When I was a boy we often took our family Christmas holidays in eastern India at a seaside village with the quaint name, Gopalpur-on-Sea. There wasn’t much to the village, which was part of its attraction. Our lodgings were set back from the town on a rocky bluff from which we could hear the crashing waves in the distance. We slept in a rambling bungalow, which along with a small chapel and an abandoned and inarticulate building formed an austere settlement once owned by the Baptist church.
One year, rather unexpectedly, the little chapel held a Christmas Day service for the tiny community of Christians, whose population nearly doubled by the inclusion of our family. The vicar, an elderly Anglo-Indian man, was obviously of the lay variety. His sermon was brief and very much to the point and went something like this.
“I have no doubt all you who are gathered here are thoroughly familiar with the Christmas story. And so there it little point in my adding to your knowledge. Let us stand together for the Christmas blessing.”
It was all over within minutes.
And so, taking a leaf from that same book, let me introduce (and wrap up) this Christmas post with the briefest of messages:
May peace, rest, joy and health be yours throughout this season and the coming New Year.
And to get you started click here for a selection of alternate Christmas songs.
1. Jingle Bell Boogie. Big Jack Johnson (Blue Yule)
2. Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis. Tom Waits (Blue Valentine)
3. First Christmas. Stan Rogers (Between the Breaks)
4. Blue Christmas. Elvis Presley (The 50s Masters)
5. Christmas Date Boogie. Big Joe Turner (Tell Me Pretty Baby)
6. Please Come Home For Christmas. Johnny and Edgar Winter (Blue Yule)
7. On a Christmas Day. C.W. Stoneking (King Hokum)
8. Christmas in Prison. John Prine (Diamonds in the Rough)
9. Christmastime. Larry Norman (Greatest Hits)
10. Christmas Rap. Loudon Wainwright III (BBC Sessions)
11. Christmas Morning. Loudon Wainwright III (Social Studies)
12. On Christmas Eve. John Hartford (Me Of My, How the Time Does Fly)
13. Shut-in at Christmas. Louvin Brothers (Songs That Tell a Story)
14. Silent Night. Ladysmith Black Mambazo (The Very Best)
15. I’ll Be Home for Christmas. The Pilgrim Travellers (Blue Yule)
16. Mary, Merry Christmas unknown (Dr. Ralph Stanely Live)
17. Star of Bethlehem. Neil Young (Decade)
18. Christmas in Southgate. Ry Cooder (My Name is Buddy)
19. Happy New Year. Lightnin’ Hopkins (Blue Yule)