Christmas | Texas Public Radio

Christmas

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TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. Merry Christmas.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WHITE CHRISTMAS")

ROSEMARY CLOONEY: (Singing) I'm dreaming of a white Christmas, just like the ones I used to know.

In the mood for a classic holiday tale of comfort and joy? Well, writer David Sedaris' "Santaland Diaries" is not exactly that — but it is an NPR holiday tradition.

Sedaris once worked as a department store elf, and like a stale candy cane, the job left an odd taste in his mouth. But lucky for us, Sedaris turned his experience as Crumpet the Elf into "Santaland Diaries," which he first read from on Morning Edition in 1992.

Susan Gustafson had suffered dementia for several years when her family decided she needed around-the-clock care and moved her into a memory care unit at an assisted living facility in Costa Mesa, Calif.

Her daughter, Nancy Gustafson, a retired opera singer and artist-in-residence at Northwestern University in Illinois, says when she visited her mom for the first time, she was devastated.

"She was sitting in her wheelchair with her head down at a breakfast table," Nancy Gustafson remembers. "I'll never forget — looking so sad and looking so lost and so confused."

Celebrating Christmas With A Cappella Music

Dec 23, 2019

We listen to some a cappella Christmas music with our favorite Christmas elf, Ron Cohen — host Robin Young’s former high school choir director at John F. Kennedy High School on Long Island.

Music From The Segment

Watch on YouTube.

Watch on YouTube.

Watch on YouTube.

Every Christmas Eve at exactly 3 p.m., the Chapel of King's College in Cambridge, England plays A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols. The tradition began in 1918, and for decades it's been broadcast on the BBC and around the world. A commemorative recording of last year's Centenary Service has just been released; it was the last one conducted by Sir Stephen Cleobury, the choir's music director for 37 years, who died just last month on Nov. 22.

Kacey Musgraves, the Grammy award-winning country music star, released a Christmas special last month on Amazon Prime's video streaming service. It features Musgraves and with her band, along with special guests including Lana Del Rey, Leon Bridges, Zooey Deschanel, James Corden, the Radio City Rockettes and so many more.

The storied band Los Lobos is out with a new album, “Llegó Navidad.” They join us to celebrate.

Guests

David Hidalgo, songwriter and musician. Member of Los Lobos (@LosLobosBand) since the band formed in 1973.

Steve Berlin, musician and producer. Saxophonist and keyboardist for Los Lobos.

This year, Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas Is You" turns 25. Her single-item wish list seems to have been the punctuation mark on half a century in which a new, original and secular holiday song became ubiquitous every few years.

It's no longer uncommon for pop songs to experience a slow rise to the top of the pop charts. Just this year, Lil Nas X's "Old Town Road" followed a long and remix-strewn path to 19 weeks at No. 1, while Lizzo experienced huge hits with songs originally released in 2017 ("Truth Hurts") and 2016 ("Good As Hell").

There may East Coast/West Coast beefs in other forms of music, but jazz is all-embracing. This year's edition of A Jazz Piano Christmas features artists from both coasts, and the audience shows no signs of preferring one over the other.

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