Christmas Disney Surprise - TAKE TWO!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Here we go again!  O.K. You should all know by now Kenneth is obsessed, free 3-day park hoppers have been burning a hole in his pocket and he once again found killer flights and suggested we fly down for the weekend. Ready or not, here we come!

We managed to pull this off last year and the trip was a big success!  As seen in last years video, the big reveal was much slower as we woke Awsumb up telling him we were going to some crazy early morning sale and promised he would see Santa later that day.  I didn't even plan to video tape his reaction and wish I would have as I just ended up with a dark iPhone video  taken when Awsumb started asking why we seemed to be driving to the airport.

This year, as a "too cool for school" 10 year old he was a little more reserved and knowing I was video taping he didn't exactly give me the screaming and jumping for joy reaction I thought he would... but by the time we actually out our shoes on and started loaded up the suitcases in the car he was pretty hyper about our little adventure.

I am glad we were able to pull this off as a surprise because Kenneth was so excited he kept openly talking about it in front of our little guy!  ...  leaving me constantly scrambling to cover it up.

I sure hope he doesn't think we are doing this EVERY Christmas!

The first day was beautiful, and a little crowded.  The second day was POURING rain!  Which was fun for us because all the locals stayed home leaving no lines for us!  Check back for pictures from our rainy Christmas at Disneyland!

Crackers and Cheese

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Why does Christmas music have to be so cheesy?

And I don't get some of them anyway...Let's start with Pine Cones and Holly Berries, which the elementary school choir teacher tortured us with every. single. year.  I still get this song stuck in my head today...

"Popcorn for you, apples for me"

Why can't they both have popcorn AND apples? Who is depriving these kids? Does one of them have braces? And if they do wouldn't apples be bad too?  These are the things I think about and it's just a downward spiral from there...

"Nutcracker handy"

Who wrote this song?  Meredith Wilson is who pops up on a quick internet search and apparently his parents were too poor to afford both popcorn AND apples.

And then there's Jingle Bells, which plaques me at all time of the year.  But at least it's a tune I can actually hmm or drum and get someone to recognize (remember, I'm tune deaf!)

Basically Christmas music can be an OCD nightmare... and not in a good way.   After all who wants to be stuck with some of these songs running through your head while your gardening IN JUNE?!

So in an effort to keep The Soundtrack of Kenneth's Life going he searches high and low to find me the very best NON cheesy Christmas music.  This year we give you....  CRACKERS AND CHEESE!
Kenneth's comments regarding our selections:

"This Time of Year", The Mighty Mighty Bosstones.  On the surface this track might sound a little anti-Christmas and some of you might like that about this song.  For me this song is opposed to many of the consumer-oriented customs of Christmas - massive consumer indulgence and Griswold-style Christmas lights - while emphasizing the feeling that "gets me and never lets me act like I don't care" and remembering that Christmas is special "cause all of us get together."

"Happy XMas (War is Over)", Sense Field.  Originally recorded by John Lennon, this Christmas song was intended as a call for peace.  At the end of the year, "what have you done" to help the "weak and the strong", the "rich and the poor ones" and everyone else have a "very merry Christmas and a Happy New Year?"  Someone else asked those questions a couple thousand years ago.

"One Silent Night", Ffh.  This track takes the spirit, setting and even snippets of the traditional Silent Night and wraps it all up in a mid-tempo pop anthem.  It's a really pretty version.

"The Lights and the Buzz", Jack's Mannequin.  This is the time of year when Awsumb always wants it to snow.  He says, "if it's going to be this cold anyway, we could at least have some snow!"  Sometimes the stress of life can keep us from feeling like it's Christmas.  Even if "life has been no holiday", the Christmas break can "remove the splinters" and remind us that "it's good to be alive."

"I Hope That it Snows", Madi Diaz.

"Forget You, Santa! (Cee-Lo Greeen vs. Jackson 5)", Voicedude.  Didn't get what you wanted from Santa this year?  I love a mashup and this song humorously mashes up the Jackson 5's Santa Claus with "Forget You" (the friendly version of the big 2010 hit song from Cee-Lo Green) and for good measure overlays some lines from great Christmas specials and movies.

"We Three Kings", Greg Simpson.  Now pretty hard to find, but it sounds like the Three Kings are driving across the desert, "following yonder star" with their gifts secured in the back.  You know, with their hands out the window riding the wind...

 "A Cradle in Bethlehem", The Beautiful Mistake.

"Rudolph (You Don't Have to Put On the Red Light)", mojochronic.  Another great holiday mash-up combining The Police's Roxanne with Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer - and sound clips from the classic animated show.  You will never hear another Rudolph like this!

"I'll Be Home for Christmas", Matchbook Romance.

 "Maybe This Christmas", Ron Sexsmith.  Another beautiful Christmas wish that we can find peace on earth, in our own families as well as in the world.  "Maybe this Christmas will find us at last in heavenly peace, grateful, at least, for the love we've been shown in the past..."

"Leaving Heaven (feat. Vince Gill)", Matthew West.

"(It Must've Been Ol') Santa Claus", Harry Connick, Jr.  This song captures the excitement of a child on Christmas Eve.  He's old enough to have doubts about Santa, but young enough to imagine amazing things.  

"Hey Santa!", Straight No Chaser.

"Elf's Lament (feat. Michael Buble)", Barenaked Ladies.  "Girls and boys, before you wish for what you wish for...  consider the price to an Elf."  Christmas is the time of year to think about others.  This is the theme song of "Occupy North Pole."

 "Angel (Holiday)," Jack Johnson.  Christmas is good because it reminds us to think about how much we care about those we love.  I am lucky to have someone who lights up Christmas for me and makes our home a beautiful place to be, especially at this time of year.  "I've got an angel...  She give me presents with her presence alone, She gives me every thing I wish for, gives me kisses... just for coming home..." (Anyone who's groaning right now better stop, because we warned you!  This mix is called Crackers and Cheese, right?)

"Do You Hear What I Hear", Sawyer Brown.

"To Be Alone With You", Sufjan Stevens.  This unique artist is known for making independent "chamber pop" and has a seriously great Christmas album (four discs!) that sounds like no other Christmas album you'll hear.  This song is not from that album, but is sweet and powerful and reminds us what the Savior did for us, and is a great way to close this mix.

Previous blogs regarding Christmas music you may be interested in: Mixed Christmas and The Sounds of Christmas

What Christmas music is on your playlist this year?

A Christmas Card

Monday, December 5, 2011

This year we are reading A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, who also happens to be one of my favorite authors.  The first time I was introduced to this story was by Donald Duck and his little Nephews in Mickey's Christmas Carol.  Some say Dickens wrote it to revive Christmas traditions which seemed to be dying out.  And of course to remind man to forget about himself and give to those less fortunate.

Although some have called A Christmas Carol a secular story, it’s clear to whoever reads it carefully that without Christ, the "mighty Founder" of Christmas, there is no reason to celebrate. As Scrooge’s nephew, Fred, explains, nothing about Christmas can be separate from "the veneration due to its sacred name and origin." This is what gives meaning to Scrooge’s resolution at the end of the story: "I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year."

It was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, “God Bless Us, Every One!

If there’s hope for mean old Scrooge, Dickens is saying, there must be hope for each of us. And there is hope for each of us, through the atonement of Jesus Christ.

Charles Dickens left his children with his own testimony of Christ and requested it not be published, but that it should be kept in the family. After the last of his children died, the family decided to share the book with the world and published The Life of Our Lord by Charles Dickens.  The book begins...

"My Dear Children, I am very anxious that you should know something about the History of Jesus Christ. For everybody ought to know about Him. No one ever lived who was so good, so kind, so gentle, and so sorry for all people who did wrong, or were in any way ill or miserable, as He was."

I can't think of a more beautiful gift, than your own testimony.

Making Christmas, Making Christmas!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

December 1st and so it begins... To some it truly is The Nightmare Before Christmas.  Last year at this time I was putting together 150 Christmas boxes at the office.  Shredded cardboard was all over the conference room and crinkle cut stuffing was flying about as red and green dust began to fill the air!  It was the job nobody wanted to do, but still the office felt obligated to do up special Christmas boxes each year.  Although they could have done something as simple as gift cards or a small bonus, they insisted on these frilly boxes and I totally loved every minute of it!  Because I cared about sharing something with these people to thank them for a job well done and wish them a Merry Christmas.  What's so bad about spending a few hours making mountains move (seriously, I was lost in mountains of gift boxes!) and listening to my favorite Christmas music?  This was totally my theme song!
Making Christmas - Nightmare Revisited

Rise Against

Tim Burton's Nightmare Before Christmas is one of my favorite movies and I have to watch it every year.  Jack, the King of Halloween grows restless, looking for something  more.  One day while wandering in the woods he finds Christmas land.  Curious about the joy and wonder he finds he brings all sort of things home trying to get down to the bottom of this thing called Christmas.  Why was it so magical?  What was it all about?  After kidnapping Santa and making a complete nightmare out of Christmas, Jack never really understands the meaning of Christmas because he spent all his time analyzing the "things of Christmas."

The Corner Critic's review of the movie said, "It is a carefully crafted satire against the blandness of traditional holidays, about how their meanings become diluted to the point of nonexistence."

Tim Burton was inspired to write this story after finding himself in a holiday display at a department store. "Christmas decorations were being combined with Halloween decorations – that was the genesis of the whole concept. So routine are our holidays that department stores almost cannot wait to decorate for them."

And don't forget the Christmas Music! Our family gets a kick out of Straight No Chaser's hit song The Christmas Can Can... because after just a few errands, you've heard them all! And just as Tim Burton discovered the typical store really can become The Nightmare Before Christmas!

The movie is a commentary on how our culture robs symbols of their meaning and mixes them together until they serve a different purpose all together.  And every year I notice more and more traditions that just clutter up Christmas and are really more about fueling consumerism.
And it's those things that create holiday stress make the season a nightmare to some people. Maybe Jack and The Grinch need to get together. Jack could never figure out what all the Christmas stuff meant... But Christmas doesn't need to be saved... because as the Grinch knows, even without all the stuff, Christmas comes anyway!

Adults who are asked to remember Christmases when their parents didn't have much, often have fond memories about what they did do or get that year.  Kids are more likely to remember a small or special thing than a lot of meaningless things.

What are your plans to create a simple and more meaningful Christmas for your family?

Previous blogs you may like to read:

Don't Let the Grinch Steal Your Christmas!

The Gift of Nothing

The Present