Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Memorable Christmas Performances

How about that? I managed to get some form of memory in my blog post title to go along with my upcoming Feb. Intrigue, Circumstantial Memories. But that's not really what my post is all about.

To counter Tracy’s bah humbug, albeit very funny, posts about the worst Christmas songs ever, I thought I’d open the discussion to the best Christmas performances ever. You’ll come to see that I mean “performances” in a very loose way.

I think my favorite performance of the Christmas season is The Nutcracker ballet. I grew up in northern California, and my dad took me and my sisters to see The Nutcracker performed by the San Francisco Ballet at the War Memorial Opera House several times. I loved it – the colors, the costumes, the ginormous Christmas tree, the music! Now that I live in southern California, I still try to catch performances of The Nutcracker here and there. I have two boys, and I took them to see it last year. Despite several smirks and sniggers about men in tights, I think they liked it. They were already familiar with the music since I play it a lot during the Christmas season – I even break out in dance now and then – talk about smirks and sniggers!

Another Christmas performance I enjoy during the season is the Glory of Christmas at the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, replete with live animals and angels flying above on wires. The music is wonderful and the Crystal Cathedral itself is amazing (picture on the right).

On a much smaller scale, my older son’s middle school choir (he insists he’s only in it for the easy A and all the girls – at least there are no tights involved) performed at a church along with the high school choir. Since I used to be in performing choir in high school, it brought back fond memories. It was also a sing-along. The words to some of the Christmas carols were projected on a screen, so I was in heaven singing carols in between the choirs’ performances.

OK, so that’s music and dance. There are tons of great Christmas movies and TV shows. I watched one of my favorite Christmas movies the other day – Love Actually. If you haven’t seen it, it’s made up of about ten different stories about couples and wannabe couples during Christmas. My favorites are the one with Hugh Grant as the Prime Minister and the story with Colin Firth as a jilted lover, who heads to the south of France to write after the break-up with his girlfriend (he writes murder mysteries!). The scene where the Prime Minister is going door to door on Christmas Eve in a “dodgy” part of town looking for a former employee is classic Hugh Grant. And when the Colin Firth character returns to find his housekeeper at a restaurant with her family and almost the entire town following him it is both hilarious and heart-warming – brings tears to my eyes every time. I also enjoyed Fred Claus last year and Elf and all the oldies.

I don’t often see one of my favorite Christmas TV specials from when I was a kid. It’s A Christmas Carol, but it’s the cartoon version with Mr. Magoo as Scrooge. It was scary and funny and made quite an impression on me when I was a kid. Please tell me someone else remembers that version!

The best Christmas show ever though has to be the one I performed on my own. I think I was about 11 or 12, and I played a few Christmas songs on my flute, recited "‘Twas the Night Before Christmas," and sang some Christmas carols. I performed in the living room of our house for my family…and I charged them something like a dollar each for admission! One of my sisters refused to pay because she wasn’t interested in seeing the show, but my dad paid for her and made her watch. LOL It was very dramatic as I performed in front of the lighted Christmas tree. Hmm, I wonder if my siblings remember that and if it ranks among their favorite Christmas performances ever.

So what are some of your favorite performances for the season? Mine pretty much range from the ridiculous to the sublime.

Don’t forget, I’ll choose one poster to receive an autographed copy of either The Stranger and I or A Doctor-Nurse Encounter or if you want to wait until Feb., you can receive a copy of Circumstantial Memories, or heck, if you're looking for a red hot Christmas you can request one of my Mia Varano titles.
Happy Holidays!

Carol Ericson


  1. I agree about Love Actually. That is one of my favorite movies to watch for Christmas. Elf is fun, too. I have already watched Elf three times this month because they have shown it so many times on television.

  2. I like watching most of the Christmas cartoons that have been on but some of my favorites would have to be Charlie Brown Christmas and The Grinch That Stole Christmas. One movie that I haven't seen was Home Alone, I like watching that around Christmas time.

  3. Raven, I also love the beginning and ending of Love Actually with all the people at Heathrow hugging and kissing! I think there was only one story that didn't have a happily ever after.

    Tiffany, the Christmas cartoons are so fun. I haven't seen as many this year - maybe because my boys are older and aren't watching them as much.

  4. Carol, One of my favorite movies is Love Actually. I swear, I have to hold my sides laughing when Hugh Grant is knocking on every door looking for the girl he loves.

    I remember Mr. Magoo as Scrooge, a very scary version for a cartoon. I also love Scrooged with Bill Murray.

  5. The San Francisco Ballet's Nutcracker is being shown on PBS this year. It's great. Even my boys (who don't like such things) were enthralled.

    And I have the DVD of the Mr. Magoo Christmas Carol. It's fabulous as ever. I'm sure you can find it online if not in stores, Carol. It really is as good as you thought when you were a kid.

    One of my new favorites is A Colbert Christmas. It's been a family favorite every year since 2008. ;) It's similar to Pee Wee's Christmas in tone. Another classic and very warped Christmas show.

    And speaking of Christmas specials, I recently watched one of Andy Williams' old Christmas specials. The music. The sweaters. The slightly hokey dance numbers. Those old variety show specials feel like Christmas to me.

  6. Jill, isn't that a great scene? I love it when the kids demand that he sing Christmas carols and his driver/bodyguard chimes in with that booming baritone!

    Ann, I love the S.F. Ballet's version. I've seen many others, but that's the best. OK, I'm glad others remember the Mr. Magoo Christmas Carol. I'm going to try to find it because I think my boys would love it. Oh, and yes, I remember the Andy Williams specials (and the sweaters!). My mom loved AW - I think he must've been Italian too. And remember he always used to have the Osmond Brothers on?

  7. I always catch "A Christmas Story" on tv when they have the 24 hr. marathon. I heard a lot of great things about "A Colbert Christmas." They rerun it often on Comedy Central so I'll probably see it soon.

  8. I always enjoyed watching my daughter when she was in her school chorus and had holiday concerts. On television I enjoy watching The Grinch (the animated version).

  9. Jane, I've never heard of A Colbert Christmas - will have to check it out.

    Maureen, Even though my boys aren't very animated singers, I love those kids' holiday concerts.

  10. We are lucky enough to have an inside ice rink here where I live as we have a semipro ice hockey team and one year we had professionals skating in a program called "Christmas on Ice".

  11. Funny, I just commented on another blog about how much I love the movie Love Actually. *laughs*

    I did enjoy Stephen Colbert's wacky special, A Colbert Christmas.

    My favorite Christmas movie is still the original The Bishop's Wife, starring Cary Grant, David Niven, and Loretta Young. So wonderful!!

    We watched another I find charming this year. The Family Man starring Nic Cage. This one is a twist on Scrooge, as a wealthy exec finds himself in another probability experiencing a life he could never have imagined. It's pretty sweet and I loved it all over again.

    Great post!


  12. I always try and catch the movie A Christmas Carol, the one featuring Alistair Sim, that one is my fav version and of course How the Grinch stole Christmas, the animated film with the voice of Boris Karloff. There are several others I try and catch every year but these are my favs.

  13. My favorite Christmas movie is Miracle on 34th Street.

  14. Ellen, thanks for the reminder. We also have an indoor ice rink where the L.A. Kings practice. They have public ice skating there and a Christmas show every year, which I've never seen.

    Chiron, great holiday film suggestions! Thanks for dropping by.

    wstridgerunner, I'd forgotten about the Boris Karloff version of Grinch. Those oldies are wonderful.

    Estella, I haven't seen Miracle on 34th Street for a while - so many Christmas movies, so little time!

  15. One of my favorites is National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, love Chevy Chase!

  16. I always watch a Christmas Story every year on TV. One year my nephew played Ralphie in a play in a town near here. It was so cute.
    The Holiday is one of my favorite Christmas movies.

  17. tetewa, I don't know if I've ever seen LP's Christmas Vacation, but I love the one where they go to Europe. LOL

    Virginia, I liked The Holiday too - loved that scene when Cameron stops the taxi and runs back to Jude in the snow and he'd been crying - awwww.

  18. My favorite holiday movie is Wizard of Oz. Nothing like dropping a house on a wicked witch to start the season off with a bang.

  19. Thank you. There is so much to love about Christmas. My favorite movie and music has to be White Christmas.