It’s a wicked December afternoon in New York City, and you can see the weather-induced frustration in every commuter’s eyes as he or she hustles and bustles through the morning people traffic on Seventh Avenue. Only this is no ordinary December morn. The sweat on Santa’s brow isn’t from that heavy bell he’s flailing around — it’s from the 70-degree heat.
We’re within mere weeks of the Holiday season — so much so that you can just taste those long Christmas break mornings spent sleeping in — and there’s no sign of even a snowflake in the air. Without the familiar nip of frost on my butt in mid-December, I was left wondering — why does it still feel like Christmas? That was far too simple to be a rhetorical question. It’s simple: the icons.
Surely, you’ve heard the terms “media-made” holiday or “Hallmark holiday” tossed around before, but now more than ever, I stop and think. I’m not sure what it is that set it off — the Macy’s windows decorated in the theme of a popular Christmas movie, “Miracle on 34th Street,” the images of Frosty the Snowman lifted straight from a favorite childhood television special, the Grinch sweaters and t-shirts, the line for the Radio City Christmas Spectacular; or Tim Curry and Patrick Stewart in “Christmas Carol.” If “media” were a man, maybe Ebeneezer Scrooge, Christmas would have been his greatest and most profitable innovation ever — more so than Las Vegas was for the mafia.
That’s as far as my preaching goes — merely a thought with little substance. In fact, I embrace this holiday wholeheartedly, commercial as it is. I’ll be the first in line to see the tree lighting in Rockefeller Square. I’ll drop more than a few dimes on toys at FAO Schwartz. I own each and every “Very Special Christmas” CD and I’m sure to venture into more than a few Christmas-themed movies — not to mention the countless hours I’ll spend lounging in front of 24-hour “Christmas Story” marathons. Even as I sit at my computer, I shudder to think how much money Harry Connick, Jr., Sting and the late Bing Crosby have made off of their Christmas-themed songs. Last I checked, “White Christmas” was one of, if not the best-selling album of all time.
So, in celebration — for is this not a season of celebration — of this media friendly holiday, I deliver a quick look at some of the angles by which we have handled the season and their highlights. Some Christmas offerings:
Silver bells on the silver screen — The movies
“Home Alone”: Arguably the funniest movie ever; it just so happens that this comic caper is Christmas-themed, which can never hurt.
“Christmas Story”: Replacing “A Wonderful Life” as the official Christmas movie seemed like a good thing ? for the first 48 hours in a row.
“National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”: Christmas and mental breakdown seems like such a natural pairing, doesn’t it? No, seriously.
Commercial Christmas — The TV commercials
McDonald’s of the late 80s: Christmas snow, ice skating children, animated woodland creatures and a clown on skates. How touching. Really.
Woody Allen in “The New York miracle, be a part of it”: In case you haven’t caught it yet, Woody zips around the Rockefeller Square ice rink — Christmas lights and trees in the background — in his “Bananas” gear and swoops in for a quick close-up of the old geezer.
Coca-Cola’s original polar bear Christmas commercial: Light, cute and technically superior for animation at the time.
And on the boob tube — The TV Specials
“Frosty the Snowman”: I just never understood how snow walked or talked and whatnot.
“The Grinch Who Stole Christmas”: Seuss’ spectacular Christmas cartoon puts its high-budget reincarnation to shame.
“The Simpsons,” Season 1
Better than Christmas carols — The songs
“Rockin’ around the Christmas Tree,” Peggy Lee: A rockabilly Christmas salute that will forever be tied to “Home Alone.”
“Santa Baby,” Madonna: Leave it up to Madonna to create the most sultry Christmas list of all. If only you had seen the unedited list ? (Jose Canseco, Dennis Rodman, Vanilla Ice).
“Christmas don’t be late,” Alvin and the Chipmunks: “We’ve been good, but we can’t last ? hurry Christmas, hurry fast.” Damn those spoiled Chipmunks!
Better yet ? — The Albums
Various Artists, Very Special Christmas 1: Like any sequel-ridden series, the first is always the best.
Harry Connick, Jr., When My Heart Finds Christmas: Very few people can properly handle a single Christmas song, let alone an entire album (see Destiny’s Child, N’SYNC, etc ? ). This man can.
Aaron Neville’s Soulful Christmas: Soulful, and that’s what Christmas is about, right?