Began a sunny, windy morning with stories about Hanukkah, which began last night. Colliers Harvest of Holidays features an essay on the story of how the Jews defeated the Greeks who defiled their temples and the oil that was only supposed to last for one day but burned for eight. There was also two stories about a tiny little boy (including one where he rides on a dreidel), an excerpt from More All Of a Kind Family about their Hanukkah celebration, and several poems.
The last chapter in Tales Told Around the Christmas Tree is all Hanukkah stories. I read two unique modern tales from the late 40's and 50's. The first story is about boy whose best friend is in a car accident on Thanksgiving. His friend is nursed back to health at his home, and they share his Hanukkah celebration. The second story is even more touching. A young refugee from post-World War II Austria is taken in by his American uncle. He's overwhelmed by their huge Hanukkah celebration after his tiny, hidden ones in Europe. It takes a special gift to finally make him feel like he's home.
Listened to Christmas music this morning during breakfast, and later as I wiped the dining area table and dusted the part of the living room with the record player and CD player. The Perry Como Christmas Album features two quite good original numbers, "Christmas Eve" and "There's No Christmas Like a Home Christmas," along with covers of "Ave Maria" and "Toyland," among others. The Disney Family Album is covers of mostly older carols performed by the Disney characters (or their voice actors from the time) with the Disneyland Chorus. "The Twelve Days of Christmas" is especially funny here, and Chip, Dale, and Donald get a really cute version of "The Chipmunks' Christmas Song (Please Christmas Don't Be Late)."
Moved on to Firestone Presents Your Favorite Christmas Music Vol. 7 while eating a quick lunch and getting ready for work. I didn't realize until I looked it up tonight, but I own all seven volumes in this series. Like Great Songs of Christmas, this was made in the 60's for a tire company (which can also be found on the Black Horse Pike, in fact right across from the Acme). Unlike Great Songs, the focus here was mostly on classical Christmas music, with only the occasional pop vocal. Volume 7 features two songs by pop singer Vikki Carr, including the sweet "I Still Believe In Christmas."
The Firestone records really take me back. Mom had a couple in the 1980's. We used to listen to them while we'd decorate the tree together. They always make me think of her. She says her mother used to put them on while they'd decorate the tree. The simple but elegant covers, with their colors alternating between bold and soft, their huge red or magenta ribbons, and the obviously fake mistletoe, screams what Christmas in the 60's looked like to me as a child...and still does now.
It was still sunny but gale-force windy when I made it to work. The Acme was on-and-off busy, mostly likely due to this being the beginning of the month and some big weekend sales ending today. Once again, I kept getting thrown into the registers. I did manage to get a full cart of returns done and helped do the carts outside during my last hour. I also grabbed a bag of sugar while it was still on sale for 99 cents.
Clouds had moved in by the time I'd finished work, and it had gotten much colder. It wasn't a day to linger. After I hurried home, I changed into regular clothes and took out the recycling, then moved on to writing. Leia and Han try to get Ben interested in Blind Man's Bluff, but he'd rather chat with his co-workers at the First Order Savings and Loan, Armitage Hux and Gwendoline Phasma. Finn gets more into the game, chasing Rose around the room. They then move on to another game, Yes and No...and this guessing game reveals what Leia, Han, and most of their friends really think of him, to his shock. Ben stands up for him, and Han doesn't think he's that bad, but everyone else thinks he's a terror.
Broke for dinner at quarter of 7. Ate leftovers, then finished dusting the living room. I always do thorough dusting, under everything I can move, right before I put up the Christmas decorations and Amanda visits. It takes me longer than usual for cleaning, which is part of why I only do it twice a year.
Watched Arthur Christmas while I cleaned. Have you ever wondered how Santa manages to deliver all those packages in just one night? In this movie, his son Steve (Hugh Laurie) manages a precise operation of elves who rush in, deliver most of the packages, and make sure they don't wake up anyone. Santa (Jim Broadbent) symbolically delivers the final package in each house, but otherwise doesn't really do much. His younger son Arthur (James McAvoy) answers letters from the children, and fervently believes in his father and everything he stands for with each fiber of his musical fuzzy-wuzzy slippers. When he discovers that a gift for a little girl named Gwen (Ramona Marquez) was overlooked, he becomes absolutely determined to get it to her, and make sure she retains her belief in Santa. Grandsanta (Bill Nighy) agrees to drive him and a gift-wrapping elf named Byrony (Ashley Jenson) to Gwen's home, but he's more interested in proving that he can still be a good Santa than in the gift. Arthur's tenacity, and his caring about the child, finally shows the entire Christmas family that the real joy in their mission isn't in how the package gets there or which Santa gives it, but in the joy that the package brings to the child.
I've really come to enjoy this touching tale of one family's passing on their business and the faith that Santa inspires. I especially like that no one character is played as the villain. Steve and Arthur are not entirely right or wrong in their approaches to Christmas and Santa, and the countries that try to shoot Grandsanta's ramshackle sleigh out of the sky are more paranoid than evil. Even Grandsanta comes around to Arthur's way of thinking in the end. This is a really fun film that absolutely deserves to be far better-known.
Finished the night with the Eagles-Redskins game. The Eagles had some tense moments, especially when the Skins made a huge interception in the third quarter, but the Redskins just couldn't seem to keep players on the field. I think the Eagles knocked at least four or five Redskins out of the game, including their quarterback. The aggression worked. The Eagles finally out-shoved the Skins 28-13.
(Oh, and for those who celebrate it, I hope you enjoy the eight days of Hanukkah!)