A Very Pandemic Christmas

Well, we’re working our way around the calendar. We’ve now had Easter ham nuggets at our own, quiet Easter tables surrounded by homemade sanitizer and either a mountain of or a lack of toilet paper, birthdays consisting of only people in our “bubbles,” masked and in open parks despite the weather, Halloween picking sanitized bags of candy off of deserted display tables, and we’re about to embark on whatever modified Thanksgiving we have planned amidst a fever-pitch panic of Covid cases, general unrest and uncertainty, and pandemic fatigue. When next week is over, we’ll be staring down the rest of the curve of the year with Christmas and New Year’s within turn-of-the-calendar-page distance. This is going to be a pandemic holiday. Don’t bother to hold out hope that there will be some sort of significant resolution in 2020. Just hunker down, folks. Cobble together yet another holiday from the ruins of 2020, shooting for a resemblance to the real thing but with acceptance that no, it will not be the same. It shouldn’t be the same, because we’re keeping ourselves and our family safe in the middle of an outbreak. I have heard that the Elf on the Shelf is immune to Covid, so there’s that.

Image from Amazon.com

For this cozy (I hope for you), quiet holiday season, I have compiled another list of books and movies to get you through. With kids on break and vacations that need to be spent at home and without the annual frenzy of work parties, ugly sweater competitions, Christmas concerts, and days spent rushing from movie theater to packed mall to restaurant, you might need something to fill the time and emotional space of the season. Perhaps the perfect book or movie (or ten and a binge) helps you to unwind and to enjoy more? They do, for me.

(BTW, I did a little looking at Hanukkah and Kwanzaa books, and they centered around educational picture books for children. I felt enough out of my depth to let other people make recommendations, though one day I may get around to reviewing some. Many of the books and movies that popped up on the list below, however, are not specific to Christmas as a sacred observation, but as a holiday season involving gift-giving, time with family, feasting, Santa Clause, gingerbread, twinkly lights, etc.: Christmas as it is celebrated as a secular-option holiday in America.)

As usual, I compiled these lists as a mash-up of recommendations from sites that I trust for that sort of thing. I have not (yet) read or watched them all.

CHRISTMAS/HOLIDAY SEASON READS

  • A Christmas Memory, Truman Capote
  • The Greatest Gift, Philip Van Doren Stern
  • A Christmas Story, Jean Shepherd
  • A Christmas Carol and Other Stories, Charles Dickens *
  • Hercule Poirot’s Christmas, Agatha Christie
  • Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
  • Afterward, Edith Wharton
  • Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte *
  • Mr. Dickens and His Carol, Samantha Silva
  • The Usual Santas, compilation
  • The Deal of a Lifetime, Frederik Backman
  • Winter Street, Elin Hildebrand
  • The Valancourt Book of Christmas Ghost Stories
  • Starry Night, Debbie Macomber
  • Hiddensee, Gregory Maguire
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, J.K. Rowling ***
  • Christmas In London, Anita Hughes
  • Bridget Jones’ Diary¸ Helen Fielding *
  • Comfort and Joy, Kristin Hannah
  • Christmas on the Island, Jenny Colgan
  • The Man Who Invented Christmas, Les Standiford
  • P.S. Your Cat Is Dead, James Kirkwood
  • “The Gift of the Magi,” O. Henry
  • One Day in December, Josie Silver
  • A Treasure of African American Christmas Stories, Bettye Collier-Thomas
  • Last Christmas in Paris, Gaynor and Webb
  • The Night Before Christmas, Nikolai Gogol
  • Royal Holiday¸ Jasmine Guilory
  • Celebrations, Maya Angelou
  • A Redbird Christmas, Fannie Flagg
  • Seven Days of Us, Francesca Hornak
  • My True Love Gave to Me, Stephanie Perkins
  • Let It Snow, Green, Johnson, and Myracle
  • Skipping Christmas, John Grisham
  • Holidays on Ice, David Sedaris
  • The Christmas Train, David Baldacci
  • Dash and Lilly’s Book of Dares, Cohn and Levithan
  • The Christmas Box¸ Richard Paul Evans
  • The Stupidest Angel, Christopher Moore
  • Silent Night, Stanley Weintraub
  • What Christmas as We Grow Older, Charles Dickens
  • The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus, Frank Baum
  • “Christmas Trees,” Robert Frost
  • “The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle,” Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  • The Chimes, Charles Dickens
  • Miracle on 34th Street, Valentine Davies

PICTURE BOOKS THROUGH MIDDLE GRADES

  • Greenglass House, Kate Milford
  • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Robert L. May
  • The Tailor of Gloucester, Beatrix Potter
  • The Polar Express, Chris VanAllsburg
  • The Nutcracker, E.T.A. Hoffman
  • Amazing Peace, Maya Angelou
  • Letters from Father Christmas, J.R.R. Tolkein
  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Dr. Seuss
  • The Night Before Christmas, Clement Clarke Moore
  • The Snow Queen, Hans Christian Andersen
  • A Child’s Christmas in Wales, Dylan Thomas
  • The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, Barbara Robinson
  • The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey, Susan Wojciechowski
  • The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, E.T.A. Hoffman
  • The Elves and the Shoemaker, The Brothers Grimm
  • The Steadfast Tin Soldier, Hans Christian Andersen and Marcia Brown
  • A Letter from Santa Claus, Mark Twain
  • The Fir Tree, Hans Christian Andersen and Bernadette Watts
  • Christmas Day in the Morning, Pearl S. Buck and Mark Beuhner
  • “The Little Match Girl,” Hans Christian Andersen
  • The Cricket on the Hearth, Charles Dickens
  • The Snowman, Raymond Briggs

RELIGIOUS (CHRISTIAN)

Image from Christian Book Distributors
  • The Case for Christmas, Lee Strobel
  • Waiting Here for You, Louie Giglio
  • On This Holy Night, compilation
  • Because of Bethlehem, Max Lucado
  • Christmas Playlist, Alastair Begg
  • Hidden Christmas, Timothy Keller
  • Why the Nativity?, Dr. David Jeremiah
  • The Greatest Gift, Ann Voskamp
  • The Christmas Miracle, Jack W. Hayford
  • The Dawning of Indestructible Joy, John Piper
  • ADVENT:
  • Celtic Daily Prayer, The Northumbria Community
  • Watch for the Light, Various
  • The Day Christ Was Born, Jim Bishop
  • Advent with Evelyn Underhill, Christopher Webber
  • Simply Wait, Pamela Hawkins

COOKBOOKS

Image from booksamillion.com
  • Hallmark Channel’s Countdown to Christmas
  • Christmas with Kim Joy, Kim Joy
  • Taste of Home Christmas
  • The Unofficial Hogwart’s Holiday Cookbook, Rita Mock Pike
  • Holiday Cookies, Elisabet der Nederlanden
  • The Official Downtown Abbey Christmas Cookbook, Regula Sewijn
  • Christmas Baking, Klynstra
  • Reindeer Food, Kayla Gallagher
  • Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, Garten, Stewart, et. Al
  • Jamie Oliver’s Christmas Cookbook, Jamie Oliver

CHRISTMAS/HOLIDAY MOVIES

Day after Thanksgiving: Miracle on 34th Street (1947)

  • Elf
  • A Christmas Story
  • Home Alone
  • The Muppet Christmas Carol
  • It’s a Wonderful Life
  • One Magic Christmas
  • Last Holiday
  • White Reindeer
  • Office Christmas Party
  • The Night Before
  • Jack Frost
  • Four Christmases
  • Batman Returns
  • Just Friends
  • Happy Christmas
  • The Holiday
  • Love Actually
  • Jingle All the Way
  • Prancer
  • Mixed Nuts
  • Deck the Halls
  • Christmas with the Kranks
  • The Family Stone
  • Metropolitan
  • It Happened on Fifth Avenue
  • Edward Scissorhands (1990) *** (but as a holiday movie? I dunno)
  • The Santa Clause
  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas
  • A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas
  • Die Hard
  • While You Were Sleeping
  • Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
  • The Shop Around the Corner
  • A Christmas Tale
  • Black Christmas
  • Eyes Wide Shut
  • Meet Me in Saint Louis
  • Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
  • A Charlie Brown Christmas
  • The Apartment
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas
  • A Christmas Carol (1951)
  • The Muppet Christmas Carol
  • Bad Santa
  • Miracle on 34th Street
  • Scrooged
  • White Christmas
  • National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
  • Anna and the Apocalypse ()
  • The Family Stone
  • Rise of the Guardians
  • Arthur Christmas
  • Bridget Jones’ Diary

There’s also a Christmas Carol movie marathon, mentioned HERE.

As for music, you’re own your own for now because there is just so MUCH of it. Maybe at some point I’ll share my list, which is a picky mashup of classics and obscurity. As for right now, I’m too busy talking to grandparents about gifts and making my October-to-January back-to-back series of to-do lists to work on it.

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