(I say "First Annual" like there's an actual chance of a "Second Annual," but, really, I don't see my opinions changing on any of these. But here goes.)
BEST TRADITIONAL CAROL - "YES, I USED TO BE CATHOLIC" DIVISION: O Come, All Ye Faithful. Except, when it comes out of my mouth, it's Adeste Fidelis. Even if we're standing in the middle of First United Methodist, and hundreds of people around me are singing the English version in perfect unison, I have been known to sing it in Latin. It just sounds better that way.
Old habits die hard.
BEST TRADITIONAL CAROL - "YES, I AM AN AUSTRIAN-AMERICAN WITH NINE YEARS OF GERMAN INSTRUCTION UNDER HER BELT" DIVISION: Tie between O Tannenbaum and Stille Nacht - I mean, O Christmas Tree and Silent Night. More songs that I sing in a foreign language, to the chagrin of my older child. "It's just weird, Mom." You think that's weird? In college, during midterms and finals, my sorority sisters knew that I was some combination of sleep-deprived and overcaffeinated when I started listening to show tunes while I studied. They knew that I had reached a new level of sleep-deprivation and overcaffeination when choreography was involved - and they knew that I was AMPS ON ELEVEN WHEN I STARTED SPONTANEOUSLY TRANSLATING SHOW TUNES INTO GERMAN. Ditto the greatest hits of the Eighties: "Es Macht Spass UPSILON-EMM-TSEH-AH Zu Bleiben!" Stumped? Here's a hint: the literal German translation of "Village People" is Dorf Volk. True story. More hints: upsilon is Y in German, and emm is the phonetic pronunciation of M. Now you've got it, right?
One of these days, I'm taking my immediate family back to Austria at Christmastime. We'll hit all of the Christkindlmarkts and drink wassail and eat roasted chestnuts, and then we'll attend the traditional reenactment of the first performance of "Silent Night" in the tiny church where it originated. And then we'll go sledding. Yes, I realize that I sound like a Teutonic Buddy the Elf.
BEST TRADITIONAL CHRISTMAS CAROL - "BECAUSE IT MAKES ME THINK FONDLY OF HUGH GRANT" DIVISION: Good King Wenceslas. Because, good, sweet Heaven above, I loves me some "Love Actually."
BEST TRADITIONAL CHRISTMAS CAROL - "BECAUSE IT TAKES ME BACK TO ELEMENTARY SCHOOL" DIVISION: The Friendly Beasts. Because, once upon a time, I was Dove #2. One of the many reasons why I love "Love Actually":
"We've been given our parts in the Nativity play, and I'm the lobster."
"Yeah, first lobster."
"There was more than one lobster present at the birth of Jesus?"
My mother lived that scene, when I was roughly in third grade. But whereas Emma Thompson got to make a papier mache lobster head (which she pronounces all Euro and cool - "pah-pee-AHR MAH-shay"), my mother got to make a dove costume with articulated wings, and a hood, and a polyester fiberfill dove badonkadonk that would make Kim Kardashian feel inadequate in the booty department. If pressed, I could probably do my bit for you today, from pure muscle memory:
"I," said the dove from the rafters high [gesture with left wing]
"I cooed Him to sleep so He would not cry" [gesture with right wing].
BEST TRADITIONAL CHRISTMAS CAROL - "BEST TRADITIONAL CHRISTMAS CAROL, PERIOD" DIVISION: O Come, O Come, Emmanuel. "And ransom captive Israel, That mourns in lonely exile here. Until the Son of God appear." Seriously, they don't write lyrics like that anymore.
MOST DEPRESSING TRADITIONAL CHRISTMAS CAROL: In the Bleak Midwinter. It's all there in the title, isn't it?
MOST "SILENCE OF THE LAMBS-ISH" TRADITIONAL CHRISTMAS CAROL: Hark, the Herald Angels Sing. "Veiled in flesh the Godhead see." It's . . . just . . . the head? With skin sort of loosely draped over it? I'm confused. And a bit creeped out.
MODERN CHRISTMAS SONG THAT MAKES ME WEEP LIKE A BABY: Mary, Did You Know? No, that's the title - I'm not asking a theoretical reader named Mary if she knew what song renders me blubbering and incapacitated.
You thought I was going to say The Christmas Shoes, didn't you?
MOST EMBARASSING SONG FROM MY TWEEN'S PERSPECTIVE - "OH, NO, MOM IS SINGING" DIVISION: I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas. I sing it very enthusiastically. I. Am. Fully. Committed. And the big kid. Is. Mortified.
MOST EMBARRASSING SONG FROM MY TWEEN'S PERSPECTIVE - "OH, NO, MOM IS CAR DANCING" DIVISION: Linus and Lucy by Vince Guaraldi. You know, the "Charlie Brown Christmas Special" song. I cannot help it: when I hear it, I start doing the Peanuts dance. If I'm in a car, I dance from the waist up. Hence, the tween's mortification when we stop at stoplights.
MOST EMBARRASSING SONG FROM MY SPOUSE'S PERSPECTIVE - "OH, NO, MY WIFE THINKS THAT SHE'S KAREN CARPENTER/SERIOUSLY, SHE IS CHANNELING KAREN CARPENTER OVER THERE" DIVISION: Merry Christmas, Darling. Except you have to sing it like this: "Merrrrrrry Christmas, Darrrrrrrrling." All drawn out like you just popped a Valium. And when you sing the line, "Holidays are joyful," it is important to eliminate any traces of joy from your inflection.
GUILTY PLEASURE - "EVEN THOUGH IT'S PRETTY DAMNED DEPRESSING" DIVISION: Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. Specifically, the Pretenders' cover version. Nothing better captures the "is-that-all-there-is?" mood that settles over the house around noon on Christmas Day: "Okay, so all of the gifts are open, and now I have to deal with recycling the packaging, and then I have to choose between finding places to put all of the new stuff (which basically means CLEANING MY HOUSE ON CHRISTMAS DAY) or shoving it artfully back under the tree, except it does not look at all artful, because unwrapped gifts are not NEARLY as aesthetically pleasing as wrapped ones, and I REALLY just want to take a nap because the kids got me up at oh-dark-thirty, but we have a command performance at my parents', and is it really worth going to all of this trouble for a half hour of frenzied package-opening, and yada-yada-yada?"
GUILTY PLEASURE - "YES, I AM A CHILD OF THE EIGHTIES" DIVISION: Christmas Wrapping by The Waitresses.
Hmm - never tried to translate that one into German. Ooh, a challenge.