Christmas carols being sung by a choir . . .

Just like my fall reflections on the greatest autumnal music around, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to my favorite holiday tunes! It just can’t be the Christmas season until I’ve heard several of my favorite songs — many of them by particular artists. Everyone connects with music differently and remembers it nostalgically, and here are the tunes I absolutely have to hear to feel holly and jolly!

The Ray Conniff Singers

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My first choice has strong ancestral origins: my grandfather used to play the Ray Conniff Singers’ classic holiday album “Christmas with Conniff” every year while my mom, aunt and Grandma helped decorate the tree and Grandpa put up his famed Christmas village beneath the tree. Originally released in 1959, this is definitely one of the most “classic” of my favorite seasonal albums! As soon as my parents married in 1980, Mom had to have Conniff to play while they put up their own tree. My aunt actually went out and bought the CD, too, without discussing it with anyone. Eventually we all realized we continue to play “Christmas with Conniff” year after year! “Silver Bells,” “Christmas Bride” and “White Christmas” are my favorites — beautiful, simple and filled with the resonate voices of a choir. Check it out at Amazon — you can play snippets, too.

Elvis Presley

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Just as Ray Conniff is a holiday staple for my mom, Elvis Presley’s holiday album “It’s Christmas Time” is a staple for my dad. My grandmother is a huge Presley fan and, though many new holiday compilation albums have come out over the years, this one is my favorite: simple, only ten songs. “Blue Christmas” and “Santa Bring My Baby Back (To Me)” can’t be missed!

Hanson

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And now we get into our tunes! My sister and I have been devoted Hanson fans since 1997. While my crazy, obsessive love of the three guys from Tulsa, Okla. has become more managable and less a part of my daily life over the years, we always return to their 1997 holiday album “Snowed In” for general tree decorating and feeling young again. Taylor’s aching vocals on “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” still resonate with me! Katie loves Zac’s rendition of “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” and the boys even put out a few original songs on this one: “At Christmas,” “Everybody Knows the Claus” and “Christmas Time.” Still a classic around my house, even though it’s now out-of-print! And we even have the cassette tape version!

Mariah Carey

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Who can get through the holidays without belting out “All I Want for Christmas Is You”? It’s just not natural! That tune alone makes Carey’s 1994 album “Merry Christmas” worth the price of admission. That song caused quite the stir at my fourth grade holiday talent show . . . mostly because every little girl at our school wanted to jig around singing it on stage. Sadly, I didn’t make the cut when auditioning — but I still love that song!

‘NSYNC

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And we’re back to boy bands! Ah, yes — the days of my outrageous infatuation with all things ‘NSYNC and, specifically, Justin Timberlake. Their 1998 release “Home For Christmas” really is a great album, though, and spawned a few contemporary holiday songs still buzzing around radio stations and playlists this time of year. “I Never Knew The Meaning Of Christmas” is beautiful, as is “The Only Gift.” I still know every word by heart!

And what about everyone out there? I know everyone has their classics they can’t live without!

Let’s go way back — into fan fiction!

In a fine example of how you should absolutely always be careful about what you put online because it never really goes away, Brandon sent me a link to an archives site . . . an archive of the entire Internet. Yes! They’re archiving the ENTIRE INTERNET on the Wayback Machine!

Don’t believe me? Here’s a link to megan’s space of hitz, a Hanson fan site I started in 1998. I was twelve! It’s been defunct for at least five years — probably longer. I can’t begin to tell you the sense of nostalgia this produced . . . let’s just say it was insane! And this is excellent ammunition for anyone who would someday like to blackmail me. Here, let me help you!

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I was an incredibly dedicated Hanson fan — and, later, an incredibly dedicated ‘NSYNC fan. And I’ve been writing books since I was a kid. I now give you the greatest ammunition of all . . . a little thing called Love You Latte. I would have provided the link through the Wayback Machine, but it turns out the book is still there! All 63 chapters! In case you’re a touch confused, I used to go by the handle “gems” — it’s “Meg” backwards, plus a little “s” there. And let me just say, I once considered myself Miss Thing in the ‘NSYNC fan fiction world! Whew. In all seriousness, I was really proud of that story. I haven’t gone back to read any of it — I’m sure it’s more than a little cringe-inducing — but I was very proud that I sat down and worked so tirelessly on something in high school. I had such a thrill working on that tome! And with more than 100,000 hits, I guess I did all right.

But no, I no longer respond to e-mail addressed to “Justin’s Sugarbaby.” Sad, right? I don’t know when Justin Timberlake stopped being the No. 1 man in my life, but I’m tracing it to somewhere around my sixteenth birthday.

Okay, that’s enough going “way back” for today . . . I’m going to stay firmly ensconced in 2008 for a little while! And start my weekend now!

Not something you can easily part with

high_school_musical_3_poster My mom had David Cassidy. Friends had Rick Springfield, New Edition, New Kids on the Block and Michael J. Fox. My sister and I lovingly adored Hanson, ‘NSYNC and, occasionally, Devon Sawa and Jonathan Taylor Thomas (oh yes, J.T.T.!). And now, in yet another chapter of “teenage rites of passage,” my 12-year-old cousin has Zac Efron, the Jonas Brothers and “High School Musical.” It’s hard to believe we’ve already gotten to that teen-crush stage, but I’m happy we’re able to share some of that heart-pining misery!

Now, I’m 23 years old — not exactly beyond the realm of school-girl crushes. And I still have a few! Start up a friendly chat about John Mayer, James Franco or James McAvoy and I’m right there with my latest spate of celebrity gossip. Either I really dig boys with “J” names in general or I’m never beyond the realm of ogling a cute guy.

Do we ever really get beyond the realm of ogling a cute guy?

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We still love Hanson!

And even though Hanson has been out of the limelight for ten years or so, my sister and I have religiously followed their careers, marriages, children and various other activities since I was 11 — and she was 8. Eight years old! That’s not something you easily part with.

And my mom reminded me in 1997, as she reminds me now, that these fads come and go — all young women need someone to screech and squeal and discuss at slumber parties and walks around the mall. Take the Beatles as Exhibit A. Does anyone really get over their first-time-discovery love of the Beatles? It’s pretty much impossible.

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