Tag Archives: Christmas

Top Ten Tuesday: Under the Tree


With only a few days left until Shortcake’s first Christmas, it’s time for the Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by the Broke and the Bookish).  This week’s topic asks us what book-ish items we’d like to find under the tree.  I’m breaking this down into a couple of books I’d like and some items I’d like to read and share with Shortcake.

  1.  The Fifty Year Mission, Volumes 1 and 2.  The oral history of Star Trek from the original series to the Kelvin films covers over 1,o00 pages and I’d love to have hardback copies on my shelf.
  2. These Are the Voyages, Volumes 1, 2 and 3.  The Fifty Year Mission gives a great overview of the original series.  These books take a look at the series episode by episode.
  3.  Illustrated Harry Potter books.  When it’s the appropriate time, I hope that Shortcake will like Harry Potter.  I think these would be fun to read to her.
  4. Green Eggs and Ham and Other Servings of Dr. Seuss.  I love reading to Shortcake but some of the good Seuss’s books are a bit of a challenge.  This two-disc CD has some of the more tongue-twisting stories on it read by professional thespians.  We checked this one out from the library and listened while riding in the car.  She seemed to enjoy it.
  5. The Golden Book versions of the Star Wars saga.  These look like a lot of fun to read with Shortcake.
  6. The Little Blue Truck.  I love reading this board book to Shortcake.  Part of it could be that it encourages the reader to make silly sounds while reading it.
  7. Corduroy.  We checked this out of the library and enjoyed it.  I’d love for Shortcake to have her own copy.
  8. DC Super Heroes Board Books.  There are several books in this series that look like a lot of fun to read with Shortcake.


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The Angel Gabriel From Heaven Came (On Handbells and With Lights)

This video combines two things I love — the piece our handbell choir played this year for Christmas and houses with lights synchronized to music.

This year’s piece was The Angel Gabriel From Heaven Came.  And while the musical accompaniment to this light show isn’t ours ,it gives you an idea of what the piece sounds like.

I will also note it’s been stuck in my head for the past couple of days while I’ve been swimming laps in the pool.


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A Few of My Favorite Christmas Things: Lessons & Carols


This morning, I participated in one of my favorite Christmas traditions –the annual service of Lessons and Carols at my church.

The service is a proclaiming of the true meaning of Christmas in word and song.   I’ve been blessed to be part of the handbell choir for close to a decade now, playing the lower octave bells.

It’s always a wonderful service, always reminding me why and what we are celebrating during the Christmas season.   In many ways, it doesn’t feel like it’s Christmas until I’ve been to Lessons and Carols.

And as our family grows in the next year, I’m looking forward to sharing the experience with our daughter.

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A Few of My Favorite Christmas Things: The Best Christmas Pageant Ever


I think I first encountered Barbara Robinson’s The Best Christmas Pageant Ever when a teacher read it to our class. I’m not sure exactly which grade I was in when this happened, but I do remember I found the story of the Herdman clan invading the annual Christmas pageant a lot of fun.

I think I checked this book out of the library at least a hundred times growing up.   Of course, it got very popular during the Christmas season, so I’d get in my seasonal reading of the book in early to late November each year.

The Herdman family comes from the wrong side of the town.  They’re dirty, rude and have a terrible reputation.  Somehow the Herdman family catches wind of the annual Christmas pageant and shows up for tryouts, bullying their way into some of the prime roles in the play.  As rehearsals unfold, the Herdman family proves to be disruptive, leading up to a funny performance. Continue reading

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A Few of My Favorite Christmas Things: Mickey’s Christmas Carol


Each evening at the dinner table, my parents would ask my sister and I what we’d done that day at school.   Most of the times, I tended to not really address the central question in any great detail.  But for some reason when I learned about verb tenses, I shared this information with my family with some enthusiasm.

A couple of days later, my dad told me about this great story that could help keep the concepts of the past, the present and the future straight for me.  He said it was called A Christmas Carol and that a recorded version had come out.  He said it starred Disney characters and it featured Scrooge McDuck as Ebeneezer Scrooge.

He related some of the story, whetting my appetite to hear the entire story.  And so it was that I was given the LP version of Mickey’s Christmas Carol.   I believe the record was issued released before the animated version hit theaters and then home video.

The record features the story of A Christmas Carol along with a few songs along the way.  I have to admit these songs were kind of catchy and I could hum them for days after I’d listened to the record. Continue reading

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A Few of My Favorite Christmas Things: A Charlie Brown Christmas


A Charlie Brown Christmas aired as part of the Christmas season for the fiftieth time last night.

It seems like a lot of the things I enjoy are celebrating milestone anniversaries these days.   But there aren’t many that I’ve watched longer than A Charlie Brown Christmas.*

*I suspect I’m not alone in this.

Growing up, it seemed like the special aired a bit closer to Christmas than it does now.  This created a bit of an issue when my family was stationed in Hawaii for four years.  This was in the days before satellite television and so television programs were generally shown in our fiftieth state a week behind their transmission date in the continental United States. ** This sometimes meant that certain Christmas specials would air the week after Christmas.  This was also the days when VCRs were a bit luxury item and we’d often say that if we had one, it would be worth it to record all the Christmas specials one year and then watch then the next year leading up Christmas instead of after it

** Of course, we could also go to the beach on Christmas day.  It’s all a trade-off! Continue reading

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Review: A Christmas Carol Written by Charles Dickens, Performed by Tom Baker

A Christmas Carol

Along with trimming the tree, making cookies and enjoying the lights, there are certain traditions that I look forward to each Christmas. One of them is enjoying stories of the season in various forms of pop culture media — movies, television shows (if the second season episode of Happy Days where Fonzie comes over to the Cunningham’s for Christmas dinner doesn’t make your heart grow three sizes with Christmas spirit, I don’t know what will) and literary ones.

One of the familiar stories that makes its way into my rotation every few years is Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. I’ll still admit I’ve got a soft spot for the Disney records adaptation that my parents gave me years ago on vinyl with Scrooge McDuck as Scrooge and a lot of catchy songs that will get stuck in your head for days, but I still enjoy visiting the story of Scrooge and the spirits in the original Dickens. I’ve listened to a couple of audio versions of the story, performed by various actors from Patrick Stewart to Tim Curry, but this year’s visit was performed by the man best known for his role as the fourth Doctor, Tom Baker.

I’ll admit I’ve got a certain fondness for Mr. Baker, so it’s hard to set aside that bias here. But his performance of this classic story is among the more satisfying and enjoyable I’ve heard. And given that I’m not generally a huge fan of his readings of classic Doctor Who Target novels, that really surprised me. Baker is restrained at times and completely over the top at times, but it all works. He brings an infectious joy to the transformed Scrooge that works so well that he cast aside memories of the previous audio version I’d listened to with Tim Curry. (He won’t necessarily make you forget Patrick Stewart, but then again few actors will make you forget Patrick Stewart).

As always, when it comes to re-reading a familiar story, I’m struck by the nuances that are included in Dickens’ original telling and those that don’t generally make it into the pop culture adaptations. One thing that struck me this time is that the ghost of Christmas past takes Scrooge back to his childhood and establishes a bit more of his relationship with his sister and tells us her fate. It’s helps to establish one more reason that Scrooge becomes as hard-hearted as he is when we meet him in this story. I also find it intriguing to see what his nephew’s wife thinks of Scrooge during the ghost of Christmas present segment. Too often, I think adaptations in pop culture emphasize the Cratchett family and Tiny Tim and overlook some of the other connections that Scrooge has.

It’s one good reason to be a literary snob and pick up the original source material every once in a while — whether on the printed page or as an audio book. And this audio book is one of the more engaging and spirited (pun fully intended) versions I’ve experienced and one that I highly recommend if you’re looking for a good way to enjoy a classic and get into the holiday spirit.

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