Friday, December 10, 2021

Our Favorite Christmas Books, Movies, and Music

Lord of the Rings is absolutely a Christmas book if you read it out loud in front of the tree at Christmas-time! Also, it has amazing food descriptions.

 Alright, Friends! Need something to watch or listen to while you craft all the Christmas crafts?

The kids and I have got you covered!


  • The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, by Barbara Robinson. I don't know if this is a genuine classic, of if it's on my mind every year because of how much I loved watching the movie version on cable. It was also my town's Christmas play one year when I was little, and I remember getting Papa to drive me to the children's auditions so that I could make a total ass of myself in the middle of a high school gymnasium.
  • A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens. This is one of the books that we do as a family read-aloud in December. 
  • I Spy Christmas. Are kids still obsessed with I Spy books? I keep our old copy of this in storage with the ornaments and decorations, and every year it's just as fun as it was when the kids were tiny and obsessed with all things I Spy.
  • The Night before Christmas, by Clement Moore. We've got an old picture book version of this that the kids were OBSESSED with one December when they were small. Ever since, Matt still reads it aloud to them every Christmas Eve.
  • The Nutcracker, by E.T.A. Hoffman. It's oddly difficult to find an unabridged edition of this book, but the story is so weird that it's worth it!
  • The Polar Express. One Christmas, many years ago, the kids went outside on Christmas morning to find on the driveway a bell that must have fallen off of Santa's sleigh. Every year, when the kids put it on the Christmas tree, one of them shakes it near my ears and insists that SURELY I MUST HEAR IT RINGING?!? Alas, however, I do not. It's clearly broken, and I don't know why they insist on pretending that it isn't...


  • A Garfield Christmas Special. I have a weird attachment to made-for-TV Christmas specials, the cheezier, the better. The kids love Garfield, too, AND Jon is from Indiana, so this is for sure a legit choice for holiday viewing.
  • Star Wars Holiday Special. Don't watch this. Even if you love Star Wars, don't watch this. I put it on one year as a whim when Will was requesting "weird" Christmas movies, and now we're locked into watching it every year. 
  • White Christmas. I have no idea when we started the yearly tradition of watching this, because it's not even that uniformly good, and we've been watching it every year since way before the kids should have been interested. But now we've got a billion inside jokes from this movie that we literally say all year, and it would be unthinkable to skip it.


Syd colored these ornaments at a public library Nutcracker event when she was... two, maybe? I laminated them, and every year it gives me the greatest pleasure to find them in our ornaments bin, laughingly praise Syd's artwork, and watch her hang them on the tree.

  • Caga Tio. When the kids were preschool and early elementary, I used to sign us up for a lot of mail exchanges with other kids around the world. The kids did postcard exchanges, Artist Trading Card exchanges, state culture swaps, and a holiday card exchange in which a child from Catalan sent us the most bafflingly-illustrated homemade Christmas card that turned out to be a drawing of Caga Tio. A parent had clearly translated the kid's accompanying letter for her, making heavy use of what I assume is a vernacular dictionary, because the letter described the beloved Catalonian Christmas tradition of Shit a Log, including the lyrics to a favorite folk song that went something like, "Shit a log, shit a log, shit out something nice for me!" Reading this kid's letter was just about the best moment of Will's life to date.
  • "Christmas Tree Farm." It's one of Syd's oldest videos, and also my favorite! 
  • French Christmas Songs. The kids think it's very annoying that I'm always trying to add the French language sort of atmospherically into their subconsciouses, but I persist in turning this playlist on while we do holiday crafts. 
  • My Favorite Christmas Songs. This is my playlist of my Christmas favorites. Don't be surprised if it hits pretty much like one of those "Rockin' Christmas" CD collections. I have very little taste!
  • The Nutcracker. I mean, of COURSE! We don't necessarily listen to this all December, but from November until the curtain drops on Syd's final performance of the season, I wouldn't be surprised if I have this on every single day--I get REVVED UP with excitement for The Nutcracker! 
Is it just me that's having a hard time believing it's nearly Christmas, or getting into the "Christmas" "spirit?" I mean, it's 50 degrees and raining outside right now. Will and I have spent the entire morning finishing up her college applications to Swarthmore and Yale, with a billion more to do, it feels like, before January 1. College applications feel like they are sucking up all my focus and sapping my festive energy.

This weekend, though, I vow to start taking my own list seriously. Perhaps it will be a White Christmas family movie night, with popcorn, homemade chicken alfredo pizza, and white chocolate fondue for dessert. Or maybe it will be the night I force everyone to get into their jammies, hand them thermoses of hot chocolate and bags of popcorn, and we drive around town looking at Christmas lights while listening to my holiday playlist. Or we'll do Cards Against Life Day, where we half-watch the Star Wars Christmas Special while playing endless rounds of Cards Against Humanity using our decks of mostly made-up cards. 

Ugh, that means I definitely have to go grocery shopping first. Why does emotional labor always include an annoying dose of physical labor, as well?

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