Gwnewch y pethau bychain

Tis the season

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!

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15 Comments

  1. Folks just seem more decent and nice to one another, and the days seem cheerier, and the world is a brighter and happier place.

    Can I come and live in your world for a month?

    • You know, discussed this last night, after I read your comment. It’s entirely possible that the above is just my own perception, because *I* am in a better mood because of the holiday, and thus interpret others behaviour differently than I might otherwise.

      There really *is* a power to positive thinking.

  2. Oh what fun! Thanks!

    And, of course, I should point out in as many places as possible that whenever anyone visits Ed’s wonderful (no, really, I’m not just saying that) Christmas Carol Music Site (just Carols, not Christmas “Songs” only Carols.) anyway -- if you visit it, we get checks that help us to try to deck our house with boughs of… well… something festive and and maybe even buy presents for the kiddies! (grin).

    Seriously it’s a great site, Ed’s obsessive. 🙂

  3. Thanks for the link to the Christmas Abstract. That was both entertaining and thoughtful. (There are one or two other carols I wish had been covered, but it was pretty comprehensive.)

    • Quite welcome. I first discovered that essay about three years ago, and I reread (and re-link) to it every year, becuase it really is thoughtful and quite nearly comprehensive.

      You might write and suggest that Tris add the carols you felt were overlooked. No idea if its a work-in-progress at this point or not. 🙂

  4. Christmas music… wow thanks for those links. I’ll explore them more.

    I’m mostly going to agree on that list of top ten carols, but I’d have at least a dozen more to add, often obscure (oh, the benefits of loving early music). And then there’s the carols in Latin and French and German and… I have a GREAT BIG book of Christmas carols to enjoy.

    I love carols. When people say they can’t sing, or can’t sing difficutl music I’ll point to carols. Odd intervals and tempo changes galore, but they are cherished in the common memory.

    And I love sickly sentimental Christmas songs too. Some are totally awful, and some are just fun. And some are really lovely, being seasonal music not really specific to Christmas, but perfectly fine thank you.

    The growing of the dark seems to me to be an ancient fear that we’ve successfully beaten back by making the beginning of the return of the light a time of generosity, whether that be material or of the spirit. Everyone needs that once a year. And damn, it’s about the only time you can get away with singing or whistling in public without someone looking strange. Any season that means I get to sing more is good 🙂

    • I hvae about 2 GB of christmas music on my hard drive. I love all aspects of it, even if I have to admit that some of the songs are just terrible. 🙂

      Carols are great fun. I sometimes wish we lived in the sort of neighborhood that had roaming carollers.

      As for singing in public, I’m afraid I just learned to ignore people who look at me strange. 🙂

  5. Linus and Lucy

    There are few songs in the world that can make me smile in the worst of times. Most of them are by the Limeybirds … this is one of the others.

    I suspect I could listen to a three-song rotation of this, Silver Bells (by Johnny Mathis) and The Christmas Song (by Nat King Cole) straight from the day after Thanksgiving until Christmas Eve and never get sick of them.

  6. “Cup of Cheer” makes me think about borrowing some laundry detergent from a neighbor. Yea, P&G and Madison Ave. have thoroughly warped my mind.

    All-Temp-A-Cheer. In power or liquid.

    Or could “cheer” be an obscure reference to alcoholic beverages?

    “Linus and Lucy” is a cool tune. I have a page with the sheet music, which was published in an 1981 issue of Keyboard magazine. I can play the left hand and right hand parts separately, but not together.

    • Cheer is for christmas, and Kindness for new years, after all. (We’ll take a cup of Kindness yet…)

      I always wanted to get a couple of bottles of whisky and put custom labels on themt hat said “Cheer” and “Kindness”.

      I always wanted to learn to play piano just so I could play a few songs. L&L is one of them.

  7. Heh. And here I was searching for the Trans-Siberian Orchestra video, having seen it Sunday night at work. Thanks for the link!

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