Christmas has come but not yet gone. It tends to linger with me for a couple of days after the event.

I begin listening —almost exclusively— to Christmas music on my drive back home after Thanksgiving with my parents and in-laws. Each year I purchase a new Christmas album, which is often a risky move. Last year I busted totally with Celtic Thunder Christmas.

I know, I know. You’re wondering, “How could something called Celtic Thunder Christmas be bad?” I’m sure that’s your question. Well, it’s essentially an Up with People Christmas on a vat of testosterone. You can tell they are singing through beefy bearded smiles.

Perhaps the most telling moment was the bizarrely saccharine yet maudlin “Christmas 1915,” which really could be a good song despite the line —sung sweetly and tenderly— “…and I killed the boy that sang in no man’s land.” Nice. Merry Christmas, everyone!

I’m pretty sure that the entirety of Celtic Thunder sings on this song, like some steroidal over-duplicated Three Tenors, each one overreaching the drama of the previous soloist. Oy ve!

But this year I purchased Colbie Caillat’s Christmas in the Sand. It was a nice album. Not anything that created that numinous floating that makes for a transcendent Christmas song, but there was nothing aesthetically offensive, which is really the only mark of a pleasant Christmas album these days, isn’t it?

My favorite Christmas album purchase of the last few years —and for this I give full credit to my wife— is the Pink Martini album, Joy to the World. It is, holistically, a good album. Some songs, like “Little Drummer Boy” and “Schedryk” really do send me into that numinous hypnotic nostalgia that I love about good Christmas music. I know the idea of “Little Drummer Boy” being transcendent is probably difficult to grasp. I honestly think that song is one of the least appealing of the vast Christmas canon. However, Pink Martini turns it into some hooka-smoke Moroccan jazzy thing á la “Scheherazade.”

They have two other songs that I quite like, one, “Congratulations (Happy New Year)” in Chinese, the other “Ocho Kandelikas” which is, I think, a Portuguese Chanukah song. Go figure. But awesome.

I guess music, although not the root of my Christmas aesthetic, is certainly the trunk. And while watching my boys’ joy and wonder are the greatest moments of the holiday, it’s music that presses the button on those memories.