Holiday Favorites Through the Decades

Do you have holiday memories of favorite stories, songs, television shows and movies beginning with your own childhood through today?

December and the holiday season has always been my favorite time of year. I’ve always loved to read and believe that my mother instilled that love in me by reading bed time stories to me night after night. In December, I was always excited when it was time to pull The Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore from my little bookcase. As I got older, I’d read aloud along with Mom and, eventually, I could recite most of the poem by heart.

A classic which I grew to really appreciate is A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. I taught 7th grade language arts for many years and this story, published in play form, was in our literature book. Scrooge and Marley have had a lasting impact on our culture. Everyone knows what it means to be a Scrooge. Last year, I had the opportunity to visit the Dickens Museum in London. I felt like Charles was about to walk in and greet us, as his former home is decorated in Victorian style.

As my son was growing up, I became acquainted with Chris Van Allsburg’s work and The Polar Express became a family favorite. Michael loved getting the book out, as our version also came with the little bell to ring.

It’s hard to pick only a few favorite holiday songs. My favorite of all time is The Little Drummer Boy by the Harry Simeone Chorale. Growing up, Up on the Housetop by Gene Autry, Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, both by Burl Ives and White Christmas by Bing Crosby were enjoyed every time I heard them on the radio. I also came to like the Bing Crosby-David Bowie duet, Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy, televised in 1977 and recorded shortly before Bing died.

Over the years, my favorites list has expanded some to include Santa Baby by Eartha Kitt, The First Noel by Andy Williams and Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow by Dean Martin. If you haven’t already figured it out, my taste runs to pretty traditional music.

There weren’t many Christmas television shows that I remember watching when I was young. Most of the ones that are considered classics today – like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and A Charles Brown Christmas – first aired when I was a teen and they definitely weren’t cool at that age! I can’t say even today that there are any TV Christmas episodes that I would include on this list.

Movies are entirely different. Again, my taste runs very traditional with Miracle on 34th Street being #1 on my Christmas list. The entire cast was terrific and no one else has played Santa quite as well as Edmund Gwenn. It’s a Wonderful Life with Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed is probably second on my list. Another fabulous cast and story. The 1951 version of A Christmas Carol is one that I watch every year to this day. Holiday Inn and White Christmas, both Bing Crosby movies, round out my favorite list.

Well, it is Christmas Eve so it’s time to sit down and watch A Christmas Carol. Tomorrow will be a busy day with family.

Have a very Merry Christmas!



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