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Posts Tagged ‘#Christmas’

Santa Problems

December 7, 2018 10 comments

[I once posted a Christmas-themed piece of (exactly – count them!) 100 word flash fiction – The First Coming – and thought I’d try it again.]

 

The reindeer had let him down: after too much Christmas spirit tasting they were donnered and blitzened. It’s why Rudolph’s nose is red – like Alex Ferguson’s.

He only worked one night a year: this could get him sacked! Without reindeer he was going to have to charter loads of flights. He managed to make bookings, and after taking the park’n’ride (200 miles away from the airport) his CheapoAir flight awaited.

Then he saw the huge guy at the desk, menacingly flexing a pair of latex gloves: “Did you pack these bags yourself, sir?”

“My elves did. I’m buggered, aren’t I?”

©️ as shown

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A #ChristmasSongOfTheDay Part One

December 6, 2018 15 comments

You may have noticed that my blog’s tagline includes the phrase ‘with occasional music,’ and you may also have noticed that I have made the odd post or several on this theme. I think I’m now in the fourth year – or maybe the fifth, time flies – of posting a Christmas song on Twitter and Facebook every day in December, leading up to two on Christmas Day itself. This year, for the first time, I’m sharing them with my newish Facebook page for this blog (obligatory plug – please feel free to hit the ‘like’ button on the widget thingy to the right), as well as Twitter, of course. Last year, I began posting them here too, in several chunks rather than daily, and as it went tolerably well I thought I’d do it again. You may have seen last year’s posts: if so, I’m relying on your memory being poor, as a number of these songs have featured before! So, welcome to Part One of 2018’s imaginatively titled #ChristmasSongOfTheDay.

One of the things I try to avoid with my choices is falling back on the usual suspects. There are many very good Christmas songs which have done little or nothing on the pop charts, and those are probably more to my musical tastes anyway. So, if you’re looking for Slade, Mud, Wham etc kindly move along now – nothing for you to see here! Having said that, I do make a few honourable exceptions, and the song I’ve started with each year is one of those. This has been one of my favourites since it was a massive hit in 1970, and was written as a message against the rampant commercialisation of Christmas. Nearly fifty years later that message is just as relevant, if not more so:

For December Sundays I try to choose something reflective, maybe a little more serious than some of my other choices which, as you will see, can be a little raucous! This year, my first Sunday choice was this one, with a beautiful video to accompany it:

I’ve loved Jackson Browne’s music ever since I first heard it, around the time I went to university – 1972. You may know of him as the co-writer of the song from which my blog takes his name, and I rate him very highly as a singer-songwriter. I was lucky enough to see him play live in 2010, at London’s Royal Albert Hall, and he didn’t disappoint. And yes, he did play Take It Easy!

Another longstanding favourite of mine is John Mellencamp (aka John Cougar, Johnny Cougar, John Cougar Mellencamp). This was my choice for Day 3: it is a live concert performance of a Christmas pop classic and, whilst other versions have been chart hits, this one wasn’t – although it does appear on a benefit album, A Very Special Christmas, which was released to support Special Olympics International Inc. This performance is typically boisterous and features a cameo by his then three year old daughter Teddi, who rather steals the show at the end.  The ‘proud Dad’ look on his face is lovely and, thirty or so years on, I hope she is as proud of this as he clearly is:

Continuing in rowdy mode into Day 4 I chose a song and video which encapsulate all the joys of a family Christmas. Or maybe not. You may not be familiar with the Dropkick Murphys but do watch this – the song is great, and the video is a hoot:

Something a little calmer for Day 5? OK, here you go – well, to begin with, anyway. Walk Off The Earth have made their career on the back of a whole raft of very creative videos, both cover versions and their own songs. If you like this, and haven’t come across them before, you can find loads more to watch on YouTube. Again, this is a Christmas pop standard which has featured in the charts, notably in the ‘duet’ by Bing Crosby and David Bowie. WOTE’s take on it is a little different:

The final song in this selection is the one I posted earlier today. Anyone with an interest in rock/folk/pop music will be aware of the Nobel Prize winner Mr Robert Zimmerman. But you may not be familiar with the album of Christmas songs he released in 2009: Christmas In The Heart. This is one of the tracks on that album, and shows a side of him you probably won’t have seen before:

That’s all for today, folks. There are so many songs to choose from, and I’m already afraid that I’m going to have to leave out some of my favourites. Oh well, there’s always next year. I’ll be back on Wednesday with songs 7 to 12 and I hope to see you again then. Do please let me know in the comments if there are any songs you would like me to include. I’m always open to suggestions: but be warned, I can always ignore them, unless they are very good, of course!

Dare I Mention The C Word?

November 25, 2018 24 comments

Christmas is coming

I expect many of us learned that little rhyme when we were children, which harks back to a bygone age in which Christmas was still relatively innocent, and less swamped by today’s rampant commercialism. The ha’penny referred to is in fact the old British pre-decimal halfpenny coin, which ceased to be legal tender in 1969, and the rhyme pre-dates that by centuries. As I picked up my iPad to download my digital newspaper (yes, I move with the times!) I noticed that today is the 25th November, exactly one month till Christmas, and this got me thinking about what the big day means. As I have said before, I veer towards agnosticism rather than any particular religion, but I respect the fact that this is a Christian celebration: Christ Mass, Jesus’ birthday. I also respect the fact that for those of other faiths this is probably not a day on which you celebrate, although I would imagine that it is hard to avoid if you live in a predominantly Christian country! Over the years, many traditions have developed to celebrate Christmas, both in a public sense and within families. I know that the way my parents celebrated Christmas wasn’t exactly the same as others in our village, but at its core was the same thing and there is nothing wrong with bringing a little individuality to it: what works for some may not be right for others, but the important thing is that it has its meaning for us.

The point of today’s post isn’t to look back in a haze of nostalgia, though. I want to look ahead, to what this Christmas will mean, and every succeeding Christmas. Much has been said and written in recent weeks, months and years about religion being at the root of conflicts across the world. This is terribly sad, even more so when you consider that it is nothing new: in the 2000+ years of our calendar system there has been a conflict or war with a religious element to it in around 1500 of those years, somewhere in the world. What I fear is that we are losing the ability to respect each other’s religions, cultures and traditions. I worked for twenty years in one of the most culturally diverse areas in the UK, and have been part of celebrations for other religions, such as Diwali and Eid, to name but two. What always struck me was how people of different faiths welcomed others into their celebrations, and how this engendered mutual understanding, respect and friendship. Yet somehow, the great and the good seem to think that others may be offended by these celebrations, giving rise to such lunacies as Birmingham City Council having rebranded the season some years ago as ‘Winterval,’ or the widespread use of the phrase ‘Happy Holidays’ which I think started in North America. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think so!

Why can’t we all celebrate our cultural and religious diversity, rather than attempt to water it down to avoid offending someone, to the point at which we lose sight of the true meaning? I know that sounds ridiculously naive, given what I have just said about religion as a factor in conflicts, but I don’t really believe that the zealots who kill in the name of a religion are in any way upholding its true spirit. Nor do I accept that the more evangelical approach is necessarily right either: it can also lead to a blinkered view of religion and its place in the world, coupled with a great deal of hypocrisy.

But I digress. Is it too much to hope that those of us for whom it is part of our culture can celebrate Christmas, however we choose to do it, without having to worry what others may think, and to hope that even if it isn’t part of their tradition they feel included and able to take part? Equally, is it too much to hope that all religious and cultural celebrations can be respected and enjoyed by all? It probably is too much, but I’ll continue to live in hope. This will be my celebration for 25th December:

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I hope you can share in the spirit of this, as I would hope to share in the spirit of your celebrations, whatever they may be and whenever they take place. And I hope that your preparations will go well: you can’t be any worse off than I am, as the realisation that there is exactly a month to go is coupled with the knowledge that I haven’t even started yet!

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