Last year, my parents surprised me with four Christmas albums from my youth. My love for music began very young, and its inclusion in the holiday season was one of my favorite things about that time of year. It still is, actually. I can listen to the same songs over and over and they never get old.

Even though I was absolutely delighted with this gift, I didn’t have a turntable on which to play them, and I didn’t run out and buy one because it was the end of the season. So, they were carefully packed up and stored until this season.

(Over the years, every single LP in our combined vinyl collection has disappeared. We have no idea what became of them, although I’m suspecting loss in a move, and we are really sad about it. You should be really sad about it, too. Let’s be sad together.)

When I went to the Hotel St. Cecilia, and we played some of their collection, I was mesmerized by the richness of sound and how the subtle white noise in the background only added to the overall effect. Then and there I knew I would be immediately purchasing a turntable of my own when I got back home.

I did, and last night, we got it all set up, putting on my most prized album, “Bing Crosby’s Merry Christmas.”

I think we’ve established that I’m an emotional person. But even I didn’t expect the depth of my emotion when he started to sing “Jingle Bells” with the Andrews Sisters. I cried. And then I cried some more. I listened to the very same piece of vinyl that my young mommy and daddy had put on their own hi-fi. The very same one that was bumped numerous times by rough-housing kids, causing the needle to drag across the fine grooves and cause permanent scratches effecting the sound of the tunes. I sat there, singing along through the tears, stopping where I knew the song would skip because that was the way I’d learned it.

The first Christmas we were married, I realized, with a sudden sadness, that I didn’t have those albums to listen to anymore. Kevin, however, pointed out that we could get a cassette of some of them, and Bing’s was one that was available in that format. Excited to have it, I tore open the packaging and put on the cassette, listening to his deep molasses-like voice fill the room. But they’d changed the order of the song list from the album, and there were no skips at all. I tried to sing along, but I kept messing up, anticipating a song that no longer followed another, or pausing where there was no pause.

It was too perfect.

I got used to it, of course. That cassette graduated to a CD, that eventually became an mp3 file. I learned a new order of songs, and how each one actually goes without any scratches. But upon hearing that old original version last night, I realized that I’m at a place in my life where real and true are so much more important to me than perfect. And if there are a few scratches and scars? Even better, because they happened in the midst of really living, and give richness and character in the long run.

This will be a precious Christmas, full of fun, joy, and imperfection. You know, just like an old song, on an old disc, by an old crooner…just like life.

And, well…just the way I like it.


We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” Romans 5:3-5 NLT