Saturday, December 22, 2012

Guilty Pleasures & Mixtapes: The Christmas Edition

Okay, so I’m a little behind on my Christmas movie watching. (Translation: I’ve watched no Christmas movies yet.) But I’ve got high hopes for this weekend somewhere in between baking, writing, and delivering Christmas cheer to our next door neighbors. The thing about our neighbors is they usually return the favor by insisting we visit a while and sample some of their homemade Strufellas and Limoncello.

Let me just say this about that, because if you’re not Italian or from New York, you will likely have no idea what either one of those things are. Strufella (or to be correct by saying the plural Struffoli in Italian) are fried pieces of dough, shaped like balls and dipped in honey with sprinkles drizzled on them. They are traditionally served at Christmastime. Limoncello is a lemon flavored liqueur that involves 100 proof vodka – or at least my neighbor’s does. Need I say more?

So assuming I’m not plastered before noon, I’ll be starting my (albeit very limited) Christmas movie watching bonanza, which brings me to – guilty pleasures.

While most people go with the traditional It’s a Wonderful Life, or A Christmas Story, or even Christmas Vacation, oh no, not I. I have to go with at least a couple of choices to make you snicker and/or roll your eyes. But hey, I’m a secure kind of gal (ha!), so here’s what I’ll be watching:

Mixed Nuts - a veritable who’s who of every comedic star on the planet tossed together in a plot that involves a suicide prevention hotline and a serial killer on the loose at Christmas. And if you don’t blink, you’ll even see Jon Stewart on roller-skates. Seriously, you’ve gotta watch this one if you haven’t seen it.

The next one is a real eye-roller – Ebbie. Susan Lucci stars in this female twist on Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. It is truly awful – and I enjoy every minute of it. Have never figured out why.

And my #1 guilty pleasure is: Love Actually. Well written, beautifully acted, stellar cast, great music. I laugh, I cry. I love it.

Now for the mixtape part.

For starters, do I even need to explain what a “mixtape” is for anyone too young to know?

Picture this, boys and girls: Back in the day when dinosaurs ruled the earth, before global warming, when we trudged 3 miles uphill in a foot and a half of snow to go to school, we had these things called cassette tapes and record albums. Oddly enough, you couldn’t buy just one song you liked on an album. You had to buy the whole darn thing! And so, in that totally uncivilized, pre-iTunes world, we recorded the songs we liked either off our records, complete with crackles and tape hiss, or from the radio, frequently with our favorite DJ’s intro, just for good measure. But the beauty of it was that we customized these little puppies for all occasions, even gave them as gifts, especially and particularly when we were in love.

So in the spirit of those bygone days, I thought it might be fun to list some of my favorite tracks from different CD’s just to create my own little Christmas “mixtape,” if you will. Sure, I could call it an iTunes Playlist, but mixtape gives me the warm fuzzies, and it is Christmas, after all. So here are a handful of my favorites…

“Merry Christmas Darling” – The Carpenters Christmas Portrait
“Hark, the Herald Angels Sing” – Amy Grant A Christmas Album
“O Come, O Come Emmanuel” – Makky Kaylor Glad Tidings
“Mary, Did You Know?” – Kathy Mattea Good News
“Take a Walk through Bethlehem” – Trisha Yearwood Sweetest Gift
“O Holy Night” – Blue Sky Riders (single)
“My Grown Up Christmas List” – BethAnne Clayton Remember
“River” – James Taylor At Christmas
“Same Old Lang Syne” – Dan Fogelberg Greatest Hits
“What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve” – Harry Connick, Jr. When My Heart Finds Christmas

And if you still want to buy a whole album, I highly recommend Unforgotten Christmas, a stunning instrumental (piano) album by Christopher Finkelmeyer that is both soul-soothing and truly moving at the same time.

So there you have it. What are your favorite Christmas movies and recordings?

Enjoy these and thanks for stopping by!

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