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

Kenzie Nimmo Releases Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

Kenzie Nimmo Releases Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

Kenzie Nimmo kicks off the rush of new Christmas music videos with this minimal and stirring version of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. Take a listen: Singer-songwriter Kenzie Nimmo is well known for her cover songs which she posts to her enormously popular Vine account and highly subscribed YouTube channel as well. She released her viral video, “Cool Kids,” when she had only 1,900 followers. She grew up participating in musical theater and many other musical activities. She went to school for music at BYU where she met Harris Heller, another music student with whom she started working on originals and YouTube videos. A year and a half later, they got married and started a music business together.

Real Onion Dip

Real Onion Dip

The staple of all dip standards when it comes to year round entertain is the timeless combination of Lipton’s Onion Soup Mix with sour cream. Have that and your dips will be a hit. But what if you want an onion dip with a little zing…a little surprise shot of freshness, a dip that makes folks grab another chip and ask, “what’s in this stuff?” The rumor about the Lipton dip is that it was devised in the 50s and proves so popular as part of holiday entertaining that more of Lipton’s product ends up on chips and not really in soup bowls. So if you’re lazy and just need a quick dip, by all means go traditional…and processed. IfRead more

History of the Tradition of Elves

History of the Tradition of Elves

Lost in the romance, fantasy and some would say mystery and myth of Christmas is the concept of elves. Most folks today think of Santa’s helpers, often in the form of little people, who work at the North Pole busily making toys for good children everywhere. But elves in that vein are a relative recent invention, stemming from 19th century minds full of fantasy as the modern character of Santa Claus was developed in the Americas. Elves have their origins deeply staked in ancient mythology and their history, unlike St. Nicholas, is completely lacking any relation to deity or the divine. In fact, most elves with ancient pedigrees in Scandinavian folklore are downright naughty, if not outright evil and nasty.Read more

Mr. Dog’s Christmas at Hollow Tree Inn

Mr. Dog’s Christmas at Hollow Tree Inn

As a boy one of my secret adventures was to scour the bookshelves at my grandmother’s house for books I could not find anywhere else. Grandma and I were a match made in heaven – I was a bookworm and she was a school teacher. I read not only from her vast collection of Reader’s Digest and Saturday Evening Post but I also greatly enjoyed her collection of children’s books that dated back to her own childhood. Among her collection was a book that contained stories of “Mr. Dog” and other characters set in Hollow Tree. So when a passionate publisher recently reached out for our take on a book titled “Mr. Dog’s Christmas at the Hollow Tree Inn” somethingRead more