It’s rapidly heading towards that time of year. The time when stores begin stocking more toys, games, and “must have” items. The time when tinsel festoons every street corner and evergreen trees sport glossy ornaments.
It’s truly the most wonderful time of the year, it’s a time that brings out the kid in all of us, and can take us back to a simpler time in our lives. Christmas time has, and always will be a time for the children. Christmas specials dot the television landscape, and Christmas songs flood the radio airwaves. Which begs the question, with so many Christmas songs in the ether, which are the best Christmas songs ever, geared towards kids? How about a top ten?
1) Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer: This classic Christmas song was originally born as a short story by Robert L. May when he worked for Macy’s department store. The story was soon turned into a song, and the first recording was made in 1949 by Gene Autry.
The popularity of the song is rooted in its message that it’s not only okay to be different, but that being different may in fact be better. We hear how Rudolph was teased as a young deer because of his blaring red nose, but in the end, was celebrated as a hero. The story and the tune resonate decades after it was produced.
2) Frosty the Snowman: Frosty is another oldie but a goody. The song was originally recorded in 1950 by Gene Autry and was written by Walter “Jack” Rollins and Steve Nelson. Frosty tells the tale of a snowman that comes to life thanks to a magical hat, and enjoys many adventures with the children who built him. Unlike Rudolph, there is no social message in the song, but the magical elements have brung joy to children for almost 60 years.
3) Jingle Bells: By far the oldest song on this list. Jingle Bells was written in 1857 by James Lord Pierpont under the title “One Horse Open Sleigh.” This song is not just a kid’s song, nor is it merely a Christmas song as it’s more geared towards a winter, feel good tune. However, at this point, you’ll be hard pressed not to hear this song sung in every kid’s winter play or production.
4) Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer: The youngest song on this list is also the only one geared for comedy. The song was written in 1979 by Randy Brooks, and tells the tale of a grandmother who gets drunk on too much eggnog. As she is walking home after the party, she is run over, and apparently killed by Santa’s sleigh. While the story sounds a bit dark and twisted, there have been numerous television specials that have managed to lighten the song into something that elicits a laugh, instead of a wince.
5) Little Drummer Boy: This one is also not a “kids only” Christmas song, but it is one best sung by children. The story is about a little drummer boy who has very little to give to the newborn Jesus Christ. Katherine K. Davis wrote the song in 1957 and it has been recorded over, and over, and over again by choral groups, to pop rock singers.
6) Here Comes Santa Claus: The first song on the list to specifically mention Santa Claus, is also the third song that was either written, or first performed by Gene Autry. Autry wrote this song after appearing in a parade in 1946. Autry said he came up with the song after hearing many of the people watching the parade say “Here comes Santa Claus” as the parade passed by.
7) I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus: This song was actually first recorded by a kid. Jimmy Boyd, who was 13 at the time, first sang the song in 1952. The song, which is apparently about a child who sees his mother kissing his father (dressed up as Santa) on Christmas Eve, is both cute and funny. The Roman Catholic Church in Boston didn’t originally think so. They condemned the song for combining sex and Christmas. Boyd had to meet with the archdiocese to explain the song in order for the Church to remove the ban.
8) Santa Claus Is Coming to Town: This cautionary tale opens with the line, “You better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout I’m telling you why…” While the theme of Santa only giving good boys and girls nice presents had been around much longer than this song, it was the first time it was put so plainly and in song.
9) Silent Night: This song, while not strictly a kid’s Christmas tune, is one of the oldest Christmas songs known. In fact, its original German version was written in 1818, but wasn’t translated to English until 1859. (This is why I can get away with calling Jingle Bells the oldest song on this list.) This is another song that may not be geared for the young, but appears in almost any Holiday theme play or production. It’s also most moving Christmas song for me, and therefore would go in any Top 10 list I made on this subject.
10) Up on the House Top: This song is actually surprisingly old, written in 1860 by Benjamin Hanby. The song tells the tale of Santa Claus’s arrival at one particular house. The song has been recorded by multiple artists, most notably, Gene Autry. The man gets around.