The 12 Songs of Arizona Christmas | Phoenix New Times

The 12 Songs of Arizona Christmas

A recap of our musical Advent calendar.
. . . and a partridge in a pear tree.
. . . and a partridge in a pear tree. Larina Marina/Shutterstock
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Many of us filter celebrations through the medium of song. In that spirit, we asked local stakeholders to detail their most cherished holiday tunes. Consider this a musical Advent calendar, where your “treat” is a better understanding of the interesting people and organizations from across the city and state.

A Partridge in a Pear Tree

Chris Hove, Co-Owner, Perfect Pear Bistro

“I played piano for maybe six to nine months, and there are just songs that you learn, like ‘Jingle Bells’ or ‘Sleigh Ride,’ that you’ll just always know. It’s a mentality, and we all just seem to know it. I think if I were put in front of a piano now, I could play both of those still. It’s something about the sound. Your brain just knows them and the keys of them.”

Two Turtle Doves

Kat Rumbley, Marketing and Group Sales Manager, Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

The Muppet Christmas Carol is my favorite holiday movie. I love the part where the rats are cleaning up after Scrooge leaves and they’re singing ‘One More Sleep ’Til Christmas.’ They’re leaving work and just walking down the street, and there’s snow everywhere. There’s just this true sense of happiness. It reminds me of when I leave work for the holidays, because I live so far from my family. The whole movie is taking someone who is a grumpy-pants and making them love Christmas. And there are just so many animals, so I’m connecting it to my job!”

Three French Hens

Glenn Belfield, General Manager, Zinc Bistro

“It sounds a little bit corny, but we wanted to pick ‘I’ll Be Home For Christmas’ as our holiday song. It’s definitely home for a lot of us, and I certainly see Zinc as my second home. But not just the people who have worked here for 10 years, and there’s quite a few, but also the people who come here. We’re open on Christmas Day, and it’s even one of the busiest days of the year. It’s a tradition for so many people. They have a mimosa and open the presents with the kids, and then they head to Zinc. Sure, it’s a tough sell for some people to come to work, but then we’re all here together, sharing the same goal. Close bonds turn into family, and then 18 years later, that’s how you have Zinc.”

Four Calling Birds

Melissa Alexander and Amanda Harper, Directors, Canary Studio

MA: “We both had really nontraditional childhoods, apparently. It’s hard for me to pick one song, but it’s basically the whole Jackson 5 Christmas Album. I got that tape at one of those Christmas cookie exchanges, and I must have driven my parents mad playing it over and over. Michael Jackson singing ‘I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus’ has a totally different connotation now, but I love it when I hear it. It’s the Christmas album in my mind.”

“I love anything Bing Crosby, like ‘White Christmas,’ but especially ‘Mele Kalikimaka.’ It’s in that one scene in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, you know, that totally nontraditional scene. But we watch that movie every year after eating our big holiday meal. I usually fall asleep during it, but that’s my tradition.”

Five Gold Rings

Jenny Melissa Rodriguez, Owner, Pure Life Jewelry

“The one song I can think of is ‘Carol of the Bells.’ The song just reminds me of family and the holidays so much. I grew up in choir and did it in elementary and junior high. I was a soprano, so I was stoked on life to be able to perform it. It’s such a complex song, and there are so many moving parts to it that you just don’t hear right away.”

Six Geese A-Laying

Karen Mason, Owner, Duck and Decanter

“My favorite Christmas song? ‘O Holy Night.’ It offers the deepest meaning of Christmas and a profound message of hope. I first embraced the words of the song when, as a family, we [worked] really long hours [during] Christmas making gift baskets. We used to do nearly 1,000 handcrafted gift baskets every year — much less now because of online ordering and mass merchandise box stores.”

Seven Swans A-Swimming

Frank Bagnato, Sun City West “Swan Guy”

“If you asked me my favorite holiday song, it’s terribly politically incorrect, but it’s ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside.’ It’s just a touching song, and one that’s totally innocent. Anyone that thinks otherwise is totally just reading into it. It’s sort of like the whole swan thing, where [community management] are making this something bigger than it needs to be. There’s three swans left, just stop making excuses and help them.”

Eight Maids A-Milking

Kevin Danzeisen, Owner, Danzeisen Dairy

“The one that pops up right away is ‘Joy to the World.’ We’ve always been churchgoers and go to church every Christmas ever since I was little. [The song] just makes me realize how good we have it. We have so much to be thankful for. We live in an awesome state in an awesome city ... We live in truly extraordinary times. Sometimes it’s nice to remember that. I know there’s a lot going on in the world, and it’s easy to watch the news and think it’s all going down the tube. But there’s a lot of hope, too.”

Nine Ladies Dancing

Steve Rosenstein, Co-Owner, The Duce

“We have an amazing DJ, Tiger, who spins some wonderful holiday duets [such as Gwen Stefani’s ‘You Make It Feel Like Christmas’ with her partner Blake Shelton], but I don’t turn the two trees into Christmas trees. We may have a bunch of people from Israel here, and so we’ll play Israeli rap or rock music. You can walk in here and maybe see eight ethnic groups, and no one’s being douchey. We just always say that we keep it ‘Duce-y.’ But I’ll see, like, a neighborhood grandma dancing next to hipsters, and I just get a hoot out of it.”

10 Lords A-Leaping

Jennifer Cafarella, Artistic Director, Convergence Ballet Company

“I think my favorite [song] has to be ‘Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.’ It’s just so tender and peaceful, very loving and smooth. Growing up, we had the tree and the celebration because Santa wasn’t very religious. It’s just a very magical time. I still take my kids to see Santa, and I said they only have to do this till they’re 18. Then I said, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice if you still did it?’”

11 Pipers Piping

Paul Critchfield, Virginia Piper’s Nephew and Trustee, Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust

“In 1946, at a midnight Christmas Eve mass, Virginia had her first communion in the Catholic faith. This moment was deeply spiritual for her, and midnight masses often close with the song ‘Silent Night.’ Virginia loved the tranquility of the song. The three of us — Virginia, my mother, and me — sang this favorite often, in glorious harmony, throughout the Christmas season. We had a family tradition of caroling on Christmas Eve. We wore Victorian-style outfits and went to great lengths preparing song sheets that we carried in beautiful folders as we went caroling throughout the neighborhood.”

12 Drummers Drumming

Dana Armstrong, Co-Owner, Dirty Drummer

“My favorite is Nat King Cole’s version of ‘The Christmas Song.’ It’s such a classic, but it’s also poignant. It was my dad’s favorite, and he had the records, which were his parents, and some of those are from the late 1940s. It just reminds me of that time. He also had these plastic icicles, and every year he’d explain how they had to ration Christmas decorations in the ’30s, and he still had those from the Depression. He passed away, so it’s kind of bittersweet for me, and there are all these memories attached. But it’s great, and that’s what the holidays are for, to have all these feelings. But you also hope you have new people in your life to create new memories. Nothing compares [to the song], and Christmas just doesn’t start until I hear it.”

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