With Christmas on Wednesday, I’ll be reading some fun Christmas-themed books, articles, and podcasts this week. Grab some egg nog and join me in puzzling over the shortage of new Christmas songs, or read a holiday-themed mystery by the fire.
On Your Kindle
Merry Christmas! Celebrating America’s Greatest Holiday, by Karal Ann Marling
I love the work of cultural historian Karal Ann Marling, who has also written books on the 1950s, Elvis Presley, and Disneyland, so I was excited to find that she’d written about Christmas trees and toys. In this fun look at widespread Christmas traditions, she traces the evolution of things we take for granted, like patterned wrapping paper and ceramic holiday villages.
On Your Smartphone
“All I Want for Christmas is a New Christmas Song,” by Chris Klimek
This widely-shared article on holiday songs makes an interesting point: Most of our Christmas standards are classics, rather than new songs. According to Klimek, “There hasn’t been another original holiday single in the 19 years since “All I Want for Christmas is You” that’s had anything close to that song’s commercial or cultural impact. Despite the gigabytes of Christmas music released each year…they are, overwhelmingly, reiterating yuletide warhorses. It’s up to you whether you’d rather hear Clarkson or the Robertsons of Duck Dynasty do 'Baby, It’s Cold Outside,' but both options are available.”
On a Podcast
Tired of too-cheery holiday tunes? Check out this fun NPR segment on sad and sarcastic Christmas songs. Some of my holiday favorites, like “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and “Blue Christmas” are mentioned. As far as I’m concerned, though, Roy Orbison’s “Pretty Paper” is the saddest holiday song of all.
Hercule Poirot’s Christmas, by Agatha Christie
This classic mystery novel features a chilling murder in winter. Hercule Poirot, the fussy Belgium detective, spends Christmas at the home of the wealthy but cruel Simeon Lee. When his host is murdered, Poirot must discover which member of the family is responsible.