Songs and other joys of Christmastime
Special Christmas joys
When I think of Christmas, the music and all that is a special part of the holiday there's a poem, a letter, a song and movies that come to mind that are special and enjoyed by all. The most beloved Christmas writing which is read to children during the holiday is "Twas the night before Christmas" which brings the story of St Nicholas also known as Santa Claus to life and brings smiles and joy to children the world over. The story was first seen in a New York paper around Christmas 1823 with an anonymous author. It was later reported to be written by Clement Clark Moore, 2 decades later as part of his anthology of writings. Another writer who has been associated with the writing is Henry Livingston Jr. Although there is question surrounding the actual author of this delightful tale there is no question as to the magic and wonder of the story. I still remember when my mom would read the story to me on Christmas Eve when I was just a little boy eagerly awaiting Santa's visit. We also enjoy reading it to our son on Christmas Eve and have been doing so since he was 5 years old.
Another magical writing that stirs up the joys and wonders of Christmas is the letter written from a girl named Virginia from New York in 1897 asking if there is a Santa Claus and the response from a newspaper writer. The writer's editorial is truly touching and tugs at your heart. It is what is so magical about Christmas as the writer, Frances Pharcellus Church took great effort in replying to the young girl's question with such sensitivity and heartfelt emotion that it has become part of our holiday folklore.
The song that is number 1 in my heart and a favorite of children throughout the world and for over 60 years is "Rudolph the red nosed reindeer" which is based on a story written by a copywriter named Robert L. May at Montgomery Ward department stores in 1939 for a store promotion during the Christmas holiday. The story was then written into a song by Johnny Marks, May's brother-in-law in 1949 and sung by the legendary Gene Autry who originally turned it down but was convinced to record and sing it by his wife who knew better as she felt it was destined to be a kid's favorite and it was.
Rudolph the red nose reindeer is a touching story that reminds us of what is special in our childhood and brings a smile to your face when you listen to the song as it portrays a reindeer who is awkward and considered a misfit because he is different from the rest and is made fun of. Rudolph realizes he has something unique that makes him different from the crowd and though he tries desperately to fit in he is still made fun of by the other reindeer. There is one reindeer who believes in him aside from his mother and they give him encouragement. Rudolph also is recruited by Santa Claus to guide his sled because of his shiny nose. It is a story beloved by all. Even my 11 year old son loves to listen and sing Rudolph the red nose reindeer.
What started out as an idea to promote a children's coloring book, a story of a reindeer with a unique shiny red nose became an instant classic that captured the imagination of children and won their hearts. The holiday song preserved on records and CDs with Gene Autry's voice is probably the most requested song played at Christmastime.
Another popular song that is the most famous and most requested song of the holiday is Bing Crosby's White Christmas which is a wonderful song that sums up our dreams and hopes at Christmastime. It is a delight to listen to and certainly makes the holiday special. It was written by Irving Berlin around 1940 and sung by Bing Crosby in 1941 on a radio program on Christmas day.
The movie that shows how one life makes such a big impact on the lives of so many others is Frank Capra's "It's a wonderful life" released in December 1946 starring Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed which is a movie for all to appreciate and enjoy. It surely will bring a tear to your eye and teach you a valuable life lesson and bring the holiday spirit into your heart. The cast is remarkable and the story is beautiful as it focuses on George Bailey and how he becomes desperate and winds up meeting his guardian angel who grants him his wish of not wanting to be born. As a result he gets a view of a far different town he once lived in where he gets to see what life would be like had he not been born and how he learns that his life is very important and all the people he knew were touched by his life. It is a truly compelling story that is a pleasure to see year after year and it never loses its magic. I am touched at the end when ZuZu says "Teacher says everytime a bell rings an angel gets his wings."
The Charlie Brown Christmas special is my all time favorite animated Christmas show and it is family tradition to see the Charles Schulz Peanut's classic year after year and it always brings me back to my childhood and the joys of Christmastime. My most favorite scene is when Charlie Brown brings back his little Christmas tree and is all excited until he puts an ornament on the tree and it tilts over. He leaves frustrated and then Linus sees the tree and surrounds it with his blanket to support it and decorates it with the rest of the gang with Snoopy's decorations and lights. When Charlie Brown returns he sees how beautiful his tree is as all the kids sing and Charlie's Christmas spirit soars. It is truly a wonderful moment.
A film classic based on Charles Dicken's "A Christmas Carol" is another holiday tradition I enjoy. My favorite movie version is the 1951 release of Scrooge starring Alister Sim. It is true to Dicken's tale about how a miser can change based on seeing the error of his ways and can make amends and turn his life around for the better good of mankind. It is a touching story and my favorite scene is the end when he befriends Tiny Tim and sees to it that he will be cared for and has promise for a bright future. Tiny Tim's line "God Bless us everyone" and his belief that Mr Scrooge was responsible for the family's Christmas meal is a real heart warmer.
Another holiday tradition at Christmastime is taking my family into New York City to see the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree and taking my son to see Transiberian Orchestra perform their Christmas show at the Nassau Coliseum.
Finally Christmas for me is extra special when I attend midnight mass. I have been enjoying the celebration for many years and it is part of the enjoyment before I start to wrap the family Christmas presents as I watch It's a Wonderful Life, Scrooge, Charlie Brown Christmas and listen to Rudolph the red nose reindeer and White Christmas. When I see my son's eyes light up when he sees all the presents Santa left for him that is my most favorite joy of all at Christmastime.
Edward D. Iannielli III
Helped by Matt Iannielli (my son)