I always puzzle over how “The Sound of Music,” a movie that has more to do with Nazis than either Christ or Santa, became a Christmas staple. It offends the part of me that seeks a life of logic. But that part of me is puny compared to the sentimental part of me that every year enjoys watching “The Sound of Music” at Christmas.
So these are a few of my favorite Christmas things …
• Stringing tree popcorn while watching “Polar Express.” It’s odd how some things become quirky family traditions. I don’t even remember how this one started. I’m not even a huge “Polar Express” fan, finding the animation creepy and knowing the entire holiday vibe will be detonated when the animated Steven Tyler shows up riding his unicycle. Heck, I don’t even like stringing popcorn. It combines both tediousness and self-inflicted pain. Yet every year I look forward to sitting with the girls and watching one of my least favorite movies while doing something I find boring and painful. Ah, the power of family tradition.
• I enjoy the Christmas pop-in. I made an afternoon run yesterday of stopping to see friends at work during times when they’d usually resent my unscheduled appearance. I never stay long, but I think delivering what is essentially a living greeting card is welcomed.
• Hearing The Kinks play “Father Christmas” is one of my favorite Christmas things. It’s just perfectly subversive. It’s about rough children who threaten to beat up Santa if he brings them toys instead of dough. And, man, the song really rocks. Apparently, it’s too contrary to the seasonal sweetness for radio programmers. I never hear it even on satellite radio. Doesn’t matter. I’ll play it 20 times between now and Sunday.
• I love listening to old-time radio shows on satellite radio. Val and I both relish long drives without the kids this time of year so we can hear old Christmas stories told from the golden age of radio. My favorites? “Gunsmoke,” “Dragnet,” and “Suspense.” I’ll sit in the driveway for 15 minutes hearing Sgt. Friday solve the crime of who stole the statue of the Baby Jesus from the missionary altar.
• It wouldn’t be Christmas without a visit to Crabtree, the tiny village with two fantastic Italian restaurants (Rizzo’s and Carbone’s) and an award-winning butcher shop. Rizzo’s is maybe my favorite restaurant in the world. Nothing fancy. Just good. A great place to take the family. This year we stopped at Bardine’s Country Smokehouse to snag our Christmas ham before dinner.
• I like playing Santa with my “Crayons!” book. I make mental notes of people I’ve met throughout the year who’ve either been extra kind or shared some personal hardship with me. Then I take them each signed copies of my book. The cheerful little book has over the years made so many people happy and that makes me very happy.
• Watching old Christmas episodes of our favorite TV shows makes me happy. “Cheers,” “All in the Family,” “The Andy Griffith Show,” “Bob Newhart,” all have great ones. Same goes for old Christmas movies. We love “We’re No Angels,” “The Waltons: Homecoming,” and watching “It’s a Wonderful Life!” is as meaningful as anything I’ll hear in church.
• One of my favorite things about Christmas is how the entire world seems to for even one week awaken to my leisurely priorities. Work becomes less important than cheerful conversation.
Yes, raindrops on roses! Whiskers on kittens! Bright copper kettles! Warm woolen mittens!
These are a few of my favorite things.
Just one more ... and I’m saving the best for last:
Thank God, it’s almost over!