Saturday, December 20, 2008

Comforting Joy

Recently your Redheads whiled away a perfectly good afternoon, in which they should have been hard at work, watching A Charlie Brown Christmas and the original (and still the best) How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Aided by the sudden rush of holiday nostalgia, and perhaps a cookie or five we decided to share some of our holiday essentials with you. As a special holiday treat just for you we've added our very first musical sound byte to the site right at the very end of this post so read on....

To Watch: Last weekend in an attempt to expand my holiday horizons I attempted to watch several made for TV holiday movies featured on certain cable networks’ as part of their All Holiday All the Time programming. Never have I seen so many movies featuring so many plucky blondes named Holly, adorable sad eyed children, and childlike yet compellingly attractive men named Nick. In one there was even a mid-air helicopter VS. reindeer chase through the skies of Mid-town Manhattan. Where IS homeland security when you need them? All of which lead me to the conclusion that my holiday horizons are just fine thank you very much, and I’ll stick with my old favorites such as…

Christmas In Connecticut Before there was a Martha Stewart there was Barbara Stanwyck’s Elizabeth Lane faking her way to the top of the homemaking heap. Funny, smart, romantic, and a great way to spend a snowbound evening.

Holiday Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant directed by George Cukor, on of my favorite movies ever. Though not technically a “Holiday” movie despite the title, a lot of the action takes place on New Years Eve so I’m counting it.

A Christmas Story A love story between a boy and his BB gun. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen it, but it still makes me howl with laughter.

To Read: There comes a time each and every December when it all gets to be too too, Too many people reminding me that they had everything done by August, too many Christmas letters listing too many accomplishments for any one human being to actually have acquired over the course of one year, too many cars with Christmas wreaths on their grill attempting to run me over in the merriest way possible. When that moment arrives I turn to David Sedaris’ Santaland Diaries and Christopher Moore’s The Stupidest Angel. Nothing says peace on earth and good will to men quite like disgruntled elves and Brain eating zombie Santa Clauses.

For the sheer pleasure of reading beautiful writing there are Truman Capote’s short stories The Thanksgiving Visitor, A Christmas Memory and One Christmas.

Finally, because in my house we’re all overgrown children there are the picture books. Every year we read Amhal & the Night Visitors, Chanukah in Chelm, and Cajun Night Before Christmas.

To Hear: Every year it seems they roll out the holiday tunes earlier and earlier so that by the first of December if I hear one more version of The Christmas Song I’ll run screaming into oncoming traffic. So this year I spent some time trying to find some new favorites that you won’t be hearing over and over and over again on the department store muzak tracks.

Northern Lights is a brand spanking new album from one of my very favorite songwriters Gretchen Peters that contain several new songs alongside some interesting arrangements of more traditional pieces. A wonderful recording!

I just rediscovered a CD that my friend DC Anderson released a few years ago called All is Calm, All is Bright. In addition to being a fine singer, and having a great knack for discovering tunes off the beaten track he writes great songs! There’s not much on here that you will have heard before which is what makes it one of my favorites. It may even surprise you to see who wrote some of the material that DC didn’t. Did you know Stephen Sondheim wrote at least two Christmas songs? Do you know what they were? If you can tell me, I’ll send you a little stocking stuffer.

It’s traditional, you probably will find at least one of its tracks on the mall muzak, but I can’t help myself. I have a definite soft spot for Christmas With the Rat Pack. How can you go wrong with Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Junior and Dean Martin?

Finally, a little gifty written and performed by my friend Rick Jensen called You’d Better Say Yes. This is our debut podcast on Two Well Read debut so give it a listen

Have a wonderful holiday and a joyous New Year.

Wendy Lane