curiosities and nostalgia, rock 'n' roll appreciation 101

When it comes to Christmas, ‘it’s a long way down holiday road’

‘Tis that time of year when the kitchen smells like sugar cookies and the voices of Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra and Andy Williams sing about yuletide cheer. It stays in my mind every year that the official start of the holiday season is when Santa Claus makes his appearance at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. I could almost hear my grandmother’s voice when he’d appear on the television screen. “Oh, there he is! The Christmas season is now here!” Matt Lauer’s voice now repeats a quip similar to that every year, but it is one of my favorite memories and traditions I hold onto every year regarding the holidays. The house would be full of turkey and stuffing smells while It’s a Wonderful Life would air.

Also, cue the holiday music. There is local station that starts playing Christmas music on November 1 and it runs until New Year’s Day. To me, the day after Halloween is a tad bit early to hear “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire” when there are candy wrappers, torn costumes pieces and pumpkins are scattered along the sides of the street, waiting to be tossed into the garbage trucks.

When the holiday season does come, there are those perennial traditions we always look forward to: breaking out the recipe box to make those cookie staples, busting out the most treasured of Christmas albums (Chipmunks, Carpenters, Michael Buble, anyone?), and watching holiday movie after holiday movie until December 31 (or whenever the Hallmark Channel and Lifetime stop airing those movies. Shut up, you watch them too, don’t lie!).

Popular favorites, A Christmas Story and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation are always must-sees, as films we watch while quietly mouthing the lines back at the television. “You’ll shoot yer eye out!”

Let’s talk about Christmas Vacation for second, or the Vacation movies to be specific. Remember how Lyndsay Buckinham’s “Holiday Road” was used in every movie EXCEPT Christmas Vacation? Oddly, enough, because the song has “holiday” in the title, it has recently become a holiday song. Have you noticed? I’ve heard it on that local station playing 2 months of nonstop Christmas music 24/7 and now a sound-alike version is being used to sell Hondas in this year’s seasonal Honda commercials. Even The A.V. Club considers the song to be a holiday-oriented tune.

Due to the franchise’s popularity with the movies, the Buckingham song has been covered by The Dahlmanns, The Aquabats and recently, the Zac Brown Band for the Vacation sequel soundtrack.

For Lyndsay Buckingham, the song only peaked at No. 82 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and it has since become one of Buckingham’s best known songs. To us, it is a pop culture institution that has also become a part of our holiday celebration.

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