I have always enjoyed Christmas music, especially once I heard John Fahey turn some popular holiday tunes into ragtime guitar pieces. I also remember seeing him in concert create seamless transitions between unrelated songs, and stretch them into nice, long medleys. Sprinkle in a touch of Keith Jarrett improvising complete solo piano concerts and part of my musical foundation was formed.
Sometime in the early 1980s Macy's hired me to stroll around their massive department store in Sunnyvale, California playing instrumental versions of Christmas Carols for the holiday shoppers. The catch was they wanted me there for 5 hours a day, for the 12 days leading up to Christmas. Sixty hours of guitar playing over 12 days is just a bit more than I ask of my students.
This gave me the opportunity to get very familiar with many songs, very quickly, and allowed plenty of time to practice them. My wandering around the store frequently turned into quality improvisation time and gave me a chance to combine songs in lots of different settings.
The next year I managed to buy a 4-track recorder and set about the task of recording some of the pieces I had come to love... and hate.