Is it too early? If you have to ask, then, yes: It's too early to pull out your stash of Christmas music (It gets bigger every year, doesn't it?) and to start blaring "All I Want for Christmas Is You" at top volume.

But you didn't actually ask, did you? Oh, I give you credit for at least waiting until 12:01 a.m. on Thursday — after all, one minute into Thanksgiving is the official start of the holidays, right? But then I saw you, furtively clicking your way toward one of your holiday music playlists on your iPod. 

That's all right. You showed more restraint than many mid-valley radio stations, which were switching over to an all-holiday format in the middle of November. And it hasn't escaped my notice that my iTunes store always has holiday music available for sale, no matter what it says on the calendar. (Does anyone else out there kill an hour or two by clicking on the 90-second previews of fondly remembered songs but not buying them? I've gone through pretty much the entire ABC catalog in 90-second snippets. This probably is a topic for another column, but I have to say, it doesn't seem like a healthy habit.)

In any event, it's not so much when you start listening to holiday music that matters. What matters is this: Are you listening to the good stuff? Are you listening to the definitive recordings of the classics? 

I'm here to help, but I need your assistance: The time has come again for readers to help me honor two more recordings into the Think Too Much Holiday Song Hall of Fame. 

The purpose of the Hall of Fame is to identify those recordings that are so definitive that no one will ever do a better job. It should be illegal for anyone to make a new recording of those songs. Perform them live in concert if you must (I'm talking to you, Mannheim Steamroller) but don't try to top these Hall of Fame classics with a new recording, or face the prospect of jail time. 

Our standards for Hall of Fame tracks are high: In the years we've been doing this, only a handful of songs has been enshrined. Here's the list: Darlene Love's "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)," Elvis Presley's "Blue Christmas," Nat King Cole's "The Christmas Song," Bing Crosby's "White Christmas" (with honorable mentions going to the covers by Otis Redding and The Platters), Eartha Kitt's "Santa Baby" and The Beach Boys' "Little Saint Nick." Two tracks — Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" and the Crosby-David Bowie duet on "The Little Drummer Boy" — have earned honorary status and will be enshrined in a different wing of the Hall of Fame when it's finally built. (The fundraising campaign to build the Hall of Fame, alas, has hit a snag in that no money has been raised and the campaign is mostly fictional. But our team of crack fundraisers may swing into action as early as next year.)

So the time has come to decide which tracks to add to the hall. I turn again to you: Which performances of holiday standards have served the test of time as definitive? Which songs should performers never be allowed to record again, under penalty of imprisonment?

Let me put the question another way: What holiday songs should not be allowed to appear on the inevitable Fifth Harmony Christmas album? What Christmas song would compel you to change the channel if Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani were about to perform a duet on a very special holiday episode of "The Voice"? When Neil Diamond steps into the studio to record his 46th Christmas album, which songs should be scratched off the list of possibilities? 

Those are the songs that should be enshrined in the Think Too Much Holiday Song Hall of Fame.  

Here's what I want you to do over the next couple of weeks: As you go through your holiday playlist, make a note of the performances that you think are worthy of inclusion in the hall. Then send me your nominations; you can email them to me at mike.mcinally@lee.net or call me at 541-758-9502. Please include not only the name of the song but the performer. A week or so before Christmas, the Hall of Fame committee will gather at a corner table at Squirrel's to consider the nominations. Only two will make the cut. I'll reveal the winners in a very special edition of the column on Dec. 24.

In the meantime, if you have $25 million to donate toward construction of the Hall of Fame, we should talk. (mm)

Mike McInally is the editor of the Democrat-Herald and the Gazette-Times. Contact him at mike.mcinally@lee.net.

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