I am happy to report that my new laptop communicates nicely with my external hard drive, which means I was able to set up iTunes on the laptop and import all the music I'd previously stored on the external drive. Most of it was already on my ipod, but I had taken the Christmas music off of the ipod last Spring. When my old computer died, I didn't have a way to sync my ipod and bring back the Christmas music. Arrggh!
Happily, I was able to sync the ipod last night and restore the Christmas music. Fa la la la la!