O Me of Little Faith

O Me of Little Faith

The Christmas Best and Worst List

It’s the first day of December, so I thought I’d make a Christmas best and worst list. Because people like lists, and because I am people.

Best Traditional Christmas Carol:
O Little Town of Bethlehem

Beautiful melody and lovely lyrics without any dumb “sweet baby Jesus doesn’t even cry” ideas (see below). Second place goes to “O Holy Night,” for being in 3/4 time and for the emotionally resonant transition to the “Fall on your knees” chorus.

Worst Traditional Christmas Carol:
Away in a Manger


Has to be the sappiest Jesus song ever. “Little Lord Jesus no crying he makes”? Please. “Look down from the sky”? Probably not, unless Jesus is ballooning. Bad theology all around.

Best New Christmas Song:
Babe in the Straw

I prefer the original version by Derri Daugherty, Steve Hindalong, and Riki Michele from the Noel album (as opposed to subsequent versions by Leigh Nash or Caedmon’s Call). Sidenote: of all the songs in the world, I have performed/sung/played this one the most in front of people.


Worst New(ish) Christmas Song:
Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree

This isn’t that new — it was first written and recorded by Brenda Lee in 1958. But why has this become the go-to upbeat song on Christmas albums? Is it because it has “rockin'” in the title? So annoying. But it ends up on pretty much every Christmas album. Thanks, Brenda Lee.

Best Nativity Set:
Playmobil Nativity Set


My family has this (that’s ours in the photo above). I loved Playmobil stuff when I was a kid, even though they weren’t as poseable as Star Wars figurines. My kids still play with this nativity scene, by the way, and there have been times when Darth Vader has shown up lurking behind the Wise Men. It all turns out OK, though, because Yoda can hide behind the manger.

Worst Nativity Set:
Any Nativity Made of Snowmen


Look, I understand that snowmen are cute and seasonal and stuff. But a carrot-nosed Baby Jesus who might melt come March is the worst kind of savior.

Best Holiday Special:
The Charlie Brown Christmas Special

I’ve shared my love for this holiday classic before. From the mystical group hand-waving that turns a scrawny tree into a beautifully decorated masterpiece, to the direct recital of the Christmas story from Luke 2, there’s no contest between this show and any others.


Worst Holiday Special:
He-Man and She-ra: A Christmas Special (1985)

Apparently I missed this special, but if it was anything like the cartoon TV series, it was awesomely cheesy, had homosexual undertones, and featured a character named “Man-at-Arms.”

Best Christmas Color:


I think this is an obvious choice.

Worst Christmas Color:



Your turn. What’s on your best and worst Christmas lists? Notice I’ve left out Best Christmas Movie and Worst Christmas Movie. I know you’ve got some opinions there.

Comments read comments(28)
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posted December 1, 2009 at 10:53 am

My daughter will disagree with you on Away in the Manger. She requests it at bedtime from November until May. Gotta agree with the Playmobil Nativity Set.Was The Stars Wars Holiday Special considered? I think it gives He-man a run for his money.

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Joshua Skogerboe

posted December 1, 2009 at 10:58 am

Seriously? He Man? Holy Hannah.I'd just like to add my voice to the angry mob agreeing with you that "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" makes me want to choke the life out of small furry animals.Favorite Christmas hymn is "Silent Night," although "What Child is This?" makes a strong showing. And although it is theologically suspect and chronologically innacutare as a work of biographical fiction, "Little Drummer Boy" is still a sentimental favorite. I am a drummer, after all. Pa rum pa pum pum.Favorite Worship Album in the last few years goes to Andrew Peterson's "Behold the Lamb of God: The True Tall Tale of the Coming Christ" by the way. He's actually able to bring a FRESH perspective on this very familiar season. SO GOOD.

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Dan Lewis

posted December 1, 2009 at 10:58 am

Green is my favorite color *sniff*. You've ruined Christmas for me Jason Boyett! Just kidding, even though green really is my favorite color, it can be a really gross color, especially during cold and flu season. So yea, maybe green is a bad choice for this time of year. Perhaps they chose it because it is red's complimentary color. Color theory FTW!

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posted December 1, 2009 at 11:11 am

Andrew Peterson's Behold the Lamb is the best Christmas album I own. Next would be Noel followed by Over the Rhine's Darkest Night of the year.Best Christmas movie(s) are White Christmas and It's a Wonderful Life. A Christmas Story is a close second Worst Christmas movie? Any of the remakes of the It's a Wonderful Life where George Bailey anything but a guy and The Santa Clause franchise.

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Brett Barner

posted December 1, 2009 at 11:13 am

Those snowmen are possibly the creepiest nativity I've ever seen.

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posted December 1, 2009 at 11:24 am

The s'mores nativity set is worse than the snowmen.Christmas Shoes is the worst newish song.

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j a n

posted December 1, 2009 at 11:37 am

Best Christmas tree: noble fir, hung with beautiful ornaments & garland.Worst Christmas tree: the silver tinsel tree with blue/green/red turning spotlight…

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chris nelson

posted December 1, 2009 at 11:58 am

Jason, your wisdom shows by your selection of Away in a Manger to your worst list. I commented once in a sermon about the bad theology of the song and how it lessons the truth of the incarnation. Two weeks later on christmas eve, our church organist started playing the tune as an interlude to our candlelight service! Bad theology doesn't go away easily!! And yes, I don't think she agreed with me.

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posted December 1, 2009 at 12:00 pm

"Must be Santa" by Bob Dylan is either the absolute best Christmas song ever or the absolute worst. My feelings go back and forth every 5 minutes.

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Tess Mallory

posted December 1, 2009 at 12:12 pm

Hey Jason! Thanks for turning me on to the Babe in the Straw song. I love it. Here's my input on the grand debate:Best Christmas SongS:O Come O Come Emmanuel (very somber I know, but when they get to the Rejoice part, my soul just soars!) What Child is ThisLittle Drummer BoyWorst Christmas Song EVER –(You are wrong Jason, not Rocking Round the Christmas Tree. The worst one is — drum roll– )I WANT A HIPPOPOTAMUS FOR CHRISTMAS!! Whoever wrote that song should be taken out and flayed with cords from various electrical appliances. Best Christmas Movie: A Christmas Story Best Christmas Color:GREEN!!!! The color of Life!! Worst Christmas Color:RED– obviously a demonic color. Who picked that one? Pink would have been so much better. *snicker*Loved the nativities. I vote for the Snow men one. So sweet. And Baby Jesus won't melt, he has the power to control the elements!! Best Christmas Special — Charlie Brown of course.Worst Christmas Special — Any show that combines He Man and Christmas isn't just bad, it's a travesty. You got that right! :))Thanks for giving me a smile today!

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posted December 1, 2009 at 12:36 pm

You know, Jason, every December I think to myself, "OK, I won't trash Christmas publicly this year – I'll just keep my mouth shut and not rage against this insane assault on the senses that takes up more than six weeks of the year" – and yet, here I am on the afternoon of the first day of December and I can't hold it in any longer (just remember, you broke open this can of worms…)OK, first, yes – I hate Christmas – yes, I am a practicing Christian, oh, just read the blog post about it here –, here's the thing – for all of you who like and/or love this holiday – PLEASE do all of us a favor and start filtering our the junk. What I mean is this, if there's a truly lame song that for whatever reason makes it into the top 40, well, we put up with it for a few months, then it goes away – but if it's a lame song with ANY Christmas connection at all, then we have to hear that same, stupid song over and over again EVERY year!Same thing goes for movies – Do we REALLY need another re-creation of "A Christmas Carol"? Do we REALLY need another "instant holiday classic" about a kid/dog/deer/llama/elf/iguana/etc. that helps Santa save Christmas? Again, crappy movies are made all the time, and they fade into oblivion, but if it's got jingle bells in it, then we get it crammed down our throat EVERY December.Again, those of you who actually like this holiday, PLEASE take some pride in it, call your radio stations and tell them to stop playing the garbage – call your television outlets and beg them to stop airing those lame specials.That's my little rant for now (there's more, but I'm trying to pace myself)

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posted December 1, 2009 at 12:47 pm

Favorite movie had got to be National Lampoons Christmas Vacation, it's a family fav of ours. It's so very American. Also really hate "Rockin". I do really like the Relient K Christmas albums as well as the Happy Christmas series. Oldschool.

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Chris Hill

posted December 1, 2009 at 1:23 pm

Best Christmas Movie: Home Alone. Why? Because I'm 26 years old.Worst Christmas Movie: Christmas Child (A Max Lucado Story) Starring Steven Curtis Chapman featured on Fa La La La Lifetime around this time of year.If you still need a reason why it's the worst, let me put it this way: It's what would happen if Gilmore Girls and The Buttercream Gang had too much to drink at a company Christmas party.

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Harry-Rami Itie

posted December 1, 2009 at 1:29 pm

Sherrie Lord

posted December 1, 2009 at 2:41 pm

Two of the BEST Christmas movies:Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas (from the Jim Henson crew, great music by Paul Williams)&The Snowman (Book & DVD; haunting music by Howard Blake; this one's hard to find)

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posted December 1, 2009 at 4:17 pm

Best Christmas Movie – ElfI've always had a problem with the Rudolph song. It just bothers me that the reindeer were so immature as to make fun of him because he had a different colored nose. And then as soon as he helped them, everything was forgiven? And why didn't Santa put a stop to the teasing as soon as it began? I like to believe that reindeer are kinder than that and Santa is a better leader than the song implies.

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posted December 1, 2009 at 6:25 pm

Worst Christmas song has to be The Carol of the Bells. It's so frenetic it sounds downright psychotic!@TessI also really like Oh Come Oh Come Emmanuel and have heard a very interesting version by a heavy metal Christian group. The results were really effective, almost epic.

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posted December 1, 2009 at 8:05 pm

I agree with you on away in a manger. So unbelievably prissy

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posted December 1, 2009 at 8:56 pm

I don't have an opinion about the "best" Christmas movie, but the worst (and classic since its almost 50 years old) is "Santa Claus Conquers the Marians" which is worst then "The Starwars Holiday Special" (disowned by Lucus) and the horrid He-man special.- Fastthumbs

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posted December 2, 2009 at 1:13 am

If done well, "O Holy Night" is one of my favorite Christmas songs. On the other hand, if I don't hear "The Christmas Shoes" this year, it truly will be a Merry Christmas.

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posted December 2, 2009 at 2:21 am

I think my favorite traditional Christmas Carol would have to be "O Holy Night".I've always really enjoyed the Christmas movie "The Preacher's Wife" with Denzel Washington; it's a remake of the old Cary Grant movie "The Bishops Wife" and I like both of the them. But I adore Whitney Huston singing the gospel tunes in the new version.

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posted December 2, 2009 at 9:06 am

I'll echo the praise for "O Holy Night". My Christmas playlist has three different renditions of, Mariah Carey, Celine Dion, and Josh Groban. All three give me goosebumps.Worst song is "The Christmas Shoes". Worst…Song….Ever! Christmas is a happy time not a time to hear about some kid begging for money so he can buy his dying mom some shoes.

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posted December 2, 2009 at 9:31 am

My recommendation for holiday fun: when someone has big wooden blocks on their mantle that spell SANTA, rearrange them to spell SATAN. Having Old Scratch's name spelled out in jolly letters amidst the garland and hollyberry candles is a really satisfying juxtaposition. Plus it makes them look weird to visitors until they discover it.

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posted December 2, 2009 at 10:05 am

Worst Christmas song ever = Silent Night.I was about to explain/rant about why but figured it would be too long for a comment.

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posted December 2, 2009 at 10:39 am

I now have an opinion on the "Best Christmas Movie" (Holiday special?)… I just saw "Shrek the Halls" last night and I just laughed through the entired half hour special. – Fastthumbs

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John Armstrong

posted December 2, 2009 at 4:03 pm

Best traditional carol – Oh Come All Ye FaithfulBest new song – Welcome to Our World – Chris RiceWorst new song – 3 way tie – Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time – Paul McCartney,Dominick the Italian Christmas Donkey, Christmas Shoes (Our church did a musical based onsong a few years ago. Oh my.)Best movie – White ChristmasWe have the Fisher Price Little People Nativity Set. The glowing star on top plays (you guessedit) Away in a Manger.

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posted December 7, 2009 at 11:56 am

I would argue that perhaps another contender for worst Nativity scene would be the one in which Tommy from Rugrats plays the role of Jesus. I wish I were joking.

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posted March 24, 2010 at 2:04 pm

Worst Holiday Special:Four words:STAR. WARS. HOLIDAY. SPECIAL.I'd forgotten it completely until a "friend" dug it up on YouTube and sent it to me last year. Which triggered a flashback — I CAN'T UNSEE IT!!!!!!!

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