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It’s finally December, which can only mean one thing: CHRISTMAS MUSIC ‘round the clock. Now, let me make something clear: I am not an out-of-season Christmas-music-listener. I may sneak in the odd listen or two in the last week of November, or start the day after Thanksgiving.

But once the clock strikes midnight on December 1st, I blare Christmas music virtually nonstop for 25 days.

This tradition, while shared by many, originated for me with my parents and the five disc CD changer that we had growing up. Both of my parents, respectively (sorry to this marriage) like to play music pretty much constantly, so depending on the time of year or what new movie had been released, there was a steady variety of tunes coming from that CD player. There was no greater time for this than at Christmas when, in the midst of decorating the tree and meticulously rearranging the manger scene, we would get to pop in five Christmas CDs. They varied, sure, but off the top of my head, I could put together a power ranking of sorts.

Here are my top 5 Christmas Albums:

  1. Disney’s Christmas Collection
  2. Now That’s What I Call Christmas!
  3. Amy Grant: Home for Christmas
  4. Snowfall: The Tony Bennett Christmas Album
  5. Michael Bublé Christmas (a later add)

My mom would ask us to put the CDs in and just hit shuffle, and boom: instant Christmas cheer. For all of December, when we’d be getting ready for school in the morning, or having dinner in the evenings, we’d have the delightful, eclectic mix to set the sound of the season. Going to college meant I would be losing this holiday soundtrack, so I set out to recreate the feeling via Spotify.

Enter: “consolidated christmas,” my playlist to beat all Christmas playlists.

Spotify was a bit overwhelming to navigate when I first started using it. “Every song and album, ever” is a lot to wade through. But I wanted to make an epic Christmas playlist of my own, that honored the songs I heard all the time growing up, but also felt fresh with new additions and updates. So I embarked on curating the best of the best.

It took a few tries. I also created a playlist that’s just covers of “Last Christmas,” my all-time favorite Christmas song. (Side note – I cannot in good conscience recommend the movie Last Christmas. It was a trainwreck.) I ended up making a mega-playlist filled with album upon album of Christmas music until I began to whittle it down into a playlist I titled “consolidated christmas,” since these were purposeful selections.

This was 2011, and the playlist was an instant banger. I added a bunch of Michael Bublé, and the Barenaked Ladies album, “My Only Wish” by Britney Spears, She & Him, and the entirety of The OC Chrismukkah album, because, duh. However, as the years went by (literally), I just started to add album after album, and stopped curating an order, so when it came time to press play, I did what I had always done – pressed shuffle. So the playlist grew, and it can no longer really be classified as “consolidated.”

I’m not going to lie—“consolidated christmas” is one of my finest creations.

It’s got traditional Chrismas fare, a la Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby. It’s got newer hits from Kelly Clarkson and John Legend. It’s got Carly Rae Jepsen’s cover of “Last Christmas.” Hell, it’s even got a bunch of Glee Christmas, because let’s all be honest: the Glee Christmas albums slap.

The playlist has, not to brag, 10 followers.

(Editor’s Note: Ahem, make that 11.)

People have texted me about how good it is. The current runtime is 18 hours and 3 minutes. There are many repeats, and my own biases are definitely represented. Like I mentioned earlier, I love “Last Christmas.” “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” is on there conservatively 20 times, and “Christmas Wrapping” – my mom’s favorite Christmas song, “Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy” – my dad’s, and “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” my sister’s favorite, are also in there a handful of times.

Don’t get me wrong—sometimes, we, as a society, go overboard with Christmas cheer. But the evolution and time I have taken to both replicate my childhood and demonstrate my own evolution as a person (hello, “California Christmas” from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend) has turned “consolidated christmas” into a tradition of its own. I’ll be listening and updating for many years to come. Christmas music brings people together, and is integral to the spirit of the holiday.

If you would like access to what I like to think of as the World’s Best Christmas Playlist, AKA “consolidated christmas,” you can find it here:

Some new additions this year include Lea Michele’s Christmas album, new duets from John Legend, the Jonas Brothers, Kacey Musgraves, and selections from Bing Crosby redone with a symphony orchestra. Happy listening!

Erin Vail

Erin is the 2003 West Reading Elementary Geography Bee champion, a TV obsessive, and never not thinking about Buffalo sports.

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