1986: Come On, Ring Those Bells. Yes, on a record. Yes, I really am that old. There is nothing like the Christmas album you put on when you were an 8 year old, no matter how many more aesthetically appealing and less scratched albums come along later.
1992: Handel's Messiah. Still my favorite way to start the Christmas season. I used to turn it on the day after Thanksgiving and scrub the house from top to bottom and get out all the Christmas ornaments. This year I turned it on and crawled in bed with a book.
1997: Grunt. Technically, this isn't a Christmas album. OK, so it isn't by the wildest stretch of the imagination a Christmas album. Still, I always play it at Christmas, so for me, it's a Christmas album. This definitely falls into the category of "if you are the sort of person that likes that sort of thing, then it's exactly the sort of thing you will like." So if pigs singing Gregorian chant in pig latin sounds like your sort of thing . . .
1999: A Swinging Big Band Christmas. My grandmother gave this to me to expand my musical appreciation. I'm still grateful for the expansion.
2001: Dr. Demento Presents the Greatest Christmas Novelty CD of All Time. Back when we used to do the Great Epic Cookie Bake every year, we used to always listen to a Christmas variety record that dated back to the childhood of my mother and weird aunt. However, it was getting very old and scratchy, so my weird aunt went on a quest to recreate it. Nobody had issued the same album intact as a CD, so she had to hunt up a variety of CDs. Some of them were easy to find, like Dean Martin. Others . . . not so much. This album contributed that Scandihoovian classic, "I Yust Go Nuts at Christmas" and forever changed the landscape of our future holidays with "I Want a Hippopotamus For Christmas" and "Christmas at Ground Zero." It also contributed a few numbers that deserved to be buried in oblivion, which is why I have an abridged copy on my computer.
2002: Christmas Cocktails. This is part of that same quest, being the only album anywhere that had the essential "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer Mambo." (The only form in which "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" is tolerable.) A certain song called "I Want You for Christmas" had a bit of private significance to me that year.
2003: White Christmas. We don't have an "Our First Christmas" ornament. That would be too sappy. But this album takes its place.
2009: Holiday Spirits. Yes, it was the "Twelve Days of Christmas" song. But I'm a sucker for men's chorales anyway. This was the last contribution by my weird aunt to my Christmas music memories.
So . . . what's on your Christmas album timeline?