young boy, it was that magical exuberance and mystical excitement that was an annual highlight of my life. I’m not a man of Christian faith by practice, but the holiday, including its original meaning, has always represented some of the best parts of our society, when it is focused on giving and caring and spending time with those you love. Some people I know, and Christie is one of them, annually lifts her spirits and changes her mood when the Christmas music hits the airwaves. I still believe in the magic of cold weather and a “White Christmas”, another classic featured on this album, and I hope the remainder of my Christmas holidays will be enjoyed in the snowy cold of my native Colorado.
As my son aged into high school, and became a bit more pragmatic and practical about the holiday season as most adults do, I found another annual reason to celebrate this season, and my memory of this is directly prompted and triggered by this album. Recorded first for the movie “The Polar Express” by Groban, the song “Believe” has become an all-time favorite for me, as it was sung each winter for several years by the vocal group my son performed in during high school, The Power Chords, sponsored by the Orlando Repertory Theater. Different members of the group would take the lead on different tracks, but his voice, usually paired as a duet with one of many beautiful female voices in the group, really lined up with this song wonderfully, and when I first heard the Groban version of this song today, I was definitely moved to tears. I don’t have that many artifacts from his childhood, but I do have audio recordings from all of those shows, and digging back into those recordings this morning was truly Christmas in June.
For me, the bottom line of all holiday moments are the memories we create and share with those we love. Some of them are better than others, but at their best, they are foundational to life and happiness. I’m beyond grateful for my Christmas memories thanks to my parents, growing up in Colorado, and I love all of the Christmas and holiday memories I have shared with my son, especially when it came with a song from him. As for the future, I’m hoping there is even more Christmas and holiday magic in my life to anticipate, just as I wish the same for everyone else around the world.
“Believe in what you feel inside, And give your dreams the wings to fly, You have everything you need…”
“If you just believe.”