Thursday, December 17, 2009

"Isn't there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?"

1) A Charlie Brown Christmas. As if I would EVER leave this one off. NO ONE should go through Christmas without seeing this. Every year, it seems the spirit of the season gets more and more lost in the shuffle, and this is always a wonderful reminder of why we celebrate Christmas in the first place. Linus's reading of the Nativity is simple, understated, poignant, and perfect. Originally, everyone working on this special back in 1965 was terribly pessimistic about it, thinking it was too depressing, poorly made, amateurish, and was doomed to failure. It gives me hope for the human race that this actually ended up succeeding far beyond anyone's expectations - and is still shown faithfully on prime time over 40 years later.

2) John Denver and the Muppets: A Christmas Together. Best. Christmas. Album. EVER. Equal parts wackiness and sappiness - and I mean that in the most complimentary way possible. John Denver singing "A Baby Just Like You" will bring you to tears, and his duet with Rowlf on "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" is gorge. Meanwhile, the Muppets definitively skewer "The Twelve Days of Christmas" and rock out to the Beach Boys' "Little St. Nick"...well, as much as the Electric Mayhem can. Animal helps.

2.1) The Carpenters: Christmas Portrait. This one is just a hairsbreadth beneath A Christmas Together. Karen's silky, effortless contralto is one of pop music's greatest treasures, and it was practically made to grace Christmas carols. "Merry Christmas Darling" is, of course, the classic, but the guilty pleasures abide throughout. It also includes some light renditions of dances from The Nutcracker. Combine these two albums, and you're set.

3) Chocolate mousse pie. Hands down, the BEST dessert I have ever eaten. I was lucky enough to get the recipe from my mom a few years ago, and my partner now demands I make it every year. Decadent, rich slices of heaven, served on a cinnamon graham cracker crust and topped with heaps of whipped cream.

4) Creme brulee. Learned how to make this hummer about six years ago. Actually quite simple. Mix four ingredients (egg yolks, cream, sugar, vanilla). Put in ramekins. Put ramekins in a water bath. Bake for x amount of time. Pull out. Let cool, then refrigerate. Top with sugar and torch it. Eat slowly and savor something damn near a mouthgasm.

5) St. Olaf Christmas Festival. I have to see this every year on PBS, having sung in the Christmas festival a total of 12 times myself (4 times for 3 years running). Choral nirvana. Absolutely REQUIRED watching if you are a good Lu-the-ran.

6) Handel's Messiah, the singalong version. Because I lo-ove to sing, and really, the story of the Messiah is fascinating. Extra points for the one I go to in Boulder, since the conductor ends the whole shebang with the Hallelujah chorus sung a second time.

7) Egg nog. Duh.

8) The tree. Yes, the decorations are beautiful, but what really gets me is the smell of a (freshly-cut) pine tree. I dunno. Fresh, cool, natural, and masculine somehow...a killer combination.

9) Mandarin oranges. Nana and Papa from Bakersfield used to send us a whole crate of these every December, and their mandarin oranges were so tangy and juicy, and the peels practically fell off the fruit, they were so easy to peel. The cuties you see in the stores nowadays are a pale, sad imitation of what we used to enjoy years ago.


Curt Rogers said...

Okay, I know I'm a little late but that only because I just discovered you, but my friend and I struggled with this exact question, what is Christmas about. On our long drive home for the holidays we made this little video. THIS is what Christmas SHOULD be about!

Uncle Spike said...

BRILLIANT! Love it. Thanks for sharing it...illin' Christmas, indeed!