Conifer and berries 64686097The countdown to Christmas continues apace. Each day from November 6th, How to Christmas has been offering some useful reminders and pertinent pointers in the build-up to the big day – along with festive prose and verse and a few recommendations to get you into the spirit of the season. Now we’re in December we can take it to the next level. It’s almost Christmas and the excitement is palpable.

December 1st – A Day To:

  • Place the wreath on your front door.

  • Decorate artificial Christmas trees.

  • Switch on outside Christmas lights.

  • Put ornaments and Advent crown in place.

  • Get better acquainted with Classic FM or Magic Radio.

  • (Scroll down for the day in detail)

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Watch:

“White Christmas” (1954): starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera Ellen. Irving Berlin classics in this film include “Blue Skies”, “Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep” and “Sisters”, as well as a couple of moving renditions of the title song. After the war, in which Phil Davis has saved Bob Wallace’s life, they team up to become a top showbiz double act. They help, then follow to Vermont, a sister act that are booked to perform for the holidays at Columbia Inn. There’s no snow, which means no custom and trouble for the owner of the inn – Davis and Wallace’s old army general. But the boys have a plan. (Movie Magic: Danny Kaye’s character Davis tries to tempt Bing Crosby’s character to Vermont, hoping he’ll fall for Betty Haynes – played by Rosemary Clooney – and free up some time for Kaye to “get a massage or something”. Bob Wallace says: “Miss Haynes, if you’re ever under a falling building and somebody runs up and offers to pick you up and carry you to safety, don’t think, don’t pause, don’t hesitate for a moment, just spit in his eye.” Miss Haynes replies: “What did that mean?” Wallace: “It means we’re going to Vermont.” Beautifully delivered..and so the fun begins.)

And as we’re into December – and as it’s Advent Sunday – celebrate with this…

“Christmas with the Kranks” (2004): starring Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis. Based on the John Grisham novel “Skipping Christmas”, this appealing American comedy sees Luther and Nora Krank opt to give the holiday season a miss. With their daughter Blair Krank away on Peace Corps duty, Mum and Dad decide to spend their usual chunk of Christmas cash on a cruise. Their neighbours aren’t impressed that the Kranks’ house is a festive-free zone. There are menacing carollers and relentless cries of “we want Frosty!” as the locals demand the appearance of a giant rooftop snowman. Then comes an unexpected call from Blair – and Christmas is back on. But how? (Movie Magic: When Luther Krank’s frosty heart melts and he insists his neighbours, one of whom is seriously ill, take a special gift.)

Ponder:

“Deep in the winter night, the family will come one by one, carrying great and small boxes, brilliant in all colours, ribboned in red and green, silver and gold, bright blue, placing them under me with the hands of their hearts, until all around me they are piled high, climbing up into my branches…the children in their pajamas and woollen slippers rub their sleeping eyes and stare at me in amazement. The mother with her hair hanging down her back smiles and glances here and there, and the father looks up and down at me, quiet and pleased…for I am the Christmas tree.” 

Fritz Peters (1913-1979), American novelist and memoirist

Listen:

“Gabriel’s Message” by The Sixteen & Harry Christophers;

“O Come, O Come Emmanuel” by Howard Goodall’s The Enchanted Voices;

“The Voice of the Angel Gabriel” by Wells Cathedral Choir & Matthew Owens.

Learn:

Did you know…the traditional colours of Advent are purple, pink and dark blue – not the greens, reds, silvers and golds more associated with Christmas?

The Day in Detail:

tree artificial 144061282Mrs. C says: The unconfined joy. It is the first Sunday of Advent. December the 1st. The excitement is coursing through every vein, tissue and sinew of my body.

Ed Elf: Whoa now, Mrs. C.

Mrs. C: I like to decorate two trees in my house every year – sometimes three. That’s one in the hall to welcome guests, one in the lounge and often a smaller one in the bedroom. The artificial tree is for my ample hall. And today’s the day it gets the full treatment. But first things first: I have purchased a fresh holly wreath for the front door.

Ed Elf: I hear holly at the front of the house is meant to scare off witches.

Mrs. C: Well, that’s a Christmas bonus my dear. I think it simply looks pretty, big red bow and all. Next I can begin placing freestanding Christmas ornaments around the house, including a selection of very tasteful carved and porcelain Santas.

Ed Elf: Well, that stands to reason – you being Mrs. C and all.

logoMrs. C: Today might be the day you get better acquainted with Classic FM. The all-classical music station is wonderful all year round, but it launches its festive programming today to the jingle: “Classic FM – the home of Christmas music.” Carols, Handel’s Messiah, Mr. Christmas himself John Rutter – it’s delightful. They only start with maybe one Christmas tune per half hour…but it builds through the month. There is a Classic FM app that allows you to play the station’s festive music all the time. Talking of which, there’s also Magic Radio in the UK, usually playing non-stop festive music through until Christmas.

Ed Elf: You’ve reminded me. TV channel Gold ramps up its Christmas schedule through December, with shows like “Porridge”, “The Vicar of Dibley” and “Only Fools and Horses”. That Rodney, he’s a right plonker. I adore Christmas Gold.

Mrs. C: Although I do admit to a soft spot for Dibley, my penchant is for TV films on the various cable or satellite movie channels. ‘Christmas 24’, ‘True Christmas’ and ‘Sony Movies’ are among the options. They’ve been going strong for weeks already. The films invariably make me cry at some point, but they almost always have happy endings. There’s more on ‘Sky Christmas’ and ‘Netflix’. Now then, happiness is something that Lights Christmas Street 7531711always accompanies the decorating of the Christmas tree. So let’s get started. Then it’s time for…

Ed Elf: Don’t tell me…don’t tell me. I’m suddenly all a quiver. It’s the big switch on, isn’t it?

Mrs. C: It is, indeed. Once the tree in the hall is decorated and once all the nutcrackers are in place…it is time to light up the outside of the house. Christmas is coming and the whole street will know it.

Ed Elf: Judging by the number of lights on the house, the man on the moon will know it, too.

Mrs. C: The switch-on, the tree decorating…no reason why it can’t be a social event. Make the tree trimming a team activity, with festive treats and drinks as rewards for the valued help. Ask family, friends and neighbours to join your household for the fun.

The first Sunday in Advent is upon us. Advent is such a special time. There is much excitement and anticipation in the air. In the Christian year, Advent is a time for the preparation of Christmas…for the coming of Jesus Christ. Advent wreaths are used to mark the passage of the season, with one candle to be lit for each of the four Sundays before Christmas. Remember the hanging Advent crown from Blue Peter, made of coat hangers and tinsel?

Ed Elf: Health and safety would have a field day with that nowadays…or should that be ‘elf and safety’?

Mrs. C: Blue Peter presenters always recommended using flameproof tinsel.

Ed Elf: That’s good of them: “The tinsel’s flameproof, kids – now here are some pointy pieces of wire and matches…go knock yourselves out.”

Mrs. C: Well, quite. It might be pleasant to tap into those childhood memories and put in place an Advent wreath or crown of your own.

So today’s the day to:

  • Put your Christmas wreath on the front door.
  • Place freestanding ornaments around the house, including nutcrackers, snowmen and Santas.
  • Decorate your artificial Christmas tree.
  • Get better acquainted with Classic FM as the all-classical UK station plays Christmas music…or Magic if you want more contemporary festive music on a non-stop basis.
  • Check out TV comedy channel Gold and the range of all-movie channels as they increase their Christmas programming.
  • Switch on the outside Christmas lights, perhaps inviting neighbours as well as family and friends to join the fun.
  • Light the first candle on your Advent crown.