With the Thanksgiving holiday behind us, it’s time to look forward to December. I love this season, no matter whether it is Christmas or Solstice or Hanukkah or something else entirely, or even if it’s just December. Folks just seem more decent and nice to one another, and the days seem cheerier, and the world is a brighter and happier place. So, in that theme, some holiday oriented links to get the season off to a good start:

  • Tris McCall’s Christmas Abstract
    Ok, I know I post this every year, but I just love this entire essay. Tris McCall runs down all the popular Christmas music and offers opinions on them, according to a very specific and idiosyncratic criteria. I don’t agree with everything there, but it’s compelling reading. Some excerpts

    Linus and Lucy

    Speaking of Peanuts, I consider A Charlie Brown Christmas the high point of Western civilization. Okay, I’m kidding. A little. No, really, since Christian theology has been the font for monumental artistic expression from the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel to Of The Heart, Of The Soul, and Of The Cross, it’s possible to see the Peanuts special as a sort of crown — a succinct and poetic articulation of ancient principles. If you can understand why Charlie Brown chooses the tiniest and most unhealthy-looking tree in the lot, you’re at least halfway to the proper spirit in which to approach the Gospels. Incidentally, the famous Linus speech I alluded to in the last entry is Luke 2.8-14, straight from the King James Version. I don’t think that is made clear during the program. CBS certainly knew, and they were shitting bricks that audiences would find the special too preachy. This was 1965; in 2003, a project like this one doesn’t even get out of the gate. Thank God it’s been grandfathered in as an annual event — by now it’s too much of an institution for the seculars to gripe about St. Schulz, and really, how much Heatmiser can a person take?

    Have A Holly Jolly Christmas

    God, what a retarded song. What the hell is a “cup of cheer”? It must have taken the composers all of three minutes to put together this lyric. Here are the rhymes, or what passes for them: year/cheer, street/meet, see/me, hear/year. It is a damning critique of our culture that it makes songs like this inescapable for a full twelfth of our lives. Anybody who thinks there’s any ground for substituting “Holly Jolly Christmas” for “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” — on progressive grounds or otherwise — deserves to have to listen to records like this. “Have a holly jolly Christmas/ and in case you didn’t hear,” it wraps up, before it repeats the title as if there are only five words in the whole world. I heard.

    I love Christmas music, so a huge long catalog of the best and worst of the genre is always worth revisiting.

  • Speaking of revisiting, if you’ve ever wondered how some of those Christmas classics came to be written, here’s a wonderful article that goes into just that history. Definitely fun reading.
  • Atlanta’s free altweekly newspaper, Creative Loafing, has a great article this week on Seventeen ways you can make a difference, even if you’re broke. The specific contact info for various volunteer organizations tends to be Atlanta-specific, as is to be expected, but the ideas given here are universal. If you find you have a little spare time or energy this holiday season, see if you can’t find some inspiration here to go and make a difference in someone’s life.
  • Finally, just for enjoyment, absolutely the coolest home holiday lights display I’ve ever seen. Thanks to danea for pointing me towards it.

    I hope everyone has an utterly fantastic holiday season!