Overplayed or not, one of the most delightful aspects of the Christmastime holidays is the glorious music that floats everywhere. There is in fact a very large variety of flavors of it, and alleluia for that. There’s Bing crooning White Christmas, vast choirs raising the roofbeams with Hallelujahs, boys’ choirs sounding like angels, medieval madrigalesque tunes with exotic-timbred winds, strings, and drums, country-western songbirds warbling plaintive homespun yearnings, jazzy choirs or bands syncopating and jiving through the old tunes, and I love the lot, although I think it should be a felony to begin commercial Christmas-themed advertising displays of any sort (visual or audio) until after Thanksgiving.
Most of the above descriptions refer to what’s available on CD, radio, or TV. What may well be missing from too many people’s experiences is the same that may be missing in general: 1) Hearing the music live, either in a formal concert or informally in from carolers (does anyone do this door to door any more?) and 2) Doing It Yourself. The iPod and all its cousins have brought us instant and ubiquitous access to every shred of audio or visual material (albeit in Lilliputian format), but this same ease of access also brings us distance from the process of making music ourselves, which is apparently and sadly an endangered charm unique to the the human species.