Christmas 2020 will be a Christmas unlike any other. COVID-19 has ravaged the world all year, from Wuhan in January to Italy in February to global lockdowns from March to November and beyond. Tier systems, arbitrarily defined by under prepared governments, have come to define the confusion and mistrust that encapsulates 2020. Confusion and mistrust made all the more worrying from years of dangerous politicians telling dangerous lies to manipulate the most vulnerable in society.
The world is a very different place. Millions are working from home, as an entire generation realises that yes, that meeting could have been just an email. Countless university students are attending online lectures, mourning the loss of everything that makes student life so invaluable. Restaurants, pubs, bars, and hotels have closed – many will never reopen. International holidays and concerts are but a memory. Crowd noise is dubbed in over sport broadcasts as TV execs desperately try to create some kind of atmosphere in pointless, empty stadiums.
But now, as December has arrived, governments are offering a Christmas reprieve. Countries all across the world are easing restrictions to allow for some seasonal celebrations; many are even going further than citizens may have wished. Ireland has moved from Level 5 to Level 3, meaning restaurants can reopen, people can return to gyms, and the floodgates have been opened for endless Christmas shopping. From Friday December 18th until January 6th, people are free to travel between counties and up to three households are permitted to mix for social and family gatherings.
The government is insistent that strict social distancing should still be observed, advising people to plan ahead for where they will spend Christmas and limit their contacts over the holidays. This could include organising and creating family bubbles – easier said than done, however, when schools and shopping are factor into the equation. All visitors should use hand sanitiser and wear a mask upon arrival in someone’s home. People should avoid hugs, kisses, handshakes and sharing cutlery and food.
Yes, Christmas 2020 will be unlike any other. There won’t be any sitting on Santa’s lap at the shopping centre. There won’t be any getting bladdered and embarrassing ourselves in front of the boss at Christmas parties. There won’t be any 12 Pubs of Christmas and there certainly won’t be any sneaking kisses under the mistletoe. But we can still have a very merry COVID-19 Christmas; rather than crying about what we’re missing, let’s be thankful for all we have.
To truly enjoy this holiday season, we will need to alter our expectations, our traditions, and most importantly – our playlists! Because what would Christmas be without inflicting the trauma of regurgitative holiday tunes on all our essential retail workers? But for those of us not having the same thirty songs pumped ad nauseum upon our ears – and our souls, Christmas music can represent some of the happiest and most cherished memories of our lives.
The beauty of Christmas music is that each song can set the tone for the holiday period. It’s not just about nostalgia, it’s about the mood of each little mini event. The right songs for decorating the tree. The right songs for opening presents. The right songs for cooking dinner, napping on the couch, and enjoying an adult beverage by the fire with the kids tucked up in bed.
But before we reveal the ultimate playlist for a COVID-19 Christmas, we have to talk about what songs we need to omit – what songs we need to retire. Because some Christmas songs – even the classics – are just not suitable for celebrating the holidays this year.
We really need to avoid the more down-beat, sombre songs, which I’m sure many of you will love, but just aren’t going to help lift anyone out of the darkness. So we must say goodbye to The Little Drummer Boy; goodbye Silent Night; goodbye Come All Ye Faithful; goodbye O Holy Night. Not this year! And while we’re at it, let’s get rid of Walking Through The Air and that creepy snowman, this is Christmas, not Halloween.
Next, we need to clear out some of the clutter from the 1980s; songs like Do They Know It’s Christmas? and Stop The Cavalry. Yes these songs were well-meaning and the message they try to convey is as relevant today as it was four decades ago, but they’ve aged like bread, not wine. So off to the bin with them.
Finally: anything by Michael Bublé is banned. There is not a single song attempted by that Christmas parasite that doesn’t have half a dozen better versions. Now that Mr Grinch has exorcised one or two demons, let’s move on to the more cheerful stuff!
The Ultimate Playlist for a COVID Christmas
We need some classics for decorating the tree, opening presents, cooking, eating, and drinking. This is the time to forget all that we’ve lost and all that we miss; the time to lose ourselves in the Christmas spirit. Let our hair down. Be a child again. Leave some cookies out for Santa and a carrot for Rudolph.
Let It Snow – Dean Martin
It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas – Perry Como
White Christmas – The Drifters
Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas – Frank Sinatra
Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer – Dean Martin
Fairytale of New York – The Pogues
Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree – Brenda Lee
Sleigh Ride – The Ronettes
Santa Claus is Comin’ To Town – Frank Sinatra
Winter Wonderland – Dean Martin
I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas – Gayla Peevey
Believe it or not, not everyone likes Christmas! I know, shocking, right? But there is something for everyone in this playlist. There are a select few songs to get even the grinchiest curmudgeon into the festive spirit. As a species, we’ve endured the hardest year most of us have ever lived through. But the world is getting a vaccine for Christmas; that’s quite a gift. So we need to celebrate.
Happy Christmas (War is Over) – John & Yoko
Merry Xmas Everybody – Slade
Jingle Bell Rock – Bobby Helms
It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year – Andy Williams
Wonderful Christmas Time – Paul McCartney & Wings
I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday – Wizzard
Feliz Navidad – José Feliciano
Christmas Time – The Darkness
Mistress For Christmas – AC/DC
Christmas In Hollis – Run DMC
A lot of people won’t be able to travel home this year, despite the easing of COVID-19 restrictions. A lot of people won’t get to spend time with their families. A lot of people will be lonely. So there’s nothing wrong with a little festive nostalgia. If you’re lucky enough to be able to spend time with your family, then know how lucky you are and treasure every moment. If not, then close your eyes, listen to these songs, and know it will eventually get better. Imagine how great next Christmas will be.
Driving Home For Christmas – Chris Rea
Lonely This Christmas – Mud
All I Want For Christmas Is You – Mariah Carey
Last Christmas – Wham
Thank God It’s Christmas – Queen
After a long Christmas day, when the kids are gone to bed, and the lights on the tree are glistening through the darkness; as you and your special person curl into the couch, drink in hand, with the fire crackling nearby, you’ll need some mood music to perfect the holiday ambience.
The Christmas Song – Nat King Cole
Santa Baby – Eartha Kitt
I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus – The Ronettes
Baby It’s Cold Outside – Tom Jones & Cerys Matthews
Back Door Santa – Clarence Carter