By Whitney Pastorek
December 24, 2008 at 10:47 PM EST

Ah, Christmas. There’s no other holiday in which music plays so big a part, and, at least in the Pastorek  household, our memories are accompanied by the same albums, year in and year out. I can’t pack to go home without listening to Amy Grant’s A Christmas Album (don’t judge). Santa doesn’t come without the bombast of the Robert Shaw Chorale, or the jazzy pleasures of the Glenn Miller Orchestra and In the Christmas Mood. We even remember the crappy albums fondly — one year, someone came home with a collection in which every single line was followed by the ding of a bell. Seriously. Like, “Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer… [DING!] Had a very shiny nose… [DING-DING!!]” We tossed it out so fast we can’t even remember what it was. Now, we miss it.

But there’s one album that’s so sacred it comes a close second to standing in church with a candle on Christmas Eve and singing “Silent Night”: John Denver & The Muppets’ A Christmas Together. It’s the soundtrack to a tragically-forgotten TV special from 1979, and from Denver’s goosebump-inducing duet with Rowlf the Dog on “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” to the spastic joys of Miss Piggy, Scooter, Gonzo, and Robin doing the rounds on “Christmas is Coming,” every inch of it is wonderful, and I cannot — will not — have Christmas without it. That album is family.

What about you, PopWatchers? Are there holiday albums you can’t live without? I crave your recommendations… plus, I just love hearing other people’s Christmas traditions. Share ’em in the comments. And meanwhile, please enjoy John Denver and the Muppets performing “The 12 Days of Christmas.” (Ba-dump-bump-bump!)

More on holiday music:
U2, Elton John, and the Killers record Xmas songs for charity
The 100 Greatest Down-and-Out-on-Christmas Songs
The holiday songs you secretly hate
EW picked out 10 great holiday songs

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