Saturday, December 17, 2011

My 12 Days of Christmas

Day 7 - The Music!

What would the Christmas Season be without the music?  Flat as a doormat!

From the simplest carol like "Silent Night" to the fancy oratorios ("Messiah") and even the symphonic ballet "The Nutcracker Suite" we all adore the music.  Christmas music in the malls starting Labor Day - not so much!

We're more likely to be listening to classical music most of the time, but when I look in our CD rack the variety of old favorites I find is astounding.  From country to classical, choruses, orchestras, instrumentals - it's all there.  Here are a few of my favorite things:

Joy to the World (Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra and Chorus) - This has been my absolute favorite Christmas album for decades.  Released in 1987, it was recorded in 1971 and is the full rich, glorious sound of full orchestra and chorus.  It fills the house with sound - strings, big brass, timpani and voices - and makes you want to replay it all evening.  This is my go-to album for tree decorating.  Somehow I got it into my head that the name of the album was "The Glorious Sound of Christmas".  It's not, but that would be a better name for it.

Odetta: Christmas Spirituals - Probably Mitchell's favorite album.  Just a guitar, a bass and a bit of drum set and the unique voice of Odetta.  It takes one to the core of what Christmas is all about.

The Christmas Album (Canadian Brass) - Who doesn't love brass?  Carols and secular songs arranged for a tuba and its friends.  We actually have three CD's by brass quintets.  They are like the champagne of music - all sparkly and bubbly.

Russian Christmas (St. Petersburg Chamber Choir with Olga Borodina) - If you don't know Russian choral music, this would be a great way to introduce yourself to it.  While American choral music often features the high clear tones of the sopranos (think St. Olaf's choir and their tone), Russian choral music starts with the biggest most solid bass support that you can imagine.  In person, you can actually feel the sound vibration of the basses.  You won't understand a single word of this album, but maybe that's a good thing.  You have to listen with your heart, and that's not a bad thing.  Olga Borodina is a splendid mezzo-soprano, so this is a double treat.

Songs of Joy and Peace (Yo-Yo Ma and Friends) - A  wonderful mix of Yo-Yo Ma and everyone from Diana Krall to Dave Brubeck to Renee Fleming to Chris Botti.  Popular songs as well as standard carols and more classical Chrismas music, all tied together with five improvisations on "Dona Nobis Pacem"  (Give us Peace).  A lovely gift to the ears.

Christmas Harp (no artist given!) - What could be more Christmasy than standard carols played by a harp?  I know!  From "What Child is This?"  to "Silent Night", it's the perfect thing for Christmas Eve.

Christmas (Michael Buble') - The 2011 addition to our collection.  We need more crooners.  Enough said.

Hope you're listening to your favorite sounds of the season,  too.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

My 12 Days of Christmas

Day 6 - Father Christmas

A gift from a long time friend, Father Christmas has had a place of honor in our home for years.  She painted several sets of Santas for her friends and family.  We are proud to have one of them.
Somehow he reminds me of the giving and not all the craziness of the season.  Clearly he's Father Christmas bring light, or "LIGHT" to the world.  Can't get much more clear than that.
PS:  Please see Anneke's note.  Turns out he's actually Sinterklaas - does that name sound a bit familiar?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

My 12 Days of Christmas

Day 5 - Oh, Tannenbaum!

Truly one of the big, big days of the season -
The 1st (and prettiest) White House ornament.
the day the tree is trimmed.  One can't have too many Christmas trees, altho I find myself limited to two at the moment - a tiny one in my office and the real one in the living room.  I want one close at hand so I can enjoy it all day long.We've collected ornaments forever.  There are tiny glass balls left from childhood, along with a felt bird (Girl Scouts in the 6th grade) and the purple Merry Christmas ball inherited from Dad.  There are ornaments collected from places we have traveled - a flamingo (Florida), Chinese kissing fish (San Francisco), a gourd (Pennsylvania), red pepper (N.M.) and a cut-out of Texas.

Some of these are as old as I am - horrors!
Many are handmade - a clothespin deer, copper stars, an angel made of nails, the tin star on top.  There's a collection of angels and one of Santas.  A dill pickle for luck and a teddy bear for fun.  Many are gifts from friends.  Each a reminder of some place or some one  - a part of our history.

One of a legion of Santas - mostly old fashioned.
Made in Florida from the scale of a Gar Fish - honest!
Peace on Earth, Good Will to Women.
I'd leave it up all year, but some folks in our house are against that!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

It's Monday ... There Must be Flowers in the House!

Well, there's a tree and a bit of Chrismas cheer on the mantle and on the table, and even on the sideboard, but there would not have been actual flowers except that my sweet boss sent me a dozen roses.  Guess she liked the Holiday Party!  Am planning a "real" arrangement for Christmas weekend, but this is the best I could do today.  Go join Jane's party and see what people with talent can do!

Artificial [duh!] fruit and berries in a natural wood bowl.  Festive, but not fussy.

Leftovers from the office party.  Might as well put them here ...
... and there.

A mixed dozen of red, pink and lavender plopped in the cut glass pitcher.  You can never go wrong with this. 

My 12 Days of Christmas

Day 4 - Shipping

Gathering all the pretty boxes and packing them in cartons, then anticipating the pleasure they will bring when they are opened Christmas morning.

How did all those packages fit into just four boxes?   
It's another high point of the season. 

Take good care of them, FedEx.  They have a long way to go to Georgia, Tennessee and New Mexico!