Christmas: the waiting is over

The Dream Isaiah Saw

The Christmas waiting is over. Now you can open those presents. Grumpy Uncle Harry will be going home soon.

Understand that some folks don’t have any presents. There was a nice story in PostSecret recently. An overworked, injured waitress/mom wrote: “I wish Santa Claus was real, so on Christmas, no child would have to go without, and no parent would have to feel like they failed their child.” The bottom line: some folks sent money to a PayPal account.

“Santa Claus is real, and alive and well,” she wrote. “I’m overwhelmed by the love and generosity strangers have shown my family today… I’ve got what I need, so please remove my PayPal account from PostSecret, and I urge anyone who wants to help someone in need to get in touch with their local charities.”

Interestingly, our pastors have shown us in a series of sermons What Can’t Wait, such as repentance. The term, in some traditions, has meant literally turning one’s body in a new direction. Repentance can be rooted in Christian theology, of course. Still, the idea of turning away from things that aren’t working can be a powerful thing. Is that why people come up with New Years’ resolutions at this time of year?

I’m utterly fascinated by the decidedly mixed reaction to the Methodist church’s nativity scene depicts Jesus, Mary, and Joseph as separated and caged family. Like much of good art, it’s designed to make one think.

Music in December

The first three I’ve sung this month.

E’en So, Lord Jesus, Quickly Come by Paul Manz, which we do almost every Advent. My sister Leslie posted this version on Facebook.

The Dream Isaiah Saw, which is rooted in this familiar scripture:

The wolf will live with the lamb,
the leopard will lie down with the goat,
the calf and the lion and the yearling together;
and a little child will lead them.

The cow will feed with the bear,
their young will lie down together,
and the lion will eat straw like the ox.

The infant will play near the cobra’s den,
and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest.

They will neither harm nor destroy
on all my holy mountain,
for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea.

Gloria – John Rutter.

I didn’t sing Handel this year, but I have a half dozen times in the past: Handel Messiah (Christmas Portion) – Robert Shaw and Atlanta Symphony Orchestra & Chorus.

Holiday places, Xmas faces

Santa Claus dons his beachwear

Santa Claus.IN
Back in 2017, The Census Bureau put out this list of holiday places:

“Some names of places associated with the holiday season consist of a dozen places named Holly, including Mount Holly, N.C. (population 14,495), and Holly Springs, Miss. (7,682).

“There is Snowflake, Ariz. (5,764); Santa Claus, Ind. (2,463); North Pole, Alaska (2,232); Noel, Mo. (1,816); and — if you know about reindeer — Dasher, Ga. (979), and Rudolph, Wis. (430). There is also Unity, Ore. (68).”

What, no Bethlehem, PA (population 75,707 in 2017)?

Traveller.com in Australia

It recommended over a dozen holiday places, including:

New York City, NY

“Surely you know what Christmas in the Big Apple looks like, thanks to countless movies: Christmas lights, cheesy muzak, preferably a light dusting of snow.

“The world’s tallest Christmas tree is lit at the Rockefeller Center in early December. Ice skating below it is a must for wintertime visitors, as is checking out the window displays in New York’s largest department stores. Finish with a New York Ballet performance of ‘The Nutcracker’ for a Christmas straight out of central casting.

San Juan, PR

“A small island with a big personality, Puerto Rico serves up a sunny Christmas with a salsa beat and a side dish of spit-roasted pig. Festivities last from early December to Three Kings Day on 6 January. From mid-December churches conduct dawn masses rich with Christmas carols, while exuberant roving groups of carolers travel from house to house and make merry.

“The big feast is held on Christmas Eve, followed by Midnight Mass. For season-setting decorations, head to City Hall on the Plaza de Armas and the fairy-lit promenade Paseo de la Princesa.”

CNN

The network updated this list of holiday places in September 2019. It ALSO suggested New York City.

Honolulu, HI

“Santa Claus dons his beach wear for the Christmas celebrations in Hawaii. What the Aloha State lacks in snow it more than makes up for in festive vibes of peace and goodwill.

“The celebrations center around Honolulu City Lights, a monthlong Christmas display with an opening parade, live music, and a 15-meter Christmas tree…

“At 6 meters tall (almost 20 feet) Shaka Santa — Mr. Claus dressed down in red shorts and open shirt — takes pride of place downtown, seated next to his mu’umu’u-wearing wife, Tutu Mele.”

Quebec City, QC

“A haven for environmentally friendly, outdoor enthusiasts, Quebec bustles with winter activity, offering holiday programs for all tastes.

“Old Quebec is turned into a picturesque Christmas village. Sausage and roast chestnut lovers can browse the wares at the German Christmas market. The more religiously inclined can wander an exposition of nativity scenes from around the world…
“And when Christmas is over, there’s Quebec Winter Carnival from February 7 to 16, 2020.”

Santa Claus, IN

“Christmas is a year-round occasion in this town… [It] gets thousands of letters a year from children trying to reach St. Nick himself. A group of volunteers called Santa’s Elves was set up in the mid-1930s to reply to each letter.
“The Land of Lights display is a 1.2-mile drive around the Lake Rudolph Campground & RV Resort.

Xmas places for ABC Wednesday

Advent / Christmas music 2019

I LOVE Thurl’s voice

Christmas House Advent CalendarOK, NOW I’m getting into the Advent season. Music is the linchpin for almost everything. Jaquandor has his Daily Dose of Christmas. Someone else posted The Top 100 Christmas Songs, some of which may be replicated below. I’m OK with that.

Since I finally saw Hamilton this year, I should post Hamildolph!, which is really good at what it does.

I believe these are new tunes:
Snow Falls Softly At Night -MonaLisa Twins
Merry Xmas Everybody – Robbie Williams, featuring Jamie Cullum

The Usual Suspects

Most of these I’ve posted in some prior year.

Getting Ready for Christmas Day – Paul Simon. Interesting that the sermon sampled was delivered in 1941, the same year Paul was born.

2000 Miles – Pretenders

White Christmas – the Drifters. One of my favorite bits of animation, ever.

Jingle Bells – The Fab 4. NOT the Beatles.

Linus And Lucy– Vince Guaraldi Trio. I read a bio about Vince some years back

Christmas All Over Again – Tom Petty. I still miss Petty.

What Christmas Means To Me – Stevie Wonder

The Bells of Christmas – Julie Andrews. There are at least three different versions of this on those old Firestone tire LPs my parents used to buy. One has an unnecessary one-minute instrumental in the middle, and the other has too cheery background singers. This is the best one.

The Coventry Carol – Alison Moyet. From that first A Very Special Christmas album in 1987.
Gabriel’s Message – Sting. Ditto. I had a girlfriend who HATED Sting’s voice.

The Christmas Song – Nat King Cole. My late mom LOVED Nat Cole.
Mary’s Boy Child – Harry Belafonte. My late father incorporated elements of Belafonte in his folk-singing career.

Every valley– Handel’s Messiah, A Soulful Celebration

Santa’s Too Fat For the Hula Hoop – The Pixies Featuring Thurl Ravenscroft. I LOVE Thurl’s voice.

I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas. A truly terrible song. Not as bad as Dominic the Donkey, but still.

More holiday stuff

The 60 Best Christmas Movies To Watch This Holiday Season

The Book of Dreams (Extended Version) – Argos Christmas advert 2019

Movie’s E.T. And Elliott Reunite 40 Years Later In A Commercial Sequel. I feel I should hate this, yet I don’t

fillyjonk’s tree

Mary and Joseph’s Battle Against the State

St Nick’s Day miscellaneous array

The Bob Dylan section

st nick's dayMy annual St. Nick’s Day post. Back on November 7, the Hallmark Channel was showing about eight Christmas-themed TV movies. I’m sure this continues to this day and beyond. This does not bother me whatsoever.

A radio station in Chicago started playing holiday music even earlier than that. As long as I don’t have to actually listen to it, I just don’t care.

Thanksgiving is as late as it can be this year. This encourages retailers to offer pre-Black Friday sales as soon as the Halloween pumpkins are put away. Whatever.

It’s my opinion that people fuss WAY too much about Santa’s sleigh jumping into the turkey’s and jack-o-lantern’s lanes. In fact, I saw a cartoon somewhere depicting that. It just does not rise to an impeachable offense.

But MY seasonal music listening starts TODAY and runs to January 6, which is Three King’s Day or Russian Christmas. Here are a bunch of links, mostly from after last year’s St. Nick’s Day.

The melancholy section

I’ll Be Home for Christmas – Bing Crosby
Winter Snow · Booker T. & The MG’s. It features Isaac Hayes on the piano

The Stan Freberg section

The Night Before Christmas (1955)
Green Christmas (1958)

The Bob Dylan section

Must Be Santa
Little Drummer Boy
Twas The Night Before Christmas

The advertising section

The first ad I came across this season was Argos Christmas – The Book of Dreams (Extended Version). Arthur always has adverts, usually from New Zealand, that tend to irritate me less than American commercials; here are all of them.

More Yule

Et in Terra pax – Vivaldi and Handel. The former, which I’ve sung, is particularly moving to me.

STAR IN THE EAST – The Southern Harmony, from ROSE ENSEMBLE. I stole this from fillyjonk, but the other video in the post was no longer working, alas.

Christmas Eve with Cookie Monster

White Christmas – Julian Neel; Mr. Berlin’s song, more or less Drifters-style

Christmas Wrapping – the Waitresses. I own this song on something called vinyl.

Happy St. Nick’s Day!

Paradox of Christmas: For unto us a child is born

And his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace

Keep Christ in ChristmasIn the sermon for the first Sunday in Advent, one of my pastors hit on something that I could relate to. My takeaway is that there is a paradox of Christmas.

A child is born, yet the Scripture that day was of the adult Jesus anticipating the cross. So Christmas is about the infant AND the Savior.

That message is encapsulated in the Hebrew text from Isaiah, in what is usually called the Old Testament:

Chapter 9, verse 6 reads: For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

A lot of potentiality in that kid.

Merry Christmas.

Unsurprisingly, For Unto Us A Child Is Born from Handel’s Messiah

Sir Colin Davis conducts the London Symphony Orchestra and the Tenebrae choir

A more sprightly take

I’ve listened to the entire Messiah this autumn and was newly enthralled by the piece that reportedly took only three weeks to compose. If you are so inclined, the whole magilla:

Collegium 1704, director Vaclav Lucs

London Philharmonic