The 12 Weeks of Christmas Book-And...

When I looked and realized there were 12 weeks until Christmas, I cussed.  Sorry, it's what I do sometimes. My inner-priest deemed a penance of either a mouthful of LifeBuoy (could cause blindness) or try my best to redeem these next twelve weeks. I chose the latter.  My first thought, which I humbly share with you, is to encourage you to read a chapter a week from my book Touching Wonder: Recapturing the Awe of Christmas.  You just never know what the Grace that keeps this world might reveal in those written words. My next thought, which I shamelessly share with you, is that each week for the next twelve, there'll be a giveaway here at The Dirty Shame.  In the publishing world, we call this a "book-and" - in other words, I'll give away a signed copy of my book and an accompanying gift.

We'll start slow and easy and probably keep it that way; remember, we're trying not to be pummeled by the season.  Leave a comment here telling me your favorite Christmas song and why.  The gifts will vary, but there will be a common thread: each one will hopefully bring you some joy.  To crank it all up, this first week's giveaway will be a bag of Dirty Shame Coffee - an extra bold dark roast that will leave you like those resurrection witnesses - shuddering and wild.  What better way to wake up and say Christmas is gonna be just a little different this year. Sorry, but there's no decaffeinated option; this is the Dirty Shame, we've got standards.

Each week's drawing will run Monday thru Thursday.  First thing Friday morning, I'll throw all your names on the floor and the one the Beagle eats first wins.  Fair enough?  Be sure and tell all your friends. Heck, tell your enemies even; they might win and invite you over for a cup of Dirty Shame Coffee and lo and behold, a little bit of peace-on-earth-good-will-'tward-men might waft up from a coupla' steaming mugs and you'd both look at each other and say my, my, aren't we lucky...



  1. You have touched on one of my most favorite things: Christmas songs. Too many to choose from. Here's my top few:

    Secular: I'll Be Home For Christmas- I sang this over and over again the time Wayne was in Iraq, praying he would come home that year. I even bought an ornament that year that played the song. The lyrics bring a sense of nostalgia and desire to return to home and the memories of Christmases past.

    Traditional with a popular artist: John Denver's Silent Night. I can picture him singing it among the freshly fallen snow high in the Rocky mountains with everything peaceful, still, and quiet.

    Traditional: Oh Holy Night or Oh Come Oh Come Emmanuel. And I can't even begin to describe how I feel about these songs, just that the music touches me every time I sing them.

  2. Wynnona sings a Christmas song with the veggietales I know, I know! But its called "Its About Love" and it just so is :)

  3. Praise God for caffeine.

    I'll publicize this on my blog tonight or tomorrow and on FB.

    3 way secular tie:

    1.Dolly singing "Winter Wonderland"
    2.Mariah singing "All I Want for Christmas is You"
    3. "I'll be home for Christmas" sung by Bing

    #1 Christmas song fave:
    Bing and David Bowie singing "Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth". Saw that on TV when I was in 3rd grade and never forgot it.

    But really. I lurve all of them except until the 25th except for Mary's Boy Child. That receives too much play on my station. It's got a great message, but MAN. Had on the ears after awhile.

  4. Okay. I'm back. But I only need one try at the drawing. But still. Needed to come. Breathless. HOW COULD I HAVE FORGOTTEN??? "Do They Know It's Christmas?" by BandAid.

    Thanks. I feel better.

  5. Don't know the name but it's the Hippopotamus song.

    Sprinkle some bacon on my name...cmon Jack...go to the bacon...

  6. John, I am so excited I recently ordered your book and should arrive this week! Enter me in the drawing but also if you could send Terry Dewitt in Iraq your book for his 45th birthday I know he would really enjoy it!! Know that there are some of blog stalkers out there who never comment but love your writing and blog. thanks for the thoughts and smiles.

  7. What a fun giveaway. Over from Meredith's blog. Congratulations on your book.
    My husband is a dark-roast kinda guy, the darker the better! He'd love that.
    My all-time favorite song is Oh Holy Night sung by Sandy Patti. We had the privelege of seeing her live at a Christmas Concert. Just the day before she had to have emergency gall bladder surgery. Most of the other performers were all dancing around the circular stage. All she could do was stand by a stool and hold on. But I'm telling you she sang Oh Holy Night without missing a beat changing keys at least 4 or 5 times during the rendition. It was amazing!
    (I'll bet you didn't expect a lengthy explanation of my favorite song...OK...moving right along!!!)
    God bless!

  8. Anne Murray's "Christmas Wishes"

    My friend, Becca, tells a story about her family's holiday tradition. The story made me love the song. Our contemporary Christian band, SALT (singing and living true), plays it at many, many events during the holiday season.

    Her story goes like this: "My mom was a caterer, and her specialty was Christmas trays. She baked tens of thousands of cookies every year, and my six siblings helped assemble the trays. We only had two Christmas records, Elvis and Anne Murray. We all assembled trays of cookies and sang along with Anne. Christmas Wishes was my favorite."

    When she told us her story, her face was full of love and light and laughter. We searched and searched, but never did find that old vinyl record. Instead, we loved the music into being with our own brand of SALT-i-ness. During our annual Christmas concert, in honor of Becca's mom, we give each attendee a cookie or two while we sing the song and play a video of our own families enjoying the holiday.

    Love, music, family, and Christ.

  9. Oh come, oh come Emmanuel is my favorite Christmas hymn, and Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas is my fave secular. I don't know what it says that they're both slightly haunting melodies, but I love them anyway.

  10. Drummer Boy - Bing Crosby and David Bowie. I love good harmony and when they start over lapping the two songs, it's just magic for my ears.

    Hard Candy Christmas - Dolly Parton. Mainly because it's the unmistakable sound and emotion of Dolly Parton.

    Since being in the UK where they have their own variety of songs for the Season, I've learned to love, "I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday" by British rock band Slade.

    Hearing Noddy shout "IT'S CHRISTMAS!!!" is a welcome sound to the Season.

    You wouldn't harm yourself none picking up a copy of the CD "Now That's What I call Christmas" from the UK off of Amazon and see if you find yourself some new (to you) Christmas favourites.

    Merry Christmas!

  11. Since I've been wanting to order and read your book, I cooudn't resist taking Mer's advice and heading over here...

    I love "Oh Holy Night". It's lyrics are so powerful. It gives me chills.

    I do love a good "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" as well. And there's just something about the old crooners (like Bing, etc.) singing them that REALLY makes them special.

    I'm not opposed to winning a little "life juice", as I like to call coffee, either.:)

  12. Hi John! I'm excited to read your new book! My favorite Christmas song is "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day." I've loved it ever since I was a little girl. I love the story that it tells, and the victory of "God is not dead nor doth he sleep!" Always makes me sing louder. :)

  13. Wowzers..lots of takers on this one, huh?!

    Asking me to pick ANY fave song is like asking me to pick a fave, I'll just say the two that pop into my mind first (then think of 100 others I soon as I publish the comment).

    "O Holy Night"--Josh Groban, his voice gives me chills and there's something sacred to me about those lyrics.

    "O Come, O Come Emmanuel"--Erin O'Donnell's version--the cry of Israel...I cry to Him too.

    any choir singing "Carol of the Bells" blows me away the harmonies, melodies, combining.

    "It's Beginning to Look Alot Like Christmas"--Johnny Mathis, I ADORE this one when I'm out w/ the crazies on Black Friday!! Makes me giddy.

    "The Christmas Song"--Nat King Cole..from the very first word "chestnuts"..he captivates, makes me feel so warm and makes me want to feel all Currier and Ives.


    "Hard Candy Christmas"--the one and only Dolly Parton...I must belt "me, I'll be just FIIIINNE and DANDY, lord, it's like a HARD CANDY CHRISTMAS!".

    Wow. I did better than I thought..although I could keep going...

    Alright, Jack...make me proud!

  14. I'm going Drummer Boy, don't care who sings it, although I am partial to a Jazz version the wife gave me years ago. I think, in a season of agonizing over gifts, it's important to remember that what God wants is for us to play our best for Him, plus I like rolling my Rs.

    For me, the other side of the coin is Baby, It's Cold Outside. There's just something about it.

  15. Hi John...

    My favorite Christmas song for many years has been Hark the Herald Angels Sing. Tis so all encompassing. Love the fact that tis true to the story.

  16. i'm eager to read your book, and how much better can it get to read it with here's my entry.

    while i love the joy and hope depicted in most christmas songs, i am haunted by a medieval lullaby called "coventry carol". it refers to part of Jesus' early story that is often left untouched in our version of christmas. and i have to wonder if we are afraid, if i am afraid, of this piece of Christmas.


    Lully lullay, thou little tiny child,
    By by lully lullay.

    Oh sisters too, how may we do
    For to preserve this day
    This poor youngling for whom we sing
    By by lully lullay.

    Herod the king, in his raging,
    Charged he hath this day
    His men of might in his own sight
    All children young to slay.

    That woe is me, poor child, for thee,
    And ever mourn and pray.
    For thy parting, neither say nor sing,
    By by lully lullay.

  17. "Have a Holly Jolly Christmas" by Burl Ives.

  18. Joy to the World

    Growing up, my best friend's Mom loved christmas songs and this was her favorite. She passed away a few years ago and we sang this song at her funeral. Every year I sing it and think of her all our fun memories together.

  19. Hey John! My favorite Christmas song has always been Away In a Manger. It still amazes me that God picked this way to send Jesus into the world. My second favorite is Silent Night - mainly because it's Neill's favorite. I especially like the John Denver and the Muppets version where John tells the story of how it was written in the middle of the song. Thanks for writing a book this year. It's what everyone is getting for Christmas!!

  20. Gotta get in on this one - I missed the first give away!

    1) O Come, O Come Emmanuel - I love the word "ransom" in connection with Christmas. He really is our rescuer in every sense of the word!

    2) A choral song I learned in high school called Baby, What You Goin' to Be? I found a choir singing it on YouTube so here's the link, and you can judge for yourself!

  21. As a middle aged child of the deep south, I have come to appreciate more and more the third stanza of a Christmas hymn that I have loved all of my life. That is O Holy Night. I looked it up in my Mam Ma's old shaped note Broadman Hymnal to ensure that I share it faithfully. To my great disappointment, it wan't there. Here it is:

    "Truly He taught us to love one another; His law is love and His gospel is peace. Chains shall He break, for the slave is our brother, And in His name all oppression shall cease. Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we, Let all within us praise His holy name. Christ is the Lord, Then ever, ever praise we; His pow'r and glory ever more proclaim, His pow'r and glory ever more proclaim."

  22. Friend of mine on FaceBook pointed me here (thanks, DeeDee!). There are sooooooo many great songs of the Christmas season (most of my list already mentioned above). There is one song that I do love to hear called "A Strange Way to Save the World" by 4Him. It catches my attention as most of God's plans do because if you look at it logically, sending Emmanuel, God with us, doesen't make sense. How much harder was it for those involved firsthand to accept on faith what God had promised?

  23. "Do you hear what I hear?" - it just reminds me of the real reason we celebrate Christmas.

  24. Mary did you know..I can just imagine her today..hearing what her son has done in this age and!!!She was sooo proud of him then imagine now..This song gives me chills hearing it..Thank you for the opportunity of winning this great giveaway!!

  25. My favorite Christmas music is "Joseph's Song" because my husband would love to sing it on Christmas Eve at church. (I would accompany him). This year he gets to sing with the angels, so it will be a bittersweet time for my daughter and I.

  26. I just stumbled upon your blog and I don't think it was by accident. I was just relaying to my mother-in-law this past week how I'm so sick of commericalized Christmas and think we should step away from that and reflect on the real meaning. She agreed and now we're making plans for our what will be the best Christmas yet.

    Anyway, my favorite song is Blue Christmas by Elvis because every year after we decorate our tree, we turn down the lights, turn on Elvis, and plug in the tree to mavel at our masterpiece. Then my hubby sings Blue Christmas to me while the kids gleefully dance around giggling. Oh the magic, I hope it never ends. :-)

  27. My Christmas pick is
    "Stable Boy Song," by the Mountain Goats.

    Here come the times of changing tide.
    Here come the days of light and grace.
    Here come the hours of wordless wondrousness.
    Light, light will fill this humble place.

    When you come, the stars will shine brighter than spun gold.
    When you come, the world will seem shiny and new.
    My mom told me that someday someone like you would come to set things right.
    'Till you come, I'll keep this place ready for you.

  28. My favorite Christmas song is "Joy to the World"

  29. My favorite is Oh Holy just doesn't get much better than "...fall on your knees, oh hear the angel voices, Oh night Divine, Oh night when Christ was born!" Gets me excited for Christmas just hearing these words. Thanks, John!

  30. OH MY WORD - who can compete with Kendra's I'll Be Home For Christmas??!! (read through the appreciative blur of tears, here)

    but... my favourite Christmas song is Oh Come Oh Come Emmanuel just something about the mournful lyrics rising into the jubilant rephrase sings the song of His Grace's own heart (to me)...


  31. Believe it or not, my favorite secular song is 'I want a Hippopotamus for Christmas'.....I also love Silent Night!

  32. I love 'Santa Bring My Baby Back to Me' ...Mom was a big Elvis fan! And I love 'Silent Night'!

  33. One of my favorite Christmas songs that really sets the mood of Christmas is, "Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire". Silent Night brings me to tears because of the beauty of it and most recently I love, love Faith Hill's, "A Baby Changes Everything". I know I picked 3, but this is hard!

    Thanks for the giveaway.

  34. It's too hard to pick just one! I do love Joseph's Lullaby an exceptional amount though.

  35. Mine is easily Silent Night when sung on Christmas Eve at our church with all of the lights dimmed and everyone holding their candles...faces glowing in the light. Just beautiful.

  36. 35?!?!?! Ok...this must be done:

    Dear Jack,
    I know that there are many people here for this drawing but it's me, Tiff. One of the first and I'll be here til the end. By now you should know my smell from hangin' out here for so use that hound dog nose to find the familiar my friend...It's T-I-F-F-A-N-I, just in case you decide to use your eyes instead of your nose. I won't go to bribery but I will say I can at least put in a good word with Papa John (I ain't talkin' pizza) to give an extra Trader Joe's treat to you. Sound like a plan?! Ok, I'll be waiting anxiously on Friday morning to hear what a swell job you did. Rest up, buddy and I'll see you then!!

    Pawsitively forever your friend,

  37. While tempted to mention any of the host of Elvis' Christmas songs, I'd have to say "Bethlehem Dawn" by Todd Agnew.

    "This little baby
    is crying my tears for me.
    This little baby
    is bathing in my shame.
    This little baby
    is giving up His glory
    To take my place, to light the way."

  38. Picking favorites makes me break out in hives. This isn't my favorite (we have no Benadryl in the house, so that needs to be clear that this is a loved song but not necessarily a favorite), but I could listen to "Welcome to Our World" over and over and over and then over again. It's one of those Christmas songs that I keep in my playlist to play all year.

  39. Picking favorites makes me break out in hives. This isn't my favorite (we have no Benadryl in the house, so that needs to be clear that this is a loved song but not necessarily a favorite), but I could listen to "Welcome to Our World" over and over and over and then over again. It's one of those Christmas songs that I keep in my playlist to play all year.

  40. Hmmm, I love Christmas music so this is difficult. "O Holy Night" stands out for a traditional one. Love the clear message and gentle way it rolls out.

    Josh Groban's "The Christmas Song" is mighty close to the top as well though.

  41. Merry Christmas From the Family by Robert Earl keen because it never fails to make me laugh.

  42. Definitely "O Holy Night" Nothing makes me feel the sense of awe like that song.

  43. Mary, Did You Know? Has been my favorite Christmas song since my son was born. I know that having a son of my own cannot compare to being Jesus' mother, but the song touches me now like it never did before.


  44. Pretty much anything from Bing Crosby's "Merry Christmas" know, the one where he's wearing the Santa hat on the cover. I love his version of "Jingle Bells" (j-j-j-jingle bells), and "Adeste Fideles" just takes me back to my Grandmother and Granddaddy's home and countless Christmases spent there...

  45. Here's the fact: I like 'em all. I can't begin to have a favorite. But if I *had* to chose, I'd put it this way. There is something magical about those jingle bells at the beginning of Mariah Carey's "All I want for Christmas."

    Every Thanksgiving, Amber and I make our way southward to her home country. It's a long, 13 hour trip. The trip out has no jingle bells, relatively few Christmas lights, and with 3 children under the age of 5, can sometimes be less than jolly. But every year, as we make our Saturday post-Thanksgiving journey, a magical transformation occurs about the time we reach Memphis (that slum-dog town I know and love). As we pass the Pyramid, as if on cue, the jingle bells start to shake in rythm. Mariah starts her tune "I don't want a lot for Christmas, there's just one thing I need. I don't care about the presents underneath the Christmas tree..."
    And somehow, Christmas begins at that very moment and I begin contemplating the magic of a redemptive birth.

    If you'd like third party verification, you can ask Amber. It's true.

    Is that weird, or is it just me?

  46. I have many favorites, but one that stands out above the rest is "I Wonder as I Wander," specifically the rendition by Barbra Streisand. The song is written in a minor key, which is a bit uncharacteristic of Christmas songs. The lyrics describe the wonder of how Jesus came to earth as a baby and ultimately died for our sin. Every time I hear it, I am reminded of God's unselfish love for me.