The yellow post-it notes were never the best idea. I can’t remember if they were intended to be permanent at the time, or just a quick way of demarcating the division between “Chorale”, “Instrumental & Solo” and “Organ and Chimes” as well as the sixteen other arbitrary categories I created for my recently sorted collection.
I had covered the floor of the den with LPs – each pile representing a vain attempt at organization. The room, and the rest of the house, smelled of thrift-shop dust, old cardboard and vinyl. This was when I first learned that I had accumulated over three hundred Christmas albums.
It’s unlike me not to finish a job properly, but trying to bring order to the chaos of the collection must have left me just enough energy to quickly print, in red pen, the sometimes inscrutable descriptions (”Cool Comp”, “Program” and “?”) that remain today – poking out at random intervals along the eight foot shelf they fill.
My search for Christmas LPs was necessitated by the ongoing dearth of well-made and sincere Christmas recordings. It began when I found myself unable to finish a once-a-year Christmas mix-tape using only the paltry collection that had assembled in my home as every normal Christmas collection does. Soon I was prowling thrift shops from coast to coast, weighing down my returning suitcase with treasures like the Hank Snow Christmas Album or the original 1957 “Elvis’ Christmas Album” – tucked in with less appealing titles that eventually fell into categories like the aforementioned “Organ & Chimes”.
It was a serendipitous visit to the local Peace Arch Hospital Auxiliary Superfluity Shop, though, that kicked the collection into gear. There, one fall afternoon, searching for a Halloween costume for Connor, I encountered a shopping cart filled with fifty carefully chosen and immaculately cared for Christmas LPs in mint condition. My collection built from there.
There are many factors that recommend a successful holiday recording. All are entirely subjective – the probable appeal of my search for the very best of the breed. One person’s favourites would not necessarily be another's. That’s part of the joy of my collection.
LPs don’t get much use in my home these days, but I do have a carefully filtered and personally reviewed Christmas MP3 collection that currently numbers 715 and growing. I don’t make Christmas mix-tapes any more either, but my “Christmas” playlist will share my holiday favourites, without repeating, for one day, fifteen hours and five minutes.
We’ve listened to a few hundred of those songs already. The tree is up and decorated and the house is nearly ready for Christmas.