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What makes a Christmas song . . . a Christmas song? Lindsay Zoladz, who writes the Amplifier newsletter, defined a true Christmas jingle as any song she would not want to hear any month other than December. Here, she recommended two songs worth listening to that capture the true Christmas spirit — without mentions of sleigh bells and reindeer. This excerpt has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.

Lindsey Buckingham: “Holiday Road”

This delightful ditty was written for the 1983 film “National Lampoon’s Vacation” — not “Christmas Vacation.” But thanks to some version of the Mandela Effect, plus the fact that the word “holiday” is right there in the title, some confused people have started to insist that “Holiday Road” is a Christmas song. The country singer Chris Janson is vocal among them; he performed his cover of Lindsey Buckingham’s track on last year’s “Opry Country Christmas” broadcast.

The 1975: “Wintering”

Here’s a curiously season-specific track on the 1975’s excellent 2022 album “Being Funny in a Foreign Language.” I often appreciate the details in Matty Healy’s writing, and there are some particularly vivid ones here: a precocious, vegan sister; a fleece that doesn’t warm as well as advertised; a mother with a sore back. “I just came for the stuffing, not to argue about nothing,” Healy sings.

The Amplifier is a twice weekly newsletter that helps you discover songs you’ll love. Subscribe at nytimes.com/newsletters.

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2023-12-11T08:00:00.0000000Z

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