What You Don’t Know About Being Santa

What You Don’t Know About Being Santa

St. Nicholas Day comes and goes every December 6th with little notice. It is a shame that the Christmas season does not do more to honor the man who is the basis for Santa Claus. Once upon a time St. Nicholas was one of the most famous and revered people in the world. He did not become that way because he wildly gave gifts or bestowed upon people their every desire. Nicholas was far removed from the modern image of Santa, a character so abused by marketers and Hollywood he actually numbers as many enemies as friends. St. Nicholas was never a man who sought out the spotlight or wanted the attention. What makes that such a sad statement isRead more

Beautiful Messaging of Christmas Commercials

Beautiful Messaging of Christmas Commercials

What makes Christmas commercials so different than other commercials we see on television? It is like the fact they tell stories that inspire and leave the selling to mere suggestion. Once upon a time American marketers were great storytellers. The commercials of Christmas past brought us things like the Coke truck and images of snowy Americana. Those traditions have been revived and are celebrated internationally now. Case in point is this great ad, shot entirely in English, from Poland, which tells the story of one devoted grandfather learning English to spread a message of love in a funny and touching story beautifully shot: This commercial showcases the best of Christmas values. Show does this one: Some commercials are so wellRead more

The Story of O Holy Night

The Story of O Holy Night

O Holy Night is like the national anthem of Christmas songs. Hauntingly beautiful but so difficult to sing it is often presented a cringe-worthy performances by even the best of singers (Celine Dion is perhaps the best example of one who over-sings the song). Here is a new version, shown as much of the great music of today is as a tale beyond the music, from Gentri: O Holy Night is a Christmas song of French origin. In 1847, Placide Cappeau de Roquemaure was the commissioner of wines in a small French town. Known more for his poetry than his church attendance, it probably shocked the man when his parish priest asked him to pen a poem for Christmas mass.Read more

Tale of a Presidential Christmas Tree

Tale of a Presidential Christmas Tree

Christmas in 1902 was celebrated much as it is today. But the centerpiece of it all was the Christmas tree. Christmas trees were not always part of the American Christmas tradition. Christmas in America is well documented for decades before the American Revolution but Christmas trees did not enjoy wide spread popularity until well after the Civil War. Like many popular icons of the 19th century Christmas the tree was made popular by British Royals, who publicized their use of a Christmas tree indoors. German immigrants to the US brought their Christmas tree traditions with them but once magazines published the royal trend in holiday celebration it took off in American culture. With the advent of electricity and thus theRead more

Lessons from a Christmas with No Money

Lessons from a Christmas with No Money

The best Christmas we ever had was the Christmas when we had nothing. A series of events during a difficult year led to that best Christmas. In early April I was diagnosed with breast cancer. A rush of doctor visits, a surgery, and months of recovery led to an extended period of time away from my work. As Thanksgiving approached I was still too weak and sick to return to work. My husband was unexpectedly laid off from his job in July when the company he worked for was sold and operations were moved out of the country. We had worked and saved for years, so we were not hurting. But as the months passed with our situation stagnant withRead more

How Great Thou Art as Christmas Music

How Great Thou Art as Christmas Music

We continue to witness great songs of praise coming out as Christmas music this year. Below is a viral video from vocal band Home Free with their rendition of How Great Thou Art, on this year’s re-release of their Christmas album, Full of Cheer – The original Swedish text for “How Great Thou Art” was a poem entitled “O Store Gud” written in 1886 by a Swedish preacher, Carl Boberg, editor of the periodical Sanningsvittnet. Boberg’s inspiration for “How Great Thou Art” came from a visit to a beautiful country estate on the southeast coast of Sweden. He got caught in a midday thunderstorm with awe-inspiring moments of flashing violence, followed by a clear brilliant sun. Soon afterwards he heardRead more

This Christmas and Jingle Bells Mashup by Anthem Lights

This Christmas and Jingle Bells Mashup by Anthem Lights

Something old and something new…ish. The video below by Anthem Lights is a mashup of Jingle Bells (old) and This Christmas (newish). Surprisingly, it’s a good fit with this talented arrangement: Anthem Lights is a Christian pop group based in Nashville, Tennessee. They were formed in 2011, the year their first EP topped out at #42 on the charts. Anthem Lights can trace its roots back to the fall of 2007, when singer/songwriter Alan Powell joined forces with then aspiring solo artist Chad Graham. Both were living in Los Angeles at the time, to pen songs for Chad’s solo effort. But providentially, the more they wrote, the more it became clear that these powerful, harmonic songs were meant for aRead more

Songs of Praise as Christmas Music

Songs of Praise as Christmas Music

In the most recent episode of the Merry Podcast we discuss a trend in Christmas music that sees traditional songs of praise released on Christmas albums. Here is a great example of that in the latest video from Peter Hollens and his new Christmas album titled A Hollens Family Christmas features Amazing Grace with the vocal band Home Free: Peter’s new album is OUTSTANDING. But his inclusion of Amazing Grace on a Christmas album is important and interesting. Most ancient Christmas carols are songs of praise. Joy to the World, O Come All Ye Faithful and even Away in a Manger are examples of such songs. That is because the traditions of Christmas past anciently centered on telling the storyRead more

The Best Christmas Carol You Have Never Heard

The Best Christmas Carol You Have Never Heard

Some Christmas carols are so old it is hard to tell which is older — the lyrics or the tune. Below is a carol thought to be one of the oldest Christmas tunes ever. Few today know it well and it is presented here as something new and fresh to Christmas music fans. 500 years ago tunes were performed publicly only occasionally and, of course, there was no radio or television to play things over and over. Songs then were re-purposed for a variety of uses. The song What Child is This? is perhaps the most well known Christmas song that also reflects a different purpose for the tune in Greensleeves. The tune for the song below is so oldRead more

Perils of Playing Santa

Perils of Playing Santa

The cat-and-mouse game of hiding the Christmas presents begins as soon as a black Friday bargain is found. Whether you are hiding gifts from your significant other or your children the game can be intense. Take, for example, the year of the drum set. My then 10-year old son had his heart set on a drum set for Christmas. It was out of our realm of possibility until about two days before Christmas when a moving neighbor had to off-load his five-drum set due to a sudden move. The price was right but how to hide it for Christmas morning? Fortunately we had an easy answer. Parked on our driveway as a long travel trailer belonging to my sister andRead more