Is an instrumental actually a song? Let's forgo those semantics with the understanding that this won't be the last time you find a recording without words on this list.
Several of our beloved Christmas television specials are based on songs: "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," "Frosty the Snowman" and "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" come immediately to mind.
And yet, the one with the most iconic music is "A Charlie Brown Christmas."
As a child, I wondered how Schroeder got such a big sound out of that tiny baby grand. (As an adult I wonder how his posture at the ivories didn't kill his back.)
In college, I discovered jazz. After several years of Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Bill Evans and Thelonius Monk, I came to realize that I'd been listening to one particular piece of jazz since I was a small child.
For that big sound didn't come from Schroeder, but from the Vince Guaraldi Trio and a simple lineup of piano, bass and drums.
Through his originals and adaptations, Guaraldi brings the world of Charles Schultz to life. As delightful as the animation may be, it's the tunes that really get the scenes of that special stuck on replay in my head.
In "O Tannenbaum," he takes a holiday song that I can normally do without turns it into five minutes of enchanting, improvisational Christmas spirit.
The song's placement in the special doesn't hurt either. Right after Linus delivers his "Lights, please" speech (one of my top five Christmas moments each year), Guaraldi and Co. light into this version of "O Tannenbaum" and we are on our journey to our happy ending -- with the kids finishing up the show with our song from yestereday.
As I write this on Monday evening, my son is watching "A Charlie Brown Christmas." I know he's probably too young to really get the "meaning of Christmas" stuff, but I hope he just enjoys it the way I did 30 years ago.
Keep watching and someday he'll also discover jazz and the meaning of Christmas and all the other lessons in that deceptively simple cartoon.
Doesn't anybody know the real meaning of Christmas? A little boy with a blanket does.
Due for Dec. 4: "Blue Christmas"
The 24 days of Christmas (songs)
Dec. 1: 'Sleigh Ride' -- The Ronettes
Dec. 2: 'Hark! The Herald Angels Sing' -- Marty Robbins