Christmas Music In July +

It might seem to be a little early to start searching for Christmas music right?  Not necessarily..now is actually one of the best times simply because it’s probably the last thing on the minds of most people.  That makes Christmas music very easy to find in July.  I paid a visit to my local library in the spring and was able to check out and sample every Christmas CD I wasn’t able to find during the 2008 holiday season.   Below are just a few July recommendations to think about adding to your Christmas music collection in 2009. 

20th Century Masters: The Christmas Collection: Jackson 5       

The musical legacy left by Michael Jackson includes this wonderful Christmas collection with the Jackson 5 by 20th Century Masters.  Santa Claus is Coming to Town is a staple on my iPod, but this CD has so many not to be missed songs lead by young Michael that it could become a Christmas favorite in just about any home.  I highly recommend Up On The Housetop and I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus, but each and every song on this 5 star favorite is perfect for the entire holiday season. 

Salute Michael! 

The Best of Stevie Wonder - The Christmas Collection: 20th Century Masters

While watching a Christmas movie this year, a song was featured by Stevie Wonder that I’d never heard called Twinkle Twinkle Little Me and I immediately knew I had to have it.  It’s simply beautiful.  Among the 14 songs on this CD, Someday At Christmas gets regular holiday airplay, but there are so many great songs in this compilation that it has become one of my absolute favorites of all time.  If you enjoy Stevie’s music, I think you’ll agree. 

 A Christmas Carol (Ultimate Collector's Edition)(B/W & Color)

A Christmas Carol is a 2009 film adaptation of Charles Dickens’ 1843 story of the same name. The film is written and directed by Robert Zemekis, and stars Jim Carrey in a multitude of roles, including Ebenezer Scrooge as a young, middle-aged,old man, and the three ghosts who haunt Scrooge.

The film will be produced in 3D through the process similar to The Polar Express called performance capture.  A Christmas Carol will be released on November 6, 2009. 

The new version of A Christmas Carol is surely destined to become an instant classic. 

If you’d like to see a great classic version of this film, check out Christmas Carol (1951) starring Alastair Sim as Ebenezer Scrooge.  I particularly like Kathleen Harrison’s portrayal of Mrs. Dilber, Scrooge’s charlady (housekeeper).  This classic is available in black white and a colorized version.

 Happy Sounds and Reels!

References:

www.amazon.com

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1067106/

White House Holiday 2009

What Christmas Theme Will First Lady Michelle Obama Choose?

For those of us who get excited about the holidays, it’s exciting to think about what the White House Christmas theme will be for 2009.  I actually started wondering last year what theme First Lady Michelle Obama would choose her first year in the White House for the official Blue Room Christmas tree.  Will she choose a whimsical theme?  How about a traditional, musical, global or even a hope theme as an ode to the President’s successful campaign?   Will there be a special theme for First Daughters, Malia and Sasha?  Just imagine a Christmas tree in the White House with hope ornaments designed by artists representing all 50 of the United States.  This could be unifying and magnificent.  

This whole thing started me wondering about how White House holiday themes are chosen and when the process begins.  According to former chief usher, Gary Walters who retired in 2007, “in late winter and early spring, the staff presents numerous ideas to the First Lady and then she decides on a theme as early as late spring to permit time to carry out the theme.”  So much like retailers, decisions are made during the first half of the year about how the  holiday season will shape up at the White House. 

The First White House Christmas Tree Theme

First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy introduced the world to the tradition of Christmas tree themes in the White House in 1961 with a “Nutcracker Suite” theme featuring trimmings derived from the ballet by Tchaikovsky. Ornaments included gingerbread cookies, tiny toys, wrapped packages, candy canes and straw ornaments made by disabled or senior citizen craftsmen throughout the United States.

Past White House Holiday Themes

Past White House themes have included the following:

2008 – A Red White and Blue Christmas

2006 – Crystals and ornaments of iridescent glass for a Deck the Halls and Welcome All Theme

1997 – Santa’s Workshop

1996 – The Nutcracker Suite

1995 – ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas

1994 – The Twelve Days of Christmas

1993 – Angels

Presenting the Blue Room Tree

Some time in October the current White House Chief Usher, Rear Admiral Stephen W. Rochon, will head to the site of a lucky grower to select the 2009 Blue Room Christmas tree.   The tree will be cut in late November and transported to Washington where it will be presented to the First Lady in early December.  The tree will then be decorated by the White House Floral Department staff and volunteers and will be displayed throughout the holiday season.  It will be seen and enjoyed by numerous holiday visitors and featured on media tours. 

My vote is for a hope, dreams and wishes theme with stars of varying colors and sizes crafted by artisans representing all 50 of the United States set against a backdrop of sparkling lights and flocked branches.  Why? Because even in these challenging times, hope springs eternal, dreams do come true and wishes are still be granted.

Best Wishes 2009!

 

http://clinton4.nara.gov/WH/Holidays/2000/tidbits.html

http://thepage.time.com/white-house-menu-for-2008-holiday-receptions/

http://www.christmastree.org/whitehouse02.cfm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:1961_Blue_Room_Christmas_tree_-_John_and_Jacqueline_Kennedy.jpg

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_House_Christmas_tree

Christmas in July

In Western culture, Christmas occurs on December 25.  It’s usually a time for celebrating the birth of Christ, gift giving and holiday cheer.  Christmas in July celebrations may be held to provide a second joyful celebration in the year. 

In the southern hemisphere, where July is generally the coldest month, Christmas in July is the name given to social events with a winter theme.  Midwinter “Christmas” or Yulefest is an unofficial related celebration followed by some families with an English or European background in Australia and New Zealand during their wintertime.  The date of the observance varies from place to place and family to family but generally occurs around the time of the winter solstice, June 20 or 21. 

In the northern hemisphere where the weather is generally warm during the summer months, many crave the atmosphere of cooler temperatures, gift giving and long gone holiday spirit.  To satisfy this craving, some throw parties during the month of July that mimic the celebration of Christmas.  The features include Santa Claus, ice cream and other cold foods and gifts.  Retailers use this time as a marketing opportunity and a way increase summer sales.  Television shopping networks even have shows titled Christmas in July

The Swedish, Norwegian and Danish word for Christmas is Jul, which happens to be the abbreviation for July in English.  When you translate “Christmas in July” to Swedish you get “Jul i Juli.”

Origins

In the 1892 opera Werther, based on Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther, a group of children rehearse a Christmas song in July, to which a character responds, “When you sing Christmas in July, you rush the season.”

The earliest known occasion to make the phrase Christmas in July literal was in July 1933 when girls at a summer camp, Camp Keystone in North Carolina, celebrated with a Christmas tree, gifts and a visit from Santa Claus. 

The term and perhaps the concept was given national attention with the release of the Hollywood comedy Christmas in July.  In the movie, a man is duped into believing he has won a $25,000 prize contest.  He buys presents for family, friends and neighbors and proposes marriage to his girlfriend. 

Celebrating Christmas in July

Celebrating Christmas in July can be tons of fun whether you throw a summer bash complete with a visit from Santa, bake cookies or watch a few good Christmas themed movies.  For a mini-celebration, I plan to watch a few favorite movies like The Holiday, The Family Stone and This Christmas.  If I get really excited, who knows, I might even dust off The Polar Express. 

On a visit to the local Crate and Barrel outlet, I picked up some pretty cool Christmas ornaments that were featured in last year’s catalog.  There were even a few buyers sample ornaments available, which may or may not end up as a part of the 2009 Christmas collection.  Each ornament and sample cost about .95 cents, not too shabby for a Christmas in July purchase!

Whether you decide to celebrate Christmas in July or wait until the real thing on December 25th, reminders of the season will start showing up everywhere in about 3 months.  Most retailers have made inventory choices and will start decorating stores at the end of September and in early October.  Oh my, how time flies. 

Happy Christmas in July!    

 

Reference:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas_in_July