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A Musical Tradition: A New Hawaiian Holiday Album for the Collection

Monday, December 20, 2010

Every year, I treat myself to a “new” Hawaiian holiday album.

(Not necessarily a recently released album, but a NEW album for my music library!)

And the tradition in our home has always been popping the album on the CD player as soon as Thanksgiving dinner is finished. (When I was growing up, we always said the Christmas season “officially” begins once Thanksgiving was finished and the dishes were put away. But since I’ve lived on my own, I never wait for the dishes to be clean–I like to listen while I wash!)

This year, the holiday season got off to a late start–at least, for me.

I don’t know where the time went! It seemed like it was mid-July and then the next day, it was December 1st! Auē! I only recently ordered my CD of the season from But thankfully, it arrived the other day. Just in time!

But we still haven’t even OPENED the new CD yet. Why?


For Christmas, we’ll be heading to Pennsylvania to see the family. That spells R-O-A-D T-R-I-P.

And let’s face it: road trips can feel like they last forever–especially when you’re faced with long stretches of highway. Especially when you’re faced with pre-holiday traffic. That’s why my partner-in-crime always pack a lot of good music. And it’ll be awesome to have something NEW to listen to!

This year’s Hawaiian holiday album selection is… (Drum roll, please…): Christmas Time with Eddie Kamae & Sons of Hawaii

I’m looking forward to really exploring this album. Eddie Kamae and the Sons of Hawaii are such an important part of the Hawaiian music scene–without them, we would have lost so many wonderful song “treasures” that were disappearing as Hawaiian elders were passing away. Uncle Eddie has worked tirelessly to preserve that music. He perpetuates a classic style of Hawaiian music–one of days gone by. So I’m sure this holiday album will be fantastic.

Last week, I wrote about one of the songs: Christmas Memories.

Written by Uncle Dennis Kamakahi, the song is sung is from the viewpoint of an elder, looking back on the Christmases of his lifetime. I first heard it heard the song when it was released on another album, Kī hōʻalu Christmas. I loved it.

I love the song’s lyrics. They call to mind images of Hālawa in my mind. And acting as a beautiful container for the lyrics are the song’s simple structure and uncluttered instrumentation. Perfection.

So I looked at the other songs on the album and I realized it was a no-brainer: THIS was going to be 2010′s holiday selection!

I can’t wait to unwrap the cellophane and pop the disc into the player as we head out on the open road. Let the holidays begin!

What kinds of “musical traditions” do you have in YOUR home? I’d love to hear from you!

6 Responses to “A Musical Tradition: A New Hawaiian Holiday Album for the Collection”

  1. Puna says:

    Aloha Kalikimaka Jason -
    Enjoy your road trip!

  2. Sarah says:

    What a lovely tradition!

    I always try to hold off on listening to holiday music until Thanksgiving, too. It makes it more special, somehow, to wait for just that last little moment. My first holiday album of the year is always “John Denver and the Muppets: A Christmas Together”. When I hear the opening strains I always KNOW that Christmas has begun. Sometimes I end up listening to it by myself; sometimes family or friends are subjected to my boisterous singing, especially on the “12 Days of Christmas”, which always includes the extra bits that only the Muppets sing.

    But whatever happens, every year, on Thanksgiving I makes sure to watch “Miracle on 34th Street” (the original, black and white – no colorized versions thank-you-very-much). It’s been a tradition in my family forever. It’s my Father’s favorite movie (although another tradition is for him to fall asleep about half way through and wake up somewhere near the end — fortunately, he knows the movie by heart and can jump in easily at any point). Even when I moved out on my own, one of the first presents I was given was a copy of the movie so I would feel at home.

    And for road trips, our family always had to start out with the ever famous (in our family) old TAPE of the Sesame Street “Burt and Ernie Sing-a-long” (Did I ever mention that my family is more than a little Muppet-crazed?). It’s terribly silly but at the same time makes me smile and think of all the good times we had on vacations as a kid. Even when we started on road trips back and forth to college, the tape often made an appearance. When the tape was finally re-released (unedited – thank goodness!) on CD, my mother sent a copy to both me and my sister (and I have a sneaking suspicion that she ordered one for herself, too!).

    Just before reading this post, I was packing my own driving music for own trip back from Iowa after Christmas (solo trip of twenty-one hours to drive a car back here to the east!). I put in a good selection of holiday music, some new Hawaiian music I’ve been saving, and my favorite driving CD of all time – “Driving Home” by Cheryl Wheeler (her descriptive songs about New England are almost Hawaiian in nature and her comedic songs are so clever).

    And, ah, yes, I did pack the sing-a-long, too.

  3. carol says:

    as a child in a small Canadian prairie town, all the neighbours celebrated Christmas Eve at the home of the local doctor. And every year each family (mom, dad and the kids) had to perform. My dad played the saxaphone, and I played the piano (badly and not for long) and my mom turned the pages of the music. (Mom’s talent was painting and art, not music so her only contribution was handling the sheet music). Dad’s talent was music, and I inherited passion and interest from them but no real talent in either arena. But it doesn’t stop me from painting and and strumming my uke for pleasure and I am starting to overcome the trauma of those Christmas eve “concerts.” At the time it was painful for a shy little girl like me to have to get up in front of people and play but now I realize what a gift I was given to make music with my dad.

  4. NoHo says:

    Have a nice trip, Crooner! Hope to chat with you before next year. Peace and Joy, NoHo

  5. Stefanie says:

    Growing up there were quite a few albums (and we had them on actual record albums) that we’d listen to…John Denver and the Muppets, my mom’s high school choir (Napa HS) Christmas Greetings, Mannheim Steamroller and (much to my mom’s dismay) Christmas with the Chipmunks.

    My mom taped the Muppets album for us onto a cassette (easier for little hands to handle). Of course, it didn’t fit on one side so right as they start to sing “It’s in Every One of Us” the tape would flip to the other side and we’d hear the Alfie story all over again. Listening to it now on CD or as an mp3, I half expect it to start over everytime.

    Last Christmas I steathily borrowed my mom’s high school choir album and recorded it digitally and gave it to her and my sister on CD.

    I remember one particular holiday road trip to Napa from San Diego when we played the Chipmunks cassette several times over. Poor Mom.

    I also love Mannheim Steamroller’s Christmas albums and Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Mannheim Steamroller was in the rotation when I was a kid, but I don’t think I knew who they were. Trans-Siberian Orchestra I discovered several years ago.

    I’ve had these (minus the Chipmunks, I just realized I don’t have that album anymore) on random shuffle in my mp3 player since just after Thanksgiving.

  6. Jason Poole says:

    A giant MAHALO to you all for taking the time to comment and share your holiday musical traditions! I loved reading about them–and I took some of your suggestions for music when we “hit the road” on our trip. Mahalo for that!

    Hope you all had a great holiday season. Music definitely made mine better. I hope it did the same for you!

    Happy New Year!
    Aloha nō