There I would sit, beneath the Christmas tree, looking up through the branches and squinting my eyes so that the multicolored lights became little glowing galaxies. I would lose myself in Christmas dreams, wandering into an enchanted world of dark and light and magic.
Inevitably, these wanderings would take place to the soundtrack of a few special Christmas albums that we owned when I was a child. One was Christmas Favorites by The Hollyridge Strings and the other was White Christmas by The Mike Sammes Singers. Oh, we had a few others–101 Strings, The Caroleer Singers, Mahalia Jackson–but those two set the tone for me.
They epitomize the phrase “all is merry and bright”. There is something in the richness of the recordings and the shimmering of the strings and voices in washes of reverb deeper than a Christmas blizzard that just lit up my holidays. And they still do today.
As I entered my 30’s and sought to recapture some of the glory of this music for myself, I found myself at a loss. As the digital age was in full swing I no longer had a turntable. And the powers that be still had not seen fit to release these gems on CD. So I sent my old and crackly LP’s to an audio engineer friend who recorded them to CD (this was in the days before you and I could record our own CD’s at home). When I got them I was elated and played them endlessly (just ask my wife).
As the technology became more common I started recording other Christmas albums and spent long hours removing hiss and crackle from worn vinyl. I’d scan the covers and pour over them to remove blemishes and bring them back to life.
But then I was like young Kris Kringle in the classic Santa Claus Is Coming To Town, making toys that would pile up in the snow outside the workshop, unplayed with….
So I began this little website and started to bring this music out of the dusty flea markets and estate sales where they languished unheard but not, as I would find, unmissed.
You see, what I’ve learned in the years that I have been doing this is that others spent their Christmases like me, dreaming and yearning and celebrating with a special soundtrack that made it all more special. But each person, each household had their own special soundtrack, those 2 or 3 albums that would play over and over again (why buy lots of Christmas records when you only listen to them for a few weeks a year…?).
I have heard from these people. This music has helped them to recapture those moments of wonder from their youth. They have heard this music and cried and laughed and shared it with their families (old and new). And now there are little ones waiting for Santa somewhere who dream to the strains of Mike Sammes or Eddie Dunstedter or The Hollyridge Strings.
And that makes me as happy as the little boy I was laying under that tree, the magic multiplied beyond imagining!