Bloody Christmas, here again.
Let us raise a loving cup:
Peace on earth, goodwill to men,
And make them do the washing-up.
Archive for November, 2007
Christmas is descending upon us once again, and you know what that means: the pressure of popular culture, endlessly hammering one particular thing into your brain via magazines, television, and pretty much any commercial website you can shake a candy cane at.
No, I’m not referring to the pressure to buy things — that’s pretty easy to ignore. Rather, I’m referring to the constant niggling to “create traditions” for my family, especially for my kids. Make traditions! Start a new tradition! Gaaaah! And at least once every season, someone asks me if my family already has a special Christmas tradition — as if the standard ones (tree, stockings, gift exchange, Santa’s annual breaking-and-entering routine) somehow didn’t count, or weren’t enough.
To tell the truth, I did want to do something a little special an unique for the Christmas season this year, and I think I’ve found it: listening to the 1930s children’s radio program, The Cinnamon Bear on the way to school every morning.
As far as traditions go, it fulfills some of my favorite types of traditions: it’s pretty much effortless, can be done while driving, and doesn’t require me to use a hot glue gun. Plus, you just can’t get more Christmasy-old-timey than old-time radio. (Except for, maybe, Dickens.)
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the program, The Cinnamon Bear was a legendary radio broadcast that first aired in 1937. It was produced by the Transcription Company of America, with the goal of creating something whimsical — specifically, something similar to the Oz books and/or Alice in Wonderland. The series depicts the adventures of Jimmy and Judy Barton, twins who meet a talking teddy bear named Paddy O’Cinnamon in their attic. With Paddy’s help, the twins embark on a journey through the magical world of Maybeland in search of a silver star Christmas tree ornament. Whimsy, indeed — there’s a grand assortment of goofy characters in this show to satisfy any kid. There’s dozens silly animals that sound like they dropped out of a Bill Peet book, and in Episode Eight we meet the Candy Pirates.
Candy. Pirates. You heard me.
The Cinnamon Bear was aired with a fifteen minute segment for every day between Thanksgiving and Christmas, excepting Sundays. However, if you’re interested in starting now (or in a few days) it wouldn’t be too difficult to catch up. It makes for perfect going-to-school listening pleasure.
And a pleasure it is — good grief, Jimmy, Judy, and their ursal friend sound like they’re black-and-white. We’ve only listened to four episodes, and already I’ve counted about seven “gee willikers!” coming from Jimmy, and I love it. I love the fact that Paddy has “shoe-button eyes,” and I get to explain to my kids what shoe buttons are. Likewise, we had another impromptu history lesson after today’s episode (“The Inkadoos”) when our heroes are about to be thrown into an inkwell. Also, there was a mention of how ground beef, liverwurst, and onions are the ingredients of “a Dutch lunch.” Gee willikers, for a Luddite like me, it’s a bit of heaven.
The production values are also pretty high here — there’s a top-notch cast of radio actors (famous in their day), cheesy-good sound effects (they really like using slide whistles) and a passle of addictive little songs.
Naturally, every episode ends on a cliffhanger. Even my kids, who can’t remember a time before TV OnDemand, have a hard time turning off the iPod at the end of each morning’s broadcast. It’s hard to wait a whole day to find out what happens to Paddy and the twins, but that just makes each show a little bit more fun to savor. Besides, there’s no time like Christmastime to learn the pleasures of delayed gratification.
I must say that I’m impressed with myself for making this series of shopping posts and actual series. A series of, um, two so far, but still.
The latest goodie I’ve found comes from, of all places the Hanna Andersson website (or as I call it, “the Land’s End/IKEA crossbreed!”). But she’s soooo cute:
Note the patch on the mismatched sock. Love it, baby — although I think she would be perfect with tiny Pippi accessories, like strap-on scrubbing brushes for her feet, or a few dozen coffee mugs. A not-too bad bargain for only $18. Mmmm, makes me want to park a horse on my front porch and hide things in tree trunks for the kids next door.
There are Christmas carols emanating from every pore of every shop in my town. Ordinarily this would make me cranky, but this year I have to do 99% of my holiday shopping online. So it’s time to get crackin’.
For those of you who are in the same basket, I offer some Hot Hints for finding goodies for the kidlit-oriented peeps in your life. My rules for the ideal kidlit gift is that it must be 1. Pretty, and 2. Cheap. Which brings us to this goodness:
It’s the tortoise and the hare! And a whole bunch of what appear to be Starlight Mints with little flags on them! And the hare is wearing a ‘DO RAG! How much better can it get?
This was created by Tara Hogan, who sells her wares through a Etsy site called Ink & Wit. She’s got a whole series prints based on Aesop fables, and a 5″x7″ print (on 8.5″x11″ paper) will run you about $35. There’s some rather attractive stationery as well.
I’m back from the improbably exhausting road trip! I will briefly summarize the trip by listing the Foods of New England which we sampled:
- Deep fried whole clams: it’s like taking delicious and covering it in awesome
- Clam pizza: Not what you think; it’s full of cheesy garlicky goodness
- White Birch Beer: it tastes like liquid Necco wafers
- “Sweet Cream” flavored ice cream: tastes like brown butter frosting
- “Mystic Lighthouse Mint” ice cream: has tiny mint-filled chocolates in the shape of lighthouses, and you can pretend to be Godzilla while you eat them
We also paid multiple visits to the Danish Pastry House in Watertown, MA. They have frogs made of marzipan and mocha-filled chocolate cakes drenched in ganache. ‘Nuff said.
The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.
We are on our way to New York City, Boston, and New Haven, with possibly some unexpected detours to Philedelphia and Rhode Island. I originally had these brilliant plans of writing a whole bunch of reviews and such ahead of time so there would be current postings while I was gone, but . . . oh, really. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA.
Three children under the age of six, remember?
We’ll be back on Nov. 15, and perhaps I’ll be able to stumble to the computer some time after that and give y’all an update of the happenings. Until then, hasta la vista, compadres.