Whiskers on Kitten-Terrorists
A Christmas gift from Germany arrived early for my co-blogger on the soccer blog in the form of an Inter Milan loss to Werder Bremen today. He will probably remember this season for a long time, as his club, Tottenham Hotspur, have had an eventful European campaign and have emerged as the unlikely winners of their UEFA Champions' League group over Inter, the current European champions. For me, well, I always like to see Italians lose, but I have had had too many memorable Christmases for that to make this a standout year (also, Tottenham aren't my club). And that's not why I am writing this post. Rather, I want to write about some of my holiday favorites that really make the season, "the season."
"Favorite Things" Isn't Really a Christmas Song
We're programmed to respond to sound with memories, so nostalgia is only natural with holiday classics. However, some of them are just fun. These are a few of my favorites:
- Linus & Lucy, Vince Guaraldi Trio - It's just delightful and, of course, reminds one of Snoopy and the Peanuts Christmas specials.
- 'Zat You Santa Claus?, Louis Armstrong - Louis Armstrong is a holiday must, but this one is just so lively and fun that I can't help dancing (or bobbing) along.
- Hanukkah Song Part II, Adam Sandler - "OJ Simpson, still not a Jew." Enough said.
- Marshmallow World, Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra - Christmas with the Rat Pack is an essential album for me, but I wasn't familiar with this one until Mary played it. Now, we dance to it compulsively every time it comes on. Also, both artists are completely smashed in the recording that I have and it's just entertaining to listen to them.
- Cool Yule, Bette Midler - Louis Armstrong has a good version too, but the free-hearted fun of Bette Midler (a Jew) really comes through on this one.
- How Do You Spell (C)hanukkah? The LeeVees - Not a classic, but this song is a blast and a good piece of Jewish self-depreciative humor. It sounds a lot like the Barenaked Ladies (also Jewish).
- Carol of the Bells, Mormon Tabernacle Choir - Mormons really know how to make this one impressive. Truth be told, I have four versions of this on my list, including Celtic Women which is also good.
- Nutcracker - Act II: Waltz of the Flowers, David Zinman & the New York City Ballet Orchestra - Okay, I love all of the Nutcracker and try to make a performance every holiday season, although this year, it is not to be. Nevertheless, I love this one and would make Mary dance with me to it, if, you know, I knew how to waltz.
- Baby, It's Cold Outside, Everyone and Their Brother - Everyone has done a rendition of this song. My current favorite is the latest I have downloaded, by the Glee Cast, but you can get a version by Zooey Deschanel, if you're into indie rock goddesses.
- Fairy Tale of New York, Amy MacDonald - Brendan tells me that this is a Pogues tune and the male part is certainly sung by the lead singer of the Pogues. It is a new addition to my list, but an instant favorite.
- Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Dean Martin - The classic is by Gene Autry, but Dino's rendition is great, with Dean Martin eventually growing familiar with the animal, calling him "Rudy, the Red-Beaked Reindeer."
There are also a variety of activities that really get me in the mood. These are fewer to be honest.
- Skiing/snowboarding - This is one I associate with New Years. There have been a number of times that I have arrived either on or after Christmas, so that I really more associate the physical exhaustion of snowboarding with trying to stay up for New Years.
- Decorating the Tree - Not mine. Having gone to Switzerland for so many years, I had gotten used to not having a tree. But decorating the tree with Kate's family is a trip. Mary lays out all the ornaments on the table, grouped by type, which is essential to her adorable brand of crazy. Her brother is antsy and wants to just hang the ornaments, but after putting 1 or two out, relaxes on the couches nearby. Kate's mother is generally a little drunk (so is everyone else) and not in the mood. Actually, that's a lie, she is in the mood, but is overwhelmed by the volume of decorating and is wonderfully cynical about the whole affair and rounds off the whole delightful experience.
- The Nutcracker - As I noted, I'm not going to a performance this year. It's not the first time I have gone a season without tickets, but fortunately, I have a Barishnikov performance on DVD. The Nutcracker doll is a little creepy-looking, as is the ballerina playing Clara, but the ballet is excellent.
- Other Christmas Specials - I always forget how short Christmas specials are without commercials. I have them on DVD as well and watch them at my leisure. Mary would watch Muppets Christmas Carol in August if I let her.
This is a longer post than I intended and I haven't even added the pictures yet. But Mary is home from watching the Glee! Christmas episode with James, so I am going to spend the rest of the evening with her. I hope you have all your shopping done; holiday traffic and shopping crowds do not list among my favorite things.