Made a list, checked it twice

A little over a year ago I published my “Christmas List,” a list of things one must see and do between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Or else let’s face it, Christmas isn’t really here.

There are TV specials and movies to watch, songs to hear, food and beverage to consume, and various other things to witness. Literally “observing” the holiday, as I often express it.

There were 50 things on the list.

In this unusual and challenging year I’m happy to say I missed only four of them. As of tomorrow it should be only three, as I do plan to attend a small, socially-distant “Christmas party” at (as reads list item #39) someone else’s house (preferably way nicer than your own). Unfortunately I will have to leave three items off this year’s list: #32 [travel down Broad Street (Virginia Route 7) in Falls Church]; #34 [walk through the “Winter Walk of Lights” at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens]; and #44 [the mall]. Whether for crowds or an unwillingness to travel, these things were just not happening.

But 47 accomplished? That’s something to be celebrated.

I’ll admit that some things this year were completed in modified form. For example, donating toys to charity this year happened virtually, and for “putting money in one of those red kettles,” well, luckily the Salvation Army now has its kettles online. What was once a Rite Aid in Sterling is now a Walgreens, and though I did complete the task with a trip to said Walgreens the show just wasn’t the same. So that one’s off the list now.

Which got me to thinking…

are there others I should add?

Eighteen as a matter of fact.

In no particular order…

Listen to Tony Bennett’s A Swingin’ Christmas in its entirety. Recorded with the Count Basie Big Band in 2008, proof that at 82, the man could still swing.

Listen to Ella Fitzgerald’s Ella Wishes You a Swinging Christmas. Recorded in 1960, it took nearly a half century for another Christmas album to swing as hard.

Make s’mores. Preferably outside, but inside if you must.

Have one of those Reece’s peanut butter “trees.”

Watch 1942’s Holiday Inn, the movie which originally introduced the song “White Christmas.”

Watch 1954’s White Christmas, the movie most people assume introduced that song.

Listen to Les Brown’s recording of “I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm.” The lyrics don’t even mention Christmas but it’s probably my favorite Christmas song.

Watch the Season 9 Christmas episode of Family Guy, “Road to the North Pole.” Family Guy actually has a bunch of Christmas episodes; this one’s the only one that’s an hour long. And it’s the best.

Treat yourself to a “grownup” egg nog.

Visit two adjacent shopping centers in Great Falls, Virginia. Counts as one item because they’re across the street from other. At the intersection of Georgetown Parkway and Walker Road you will find the world’s classiest Safeway (I know, it sounds like an oxy moron, just trust me), and then across Walker Road you have the Village Centre shopping mall. (Classy enough to warrant the British spelling of centre.) Drink in the holiday awesomeness of both shopping plazas.

South Park. “Mr. Hankey, the Christmas Poo.” Still hilarious 23 years later.

Stovetop popcorn. Whether you string it up or just eat it, this is a holiday must.

Hot chocolate. Duh.

Chips and dip. My only childhood memory of my father’s parents house is eating potato chips and sour cream and onion dip on Christmas Eve from a garish ’70s-era green chip-and-dip bowl set. In your recreation any bowl will do.

Read Mercer Mayer’s Merry Christmas Mom and Dad.

Watch the BBC broadcast of Raymond Briggs’ The Snowman. (One of those rare circumstances in which the movie is better than the book.) Double bonus if you watch the American version with an intro from that famous American, David Bowie!

Watch one of your old home movies filmed at Christmastime. Double bonus points if it’s on VHS.

Make a new home movie. Triple a million bonus points if you’re recording it on VHS. Minus a million points if you’re recording on your phone.

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About moc

My name is Mike O'Connell. I am 38 years old and live in Northern Virginia. I am a teacher, a musician, and an enthusiast of all things American.

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