I know it’s de rigueur for the blognoscenti to avow their hatred of Christmas music, but I love it. Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker, carols like “O Holy Night”, “Angels We Have Heard on High”, “What Child Is This”, “Away In a Manger”, and even “The Little Drummer Boy” are some of my favorite pieces of music, holiday or otherwise. Being in the Appalachian region, it’s easy to find lots of instrumental versions of Christmas music featuring traditional folk instruments, and I especially love the version of “Snowbird on the Ashbank” on this compilation. (Here’s three other favorites that I’ve collected and listen to every year.)

Sound and scent are so especially conducive to a contemplative state of mind. Music like this, specially reserved for one particular time of year, thus heightening its emotional intensity, combined with the smells of cedar and pine, mistletoe and sugarplums, sage and holly, and, of course, freshly baked foods — well. Who needs heaven?