Recommendations: Christmas (Week Two)

It’s another week closer to Christmas and I have more fun recommendations for the holiday season (and so does my boyfriend). As always, I’ll start with books!

The Biggest Smallest Christmas Present
by Harriet Muncaster
2016, G. P. Putnam’s Sons

This is an adorable picture book about a very tiny girl who asks Santa for Christmas gifts each year, only to get things that are way too big! She tries to tell him, but her messages keep not getting through. Eventually, though, everything works out perfectly.

The Dolls’ Christmas
by Tasha Tudor
1950, various publishers

This is a really cute story with wonderful and detailed illustrations from Tasha Tudor. It tells about the Christmas celebration that two dolls throw for their friends with tree trimming, doll-sized cookies, and singing carols. The pictures show the elaborate dollhouse where the dolls live and even the little girls who own them. It’s charming and has a vintage style that is fun.

The Day Santa Stopped Believing in Harold
by Maureen Fergus
illustrated by Cale Atkinson
2016, Tundra Books

You know that phase kids go through when they aren’t sure they believe in Santa anymore, but also aren’t sure they *don’t* believe? Well, apparently Santa goes through that same phase. In this case, specifically about a kid he delivers gifts for named Harold. Watching him do all the things kids do to try and trick everyone else into telling him the truth is really cute and a lot of fun. This is a great book. And I learned that elves work in cubicles!

Manga Claus: The Blade of Kringle
by Nathaniel Marunas
illustrated by Erik Craddock
2006, Razorbill

Did you know that Santa is a martial arts master with a magical Samurai sword? I didn’t either, but apparently he is. When a disgruntled elf sends magical ninja teddy bears to destroy Santa’s Workshops and everything else at the North Pole, the only one who can save the day is a sword-wielding Santa! This one is crazy and fun and silly, but definitely worth it!

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever
by Barbara Robinson
1972, HarperCollins

This book is something of a classic. It tells the story of a church’s annual Christmas pageant, but this year the worst kids in town (the Herdmans) decide to participate. They’ve never heard the nativity story and have lots of questions and interesting observations (like what kind of stupid gifts are frankincense and myrrh for a baby?). It seems like it’s going to be the worst pageant ever, but in true Christmas fashion, everybody comes around and it’s at least a memorable show!

How Mrs. Claus Saved Christmas
by Jeff Guinn
2005, Tarcher

This is actually a sequel to The Autobiography of Santa Claus, but it stands alone beautifully and I enjoyed it much better. This story focuses on Mrs. Claus and her life, particularly during the Commonwealth government’s ban of Christmas in the 1600s in England (I know, I already had a book set during this time – apparently I find it good fodder for stories). What do you do if you are literally married to the symbol of Christmas and stuck somewhere that Christmas is banned? You find ways to bring the Christmas spirit to life anyway! It’s a fun story and told beautifully. I highly recommend this one.

And now, as last week, a movie and some music from me.

My favorite movie of all time – not just favorite Christmas movie, but favorite ever – is “Miracle on 34th Street” from 1947 starring Maureen O’Hara, John Payne, Natalie Wood, and Edmund Gwenn. It’s about believing in magic and seeing the wonder all around. It tells the story of a man who claims to be the real Santa Claus and has to go to court to prove himself not crazy for thinking so. There are several movie versions of the story and I don’t dislike any of them, but the 1947 one is by far the best.

My music recommendation this week is a song called “Merry Christmas, Darling”, which is sweet and romantic. It’s a song of longing for a loved on on Christmas when they are away and it always makes me smile with it’s quiet beauty.

Again I have some recommendations from my boyfriend.

His Christmas movie suggestion for this week is “Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang”, which is … difficult to describe. It stars Robert Downey, Jr. and is a blast, but it’s so very odd that I’m not even sure how to describe it. It’s set at Christmas time, but otherwise not really a typical Christmas movie. It’s a bit violent, but the story is engaging and intriguingly told from a first person narrative. I do recommend it, but I’m not sure I would have considered it a Christmas movie.

His music recommendation this week is a song called “Sugar and Booze” by Ana Gasteyer. It’s a fun song about the best parts of the holiday being sugar and booze, as the title suggests. This one made me laugh and is worth listening to, especially if you want a break from the more conventional carols playing in every public place these days.

And that is week two of Christmas recommendations! There will be one more week of these before Christmas itself arrives. If I missed your favorite or you want to suggest something to me, please let me know in the comments!

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