Folk singer-songwriter Catherine MacLellan has fond memories of celebrating Christmas with her family while growing up on Prince Edward Island.
“I always loved Christmas. As a kid, there were presents and that kind of stuff, but for me it was about gathering in kitchens and sharing snacks and cookies, that you’d only get that time of year and singing songs around the piano,” said MacLellan.
MacLellan hopes to bring that cozy feeling to the Charlotte Street Arts Centre on Dec. 16 as part of her holiday show, Catherine MacLellan Christmas, which is currently touring the Maritimes.
The venue lends itself to an intimate performance by MacLellan, who will be joined onstage by guitarist Nick Gauthier and special guest and long-time childhood friend Tanya Davis.
“We were next door neighbours when we were 10 and her family always had this amazing Christmas party. All the classic songs and the hymns and just really doing up Christmas — it was always really fun,” said MacLellan.
She said that sharing Christmas with Davis and her family has always been an important part of the festive season.
Speaking from her home on P.E.I., MacLellan said one of her favourite traditions during the holidays is decorating the tree and reminiscing about the ornaments she’s collected over the years.
She jokes that she would usually put up the tree on a weekend, but this year all her weekends are booked with shows.
“I’ll have to find a Tuesday,” said MacLellan.
MacLellan admits that she is a big fan of jazzy Christmas standards; songs like Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” and Judy Garland’s “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” the latter of which she says is her favourite Christmas song — at least this year.
Garland’s rendition of the song in an emotional scene from the 1944 film Meet Me in St. Louis is one of the reasons she says it is her choice song this season.
“There’s something about that deep sadness that comes with Christmas; that really sentimental kind of feeling.”
Alongside the standards, MacLellan said audiences at “Catherine MacLellan Christmas” can also expect to hear some original Christmas and other Winter-themed songs, such as “Calling You Home (for the Holidays),” which appeared on her EP titled Holiday in 2021.
If MacLellan had to summarize her feelings of Christmas into one word, she said it would definitely be “cozy.”
She speaks warmly of the winter months that make way for the lighting of candles and the wearing of scarves and mittens during the shortest, darkest days of the year.
“The holiday season can be really bustling, but after that it all settles down and becomes this really quiet time that we can hopefully find some time to spend with our friends and family and go inside a little bit instead of always being out in the world,” said MacLellan.
After the presents are gifted and the tinsel’s packed away, that quiet time also becomes an opportunity to reflect on the year ahead and MacLellan said her goals for the new year focus on finding more ways to connect with people.
“It’s been a quiet and insular few years, so being back out into the world feels really good,” she said.