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Exploring some favorite Christmas songs beyond that Mariah Carey tune

ELISSA NADWORNY, HOST:

Christmas music - whether you love it or hate it, you can't escape it. And no shade to Mariah, but there's more to Christmas music than what you hear on your Top-40 station. So we wanted to suggest some deeper cuts for all those celebrating today. For this, we're handing it over to our colleagues, who started discussing their holiday favorites on the NPR #old-jams Slack channel, a place where staff share, quote, "sweet, sweet jams that make us feel things." We'll kick things off with National Desk digital editor Tanya Ballard Brown, who spoke to us on her last day as an NPR employee.

TANYA BALLARD BROWN, BYLINE: So one of the songs that I always listen to during the holidays is "Let It Snow" by Boyz II Men, and Brian McKnight does a feature on there. It's like, you know, a nice little R&B flow to the, you know, (singing) let it snow, let it snow. And they're like, (singing) let it snow.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LET IT SNOW")

BOYZ II MEN: (Singing) Let it snow. Outside is cold, but the fire's blazing, so baby, let it snow.

BROWN: I do not like snow. However (laughter), I love Boyz II Men. And this is a good love song. You know, they're like, let's be hugged up. I love you, you know? You're my gift, and I'm your gift. And it's, you know, kind of cheesy, but, you know, when you think about being with your loved one - like, your boo, your bae - not necessarily your family or your framily (ph) but your boo or your bae over the holidays, and y'all are, like, looking all deeply into each other's eyes.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LET IT SNOW")

BOYZ II MEN: (Singing) Come over here, and help me trim the tree. I want to wrap you up, baby. Then you'll see you're the only present I need.

TINBETE ERMYAS, BYLINE: Hey, my name is Tinbete Ermyas, and I'm an editor here at WEEKEND ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. And the song that I picked is Donny Hathaway's "This Christmas."

(SOUNDBITE OF DONNY HATHAWAY'S "THIS CHRISTMAS")

ERMYAS: There's a million reasons why I love this song. First, there's Donny Hathaway himself - that amazing rich soulful voice.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THIS CHRISTMAS")

DONNY HATHAWAY: (Singing) Hang all the mistletoe. I'm going to get to know you better this Christmas.

ERMYAS: But there's also other reasons that I love it. Every year, we have an annual Christmas party, and inevitably, we always end up either turning on the radio or putting together a playlist, and this song is almost always part of that, and so it just reminds me of family and love and warmth and the holidays. And even though this year is going to be very different - you know, we're going to be having that holiday party be a Zoom; you know, a lot of us are all over the country; some of us are in different parts of the world - you know, whenever I hear that song it just - it's like a time machine for me in a lot of ways. It just takes me back to the good old days, to the times when we were all together and having fun.

SARAH HANDEL, BYLINE: My name is Sarah Handel, and I am an editor on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. One of my absolute favorite Christmas songs is "A Christmas To Remember" by Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "A CHRISTMAS TO REMEMBER")

DOLLY PARTON AND KENNY ROGERS: (Singing) You've made this a Christmas to remember. Springtime feelings in the middle of December. Strangers meet and willingly surrender. Oh, what a Christmas to remember.

HANDEL: Kenny and Dolly have incredible chemistry. You might remember them from "Islands In The Stream." And this song does not disappoint when it comes to that sort of sparkle that the two have when they sing together. It is warm and a little saucy and romantic, and it just feels like you're in the ski chalet with them, with the fire burning and crackling and the two of them making eyes at each other. It's just a lot of fun.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "A CHRISTMAS TO REMEMBER")

DOLLY PARTON: (Singing) With a fast-talking lover, with some slow-burning wood. But even in my wildest dreams, it never got this good, and...

PARTON AND ROGERS: (Singing) You've made this a Christmas to remember. Springtime feelings in the middle of December.

NADWORNY: For Saturday, that's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Elissa Nadworny. Thanks for listening. And to those of you celebrating today, we want to wish you a Merry Christmas. Stay safe, and have a good night. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.