Year 4 of Movies

Here we are in our fourth year of movie dates with my mom. This year we only managed 10 movies, or 9.5 if you’re my mom.

This is the full list.

January – LaLa Land, which we chose because of the hype. Big mistake. I should know better. It was terrible.

February – nothing, there was not a single movie out we wanted to see.

March – Logan, the final entry of Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine, and it was wonderful, we both loved it. We also saw Beauty and the Beast with the kids, which doesn’t count on our date tally, but we did see it.

April – Gifted, starring Chris Evans (you know him as Captain America), and this was amazing. Just loved it. Could have been my favorite of the year.

May – King Arthur. This was my weird pick, only because my mom likes Charlie Hunnam. Did not expect it to be good. Turns out it was great.

June – Wonder Woman. The first female helmed solo superhero film in either universe and it.was.perfect.

July – Spiderman: Homecoming. LOVED this movie. How many Spiderman films have there been? It’s a “nothing new under the sun” and yet, this blew us away.

August – we didn’t see anything this month.

September – American Assassin. This was a film adaptation of a book we both love. It was okay. Not bad, but not as good as we had hoped. (Without mom, but also in September, I saw Kingsman 2 with Lane and it was fantastic and I saw American Made with Kelly and it was AWFUL).

October – we didn’t see anything this month.

November – Kicked off the month with Thor:Ragnarok and this was easily the best of the Thor movies and very high up in the overall pantheon of the MCU. Then, because it came out, we saw Justice League. Mom got sick halfway through and had to leave, which is why she only gets 9.5 credit, but I saw the whole thing and it was okay. DCU is just not hitting them out of the park. Wonder Woman is their only winner.

December – we had it narrowed to two. We chose to see Pitch Perfect 3 over The Greatest Showman and it was a mistake. PP3 was a terrible entry in this beloved series of movies. They should have stopped at 2. So stupid and such a waste to go out on that note. In January, I went myself and saw Greatest Showman and it was AMAZING. I loved every second of it, so it was too bad to go out on a low note, but it happens. They will not all be winners.

As today is January 31, we will not be kicking off 2018 with a movie, but we will pick right back up in February for Year 5!

Year 3 of Movies

We did much better this year! We actually saw 12 movies, but we only saw them in nine months, so that’s a bit odd. Here’s the 2016 recap of our movies.

January – None, there was nothing out we wanted to see, so we started off 0 for 1.

February – We saw Deadpool, which we both really liked, it’s very different for the “superhero” genre and it is NOT FOR CHILDREN, but it is a good flick.

March – This month, we couldn’t find hardly anything we wanted to see, but I wanted to go see a movie ON my birthday, so I ended up picking London Has Fallen with Gerard Butler and Aaron Eckhart, which was better than expected. I do like movies about badass guys, apparently. Mom liked it too. Then, naturally, after my birthday, out came Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. We saw this and it was okay. DC has a long way to go if they are going to catch Marvel,  I vote for them sticking with TV, they’re pretty good at that.

April – In April, we wanted to see different movies, so instead of compromising we just saw both. I chose My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, which was awesome, easily as adorable as the first. Mom loved it, too. And Mom chose, Doris, which looked far better on spec than in execution. Neither of us liked this much, just okay.

May – Ah, May, the month in which I saw Captain America Civil War. If you know me at all, you know I’m a Cap fanatic, so for about three years I’d been waiting patiently for this movie, the follow up to Winter Soldier, one of the best superhero movies ever made, and, let me tell you, it did not disappoint. It is easily as good as Winter Soldier. Maybe 1% less good. I loved it. Mom loved it. Audiences worldwide loved it. And Captain America wins again. #TeamCap

Also released this month was the newest entry into the X-Men franchise, another favorite of mine, Apocalypse. This was another very good movie. It wasn’t perfect, but super solid. Mom is not into X-Men, but went along and she liked it as well.

June – Me Before You. I had read the book and made Mom read it, too. I don’t think it is integral, and I didn’t love the book, honestly. But I really liked the movie, it was very well executed, one of those rare instances when the movie wins. Mom agreed here.

July – Jason Bourne. Mom and I are both big Jason Bourne fans (again with the badass men thing) so this was a no brainer. It holds up. A very solid entry into this franchise.

August – Again with the superhero movies, we saw Suicide Squad. It was okay, not fantastic, but a fairly decent movie. Once again, DC just missed the mark. Mom had no prior knowledge of the characters or anything about the Suicide Squad and she enjoyed it, didn’t love it, but was entertained.

September – Bridget Jones Baby, um was there a world where we don’t go see this? No, there isn’t. And you know what? We loved it. Both of us. It was utterly charming and delightful. A fitting end to this story.

October – I’ve got nothing. I didn’t write anything down, and can’t remember. So either we saw nothing or saw something unremarkable, in which case, it doesn’t bear remarking.

November – Man, this was a good year for superhero films! We saw Doctor Strange. Another excellent entry from Marvel. This was extremely well done. I’m now very invested in the Doctor Strange universe.

December – we ran out of time and didn’t see anything this month, which turned out okay because that landed us at 12. Although Lane and I did go see Assassin’s Creed (see badass men, above, and also because, well, Michael Fassbender). We both liked it a great deal.

There you go. Another year of movies and we continue, already having completed January in 2017. I’ll let you know next year.

Year 2 of Movies

I just realized, yesterday, as we saw our first movie of the year (yep, already behind schedule) that I never posted the results from last year. So, without further ado:

2015:

January: Into the Woods & The Gambler

We knew February was out, so we decided to double up in January. Into the Woods we saw with Lane and I remember not really liking it. But that’s about it. The Gambler was Mark Wahlberg, whom I pretty much always enjoy….but I did not care for this.

February: None because of surgery for my mom.

March: Cinderella

This live action version of the story came out for my birthday and my niece wanted so desperately to see it. When it was over, I said, “that’s the best version of that story I’ve ever seen.” Truly.

April: None because there was nothing we wanted to see.

May: Avengers 2: Age of Ultron, Pitch Perfect 2.

It happened to work out that there were two I desperately wanted to see in May. May is always a good month for movies. Avengers 2? Um…awesome. Not perhaps as delightful as Avengers 1, but still very good. And PP2? Well I adored PP, and made my mom watch it so she could go see this with me. And she and I loved them both.

June: None because of another surgery.

July: Spy & Ant-Man

Well I think Ant-Man was a no-brainer. I see all movies in the MCU. This was enjoyable. I struggle, then and now, buying Paul Rudd as a superhero, but it was still good.

Spy was because we wanted to make up for June, so my mom suggested this. Normally, not something either of us would go see, but it was…terrific! Funny and smart. Loved it.

August: Trainwrecked* & Ricki and the Flash

Trainwrecked was not part of our plan, but my brother Zack wanted to see it. Definitely a movie I would NOT normally see. But it was actually better than expected. Surprising movie. Ricki and the Flash was our pick this month. I enjoyed it, but it is a very slow story.

September: None, again because of surgery.

October: The Intern

Possibly the biggest disappointment on the year. What an utterly stupid movie.

November: Spectre & White Christmas

The new James Bond. No brainer here. It was good. Perhaps not quite as good as the previous movies in the trilogy, but still very James Bond/Daniel Craigish. As a bonus this month, I took Mom to see White Christmas, one of our all-time favorite holiday classics, which was showing on the big screen. Now since it originally came out in 1954 when neither of us was born, we didn’t ever see it on the big screen, so we were super excited. And it did not disappoint. It was glorious on the big screen, and we sang along to the songs, as did most other people in the theater. Possibly my favorite thing I saw last year.

December: Sisters and The Good Dinosaur

We needed one last film for the year and chose extremely unwisely. Sisters is an atrociously awful film. Hated it. Wanted to leave. Luckily, my mom had planned to take my niece to see the latest Pixar release while she was off school. I crashed their date and we pretended this was our actual final film of the year. And in true Pixar fashion, this was adorable and sweet.

So, despite multiple surgeries screwing with our plan, we ended up seeing 14 movies in 12 months. Most were even pretty good. And the plan continues!

Thirty Five – Part III

This part was my celebration with Elena. She and I had very special plans. Back when I was in grad school, living by myself in DC, I met this girl who was obsessed with the show Veronica Mars. I had never seen it, but had an excess of time on my hands (I didn’t work while living in DC) so I checked it out. I quickly understood why she liked it so much. It’s a smart and savvy show. Unfortunately, it was cancelled, abruptly after the third season and left wide open with no actual conclusion. They always talked about one day doing a VM movie, but as the years passed….

Well, after a record setting kickstarter campaign, they funded it last year and released it to limited theaters just in time for my birthday this year. Last year, after the campaign, I added VM to my tv dates with Lane and she rushed to complete the series just in time for the movie release.

We had to go to an AMC theater to see it. There is one of those about 2 minutes from her house…Roseville, but I don’t like that theater and it is so expensive. I browsed online to find that the Coon Rapids AMC was offering discount tickets to the show, along with DreamLounger and reserved seating. Um, hallelujah? We bought tickets and I reserved two seats for us.

We decided to go to dinner at this place called Patricks? Billys? I seriously cannot remember the name of it. Anyway, it was in the city of Anoka and we were off on an adventure.

Oh, look at that. Apparently Billy’s. And now I remember thinking we should take a photo of ourselves just so I could remember that. I’m so smart.

And then it was off to Coon Rapids to the theater. And they had those crazy new touch screen pop dispensers. I honestly was stymied by it. I couldn’t figure out how to get pop from that machine. Luckily the girls using the machine next to me were kind enough to teach me. Crazy machines. So high tech. And slightly annoying to pay like $5 for a 16 oz pop that I have to serve myself. Basically paying for the cup.

And here we are in front of the theater marquee. It’s harder to read than I thought it would be.

Then in our dream loungers.

Yes, we’re pretending to sleep…and yes, she is peeking.

And the movie.

Sigh.

It was awesome. Can’t recall the last time I had so much fun at a movie. Knowing every person in there was a fan of the show…we all loved it already. It was a little like seeing a movie with all your friends…everyone in there. We were talking and chatting with strangers. Cheering for the movie to begin. Applauding when it was over. Crazy. And fun.

Elena and I (and many others) actually GASPED loudly when Logan first appeared on screen. It was priceless. A wonderful way to celebrate my birthday.

And then when we got back to her house, I got loads of gifts. A beautiful necklace that she MADE for me. This was weird, because as I was driving to her house that day, I was planning my outfit for my actual birthday and worrying because I didn’t think I had the right necklace for it. Then she gave me one…and it was perfect. And she had no idea what I was wearing. She’s a little psychic like that. She did the exact same thing a few years ago…got me the perfect necklace for a birthday outfit. How does she always know?

She also got me a wall hanging for my entry way that is so incredibly perfect I couldn’t have picked better myself. And beautiful decorative plates that still need a home, I’m working on that. And black lentils…which was just funny. But the best was she filled the bottoms of the gift bags with candy. I never thought of that, but what a great way to make a gift extra special.

It was a terrific and memorable way to continue ringing in my birthday.

 

If I Only Had a Brain

Happy Halloween!

“I could while away the hours, conferring with the flowers, consulting with the rain. And my head I’d be scratching while my thoughts were busy hatching if I only had a brain. I’d unravel every riddle, for every individdle, in trouble or in pain. With the thoughts I’d be thinkin’ I could be another Lincoln if I only had a brain.

Oh I, could tell you why, the ocean’s near the shore, and then I’d sit and think some more.

I’d not be just a nuffin, my head all full of stuffin’ my heart all full of pain. I could dance and be merry I could be a dingaderry if I only had a brain!”

And, yes, for those who were wondering, I do know all the lyrics to the song and did not have to look them up, and yes, I DO sing the song while wearing this costume!photo

 

That’s me, at work (closest thing I could find to a corn stalk!). And of course, the incredible Ray Bolger as the Scarecrow, in the movie.

And here’s a lovely picture of my sign in the library.
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 I made this costume back in 2003, a decade ago. Which is also the last time I wore it. We had a costume contest at work that year (at Awada’s) and the whole staff dressed up. I won! Supposedly we’re having a costume contest here, today, we’ll see how it goes. I’m surprised and happy that it still fits, though I apparently forgot how uncomfortable it is! (Straw is itchy and poky…)

More photos to come from trick-or-treating tonight, but for now, have a safe and fun Halloween. Even if you have to be at work all day.

L-where’s my picture?!?

Happy Halloween!

Day of Fun

Last Saturday, my sister needed a babysitter. I said I’d take her for the day. Usually I call my mom to come hang with us, but I really wanted a day of just the two of us hanging out.

Our first item on the agenda was for me to fix the Christmas tree, a strand of lights had burnt out. For her, it was to walk around my house and find everything that could be turned on and to turn it on.

After a while, she got dressed and we went to breakfast. Denny’s. I so rarely eat breakfast and almost never go out for breakfast, it was a real treat for me.

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And, evidently, for her.

Once we finished eating, we headed out to the Conservatory to smell some flowers and take some pictures. I’d already talked to her about letting me take pictures and she agreed to stop and smile and look at the camera while smiling. I was so excited. I took tons of pictures of her and with her and we just explored.

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My new phone wallpaper.

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So cute!

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One of my favorites. Sticking out her tongue is her newest thing when getting her picture taken….so we did one on purpose and she loved it.

Since it was also a really nice day outside we went out to see the animals. Most are indoors this time of year, but the arctic fox and the buffalo and the reindeer were outside.

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I said, “Arionna, what are those?” “Reindeew” she replied. I yelled at that one in front.

“Hey, Dasher!”

No reaction.

“Hey, Dancer!”

No reaction.

I was fully prepapred to say them all, but Arionna said, “It’s Rudolph.”

“Hey, Rudolph!”

And he turned his head and looked right at us. No kidding. I got so excited and said to Arionna, “you were right, it really IS Rudolph!” And she said, “Why is he taking a nap?” And I told her it was so he could rest up because he had to fly to everyone’s house on Christmas and bring presents, even her.

It was probably my favorite part of the day.

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She’s pretty into cheesy faces these days. Tell her to say cheese and you get that cheesy smile that all little kids do about this age.

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And even with the cheesy smile, that’s still a darn cute photo.

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As is that. My sister said she was so happy I fixed her hair. Not much cuter than curly pigtails in my book.

We also made time to check out the koi pond.
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Those suckers were nuts.
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This dude wanted to eat my camera string.

A very nice woman offered to take our picture together. Arionna doesn’t do strangers. Which is why I have five of these:
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Ah well, it was worth trying.

After the koi, she was looking for fish in every water we passed.
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We also saw a poisonous tree frog…in a  cage. Normally I wouldn’t care except:
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That picture turned out kind of amazing, so I am including it.

But, at the end of the day, we used my self timer and managed to get my new favorite photo.
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Love, love, love it. And Arionna liked doing pictures on the self timer, so I’ll remember that for next time.

Finally, as we were headed home, she was playing peek-a-boo behind skinny trees. She’d poke her head out and yell PEEK! and I knew I had to try to capture that on film.

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Hello, happiest girl in town.

It was such a fun day and I’m so pleased to have all these amazing pictures to help us remember it. Finally, when we got back home, I popped in a movie for her and she chose to watch The Wizard of Oz, one of my all-time favorites. We watched the whole thing and she just loved it. LOVED it. She even borrowed it to watch at home because she loved it so much. Another wonderful thing I’ve shared with her.

It was a Christmas present to me, spending the day with her.

 

My Favorite Christmas Movies

This is the last of my favorite things. (At least of the Christmas variety, I love making lists, so I will definitely be doing more in the future). Now we’re talking Christmas movies. Truth be told, if you thought I liked books at Christmastime; prepare to be blown away. I’m a cinephile, but only when it comes to holiday-themed movies.

When I used to live with my parents and, you know, had cable, I would just turn on the Hallmark channel and watch whatever horrible, recycled, holiday drama was showing. It did not matter what the plot was, as long as it was a sappy Christmas movie. I’ve seen tons. There is just something about them.

As time passes, I’ve developed favorites, because that’s how I roll. And there are certain movies I watch year after year because it just doesn’t seem like the holidays without them. Don’t get me wrong I still watch my sappy Hallmark and ABC family movies (last year I bought multipacks 6 movies in 1 and 4 movies in 1 at $4 each – that is 10 movies for $8, what a bargain!)

Without further ado, here are my favorite Christmas movies.

1. White Christmas. Since I was a girl. Which may seem odd, but I simply love this movie. I know all the songs and the dialogue and it doesn’t matter. It makes me happy to be able to sing Sisters, sisters, there were never such devoted sisters…. My favorite scene, boy there are a lot, but probably when Phil Davis (Danny Kaye) explains to Bob Wallace (Bing Crosby) that he is always shoving girls at him because he wants him to get married have 9 kids. “And if you only spend 5 minutes a day with each one, that is 45 minutes, I could go get a massage!”

2. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. I actually referenced this one on the holiday songs list. This movie was a tv special in 1964. It has shown annually since then, still to this day. I bought it on DVD a few years ago and a good thing. Kids who visit me have shown a tendency to want to see this, no matter the time of year. I love it when Rudolph, wearing a fake nose that makes him sound like he has a cold, says “She thinks I’m cute, she thinks I’m cuuuute!” and flies for the first time.

3. The Family Stone. I saw this in the theater with my mom, Elena, and I think my sister. I thought it was okay. Then the next year I rented it, I don’t know why, and pretty much loved it. Then the next it was on tv. After that, I bought it and I watch it every Christmas. Often more than once. It’s crazy and unrealistic, but so heartwarming and it feels like a real family. My favorite part is when Meredith (Sarah Jessica Parker), who is meeting the family for the first time, leaves the room, Ben (Luke Wilson) says, “Don’t dilly-dally pretty lady, we’re all going to be down here talking about you.”

4. Love Actually. Possibly the greatest romantic comedy every made, IMO. And the fact that it is set at Christmastime just gives me an excuse to watch it every year. Not only to I love the stories (almost all, the Colin story of going to Wisconsin and getting laid is less than impressive) but the way they all come together in the end, interconnected  It’s just beautiful. My favorite scene? Hard one. Toss up between Hugh Grant dancing after telling off Billy Bob Thornton and Colin Firth proposing in seriously bad Portuguese.

5. The Santa Clause. I love this movie. I even like the cheesy sequels. It is such a cute story and the kid who plays the son is beyond adorable. The transformation scenes where Tim Allen is turning into Santa Claus are so funny. My favorite scene is where he goes to his son’s soccer game and the kids just know he’s Santa and suddenly, there’s a line of kids wanting to sit on his lap.

6. Bridget Jones’ Diary. Not actually a Christmas movie, but it starts and ends at Christmastime, one year apart. I’ve seen it, and the sequel (which is awful, but I watch it anyway) dozens of times. I watch it year round, but I especially love it at Christmas. My favorite scene is when Mark (Colin Firth) tells Bridget (Renee Zellweger) “I don’t think you’re an idiot at all. I mean, there are elements of the ridiculous about you. Your mother’s pretty interesting. And you really are an appallingly bad public speaker. And, um, you tend to let whatever’s in your head come out of your mouth without much consideration of the consequences… But the thing is, um, what I’m trying to say, very inarticulately, is that, um, in fact, perhaps despite appearances, I like you, very much. Just as you are.”

7. The Polar Express. My mom bought this for me a couple Christmases ago, because I had never seen it. Then she promptly absconded it for the children. And they love it so much, it’s hard to complain. But it is just a beautiful story that makes me feel Christmassy. Honestly, the only scene I don’t like is the Hot Chocolate scene. Otherwise, can they all be tied for my favorite?

And, while I hate stopping a list at non-listy numbers (7? Instead of 5? Or 10?) I’m going to, because that is all I have for true annual favorites. However, there are several others that I thoroughly enjoy. I don’t watch them regularly, but if I stumble across them this time of year, you better believe I’ll be watching them.

Honorable mentions, in no particular order.

Elf – Ah, Buddy. You are so dratted charming. Even when you eat spaghetti with maple syrup and candy, I can’t get enough. I actually own this, too, but it is another my mother has claimed for the kiddos.

Four Christmases – A newer one. Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaughn are so funny in this, the Taboo scene cracks me up.

Family Man – This would honestly probably be on the list above, if I owned it on DVD.

Serendipity – My mother’s favorite romantic comedy, it is a cute, if unbelievable story. And who doesn’t like John Cusack?

Home Alone – Who doesn’t like this goofy movie? I bought it for Simon for this Christmas.

Miracle on 34th Street – which I actually used to own, on VHS, and did make the regular rotation, but somewhere along the way, it got bounced, either version is fine, but I’m partial to the newer, with Dylan McDermott, mostly because Mara Wilson is the cutest thing in the world.

It’s a Wonderful Life – the ultimate Christmas classic, some would say. I like it, but it is not my favorite.

A Christmas Carol – Almost any version will do. I like the Jim Carrey version from a few years ago, but I could have done without the 3D.

And lastly, here are a few films that many would be surprised are not on my Christmas movie list.

A Christmas Story. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Scrooged. Die Hard. (Seriously? I looked at a couple lists to make sure I wasn’t missing any, Die Hard was on tons of them. Yes, ok, it takes place in December, but what on earth is Christmassy about that movie? Men. )

There you have it folks. The music, books, and movies that make my holiday season complete. Hopefully you found something new to enjoy. If anyone out there wanted to shoot some of their favorites into the comments, I love hearing other people’s lists!

Happy holiday season!

My Favorite Christmas Songs

Wanna guess what this post will be about?

Cheese.

Ha! Not cheese. Though I might write a cheese post someday, that day is not today. I asked one of my favorite bloggers to write a list of her favorite holiday tunes, because I love hearing what people listen to and what version moves them. Then I thought, why don’t *I* write one?

The problem, of course, is my OCD. Not including the CDs at my mom’s house, my iTunes holiday selection is over 200 songs. I’ve “condensed” them down to an ultimate selection, on one playlist. It is 94 songs.

I’m NOT going to do 94 songs, but it will be several. I’ll try to link to YouTube vids of the exact version, but in case I can’t, visit iTunes. Laid before you, in all its glory, are my favorite Christmas songs.

1. White Christmas. The Drifters. This is probably the most unusual song on the list, because it is a funked out version of a classic song. The original classic had always been one of my all-time favorites, yet somehow got bumped by the cover – so that should tell you how enjoyable this is.

2. I’ll Be Home For Christmas. Rascal Flatts. I’ll tell you the truth, I’m a huge country fan, but generally speaking, I don’t like country versions of Christmas songs, they just don’t mesh well. There are exceptions, and this is one. For one, these guys can actually sing. For two, they DO sing, this is an a capella version. A-MAZ-ING.

3. Peace On Earth/Little Drummer Boy. Bing Crosby and David Bowie. The full version of this, complete with spoken intro, is my true favorite (and that is what I linked to), it makes me laugh before gearing up to an amazing medley/duet. Plus, I have an insane crush on Bing Crosby (especially weird as he died before I was born) and this is NOT the last time he’ll make my list.

4. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/We Three Kings. Barenaked Ladies and Sarah McLachlan. Have you heard this? It’s fantastic. Cheery and upbeat, with a fresh, pop sound, but still Christmassy and traditional at the same time.

5. Baby, It’s Cold Outside. Tough one. The original is Dean Martin and Doris Day. It’s classic and timeless. Then a few years back, this little film called, Elf, introduced me to a fantastic new version featuring Zooey Deschanel and Leon Redbone. However, my favorite version is by the country band, Lady Antebellum. Incredible. I know, that’s two country versions in the top five.

6. O Holy Night. John Tesh and the Choirs of Christmas. This is an unusual ranking, because this is my all-time favorite Christmas song. But, I am not ranking songs, I’m ranking versions. This is my favorite version of this song. I know it’s John Tesh, but the choir singing just makes this one. (Youtube doesn’t have this one, but you can preview it on iTunes).

7. Christmas Canon. Trans Siberian Orchestra (henceforth referred to as TSO). TSO is one of the ultimates of Christmas music. This is a variation of Pachelbel’s Canon in D, jazzed up for the holidays, I love it.

8. Christmas Eve Sarajevo. TSO. See? I told you they’d come up again. For years, this was my Christmas ringtone. I still kind of miss it, though I do enjoy my new one. But this is just a classic holiday sound, if you listen, I promise you’ll recognize it, even if you didn’t know what it was called. (Also, the video is one of those Christmas lights set to music videos, pretty cool if you’ve never seen one.)

9. Thanksgiving. George Winston. Yes, it’s called Thanksgiving. No, it isn’t really a Christmas song, but I listen to it on Thanksgiving and it kicks off the holiday season for me. It is an original piano composition and it is starkly beautiful.

***EDIT

I actually started this post last year, in 2011. I never got around to finishing it in time for it to matter for the holidays, so I held onto it for this year. Above this edit it is exactly as I began it one year ago. Including that awesome cheese joke. I didn’t change a thing. ***

10. Silent Night. Boyz II Men. There is an a capella version of this song that I am in love with. Aside from the cheesiness of this band, they can actually sing. They harmonize beautifully.

11. Belleau Wood. Garth Brooks. Another country song! But not really. This is a touching song about WWII and it makes me cry every time.

12. White Christmas. Bing Crosby. Because, well, that voice. It’s classic.

13. The Night Before Christmas. Carly Simon. This is a beautiful and not that well-known of a song. I just love it and Carly’s voice is perfect for it. This is the original.

14. A Snowflake Fell (and it Felt Like a Kiss). Glasvegas. Easily the weirdest song on the list. It was a free download I got years ago, back when Starbucks still did that. They are a Scottish band, and sound it. It’s an original song, and it makes me so happy to hear it. (Also, kind of surprised that this is on YouTube, but John Tesh is not).

15. O Holy Night. Collin Raye. I struggled to limit the number of times this song appeared on the list. A non-country country version of my favorite holiday song.

16. Same Old Lang Syne. Dan Folgelberg. This isn’t really a Christmas song, but for some reason they only play it around the holidays. It’s a great story song, kind of sad, but still very sweet. And it somehow feels Christmassy to me. Perhaps after including on my playlist year after year.

17. Carol of the Bells. John Tesh. This is a pretty awesome album, to be honest. But it is only of the only versions of this song I’ve found where they sing all the words, correctly. (Youtube doesn’t have this one either, but you can preview it on iTunes – The “A Family Christmas” version).

18. O Come All Ye Faithful. Nat King Cole. List wouldn’t be complete without him, right? When I was a kid, I used to try to memorize all the verses of Christmas carols in church. This one was harder because it is often sung in Latin. This version, NKC sings the first verse only, but once in English and once in Latin. It’s awesome.

19. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. Judy Garland. In keeping with my traditional songs and versions, I’ll plunk this down here. It’s a quintessential Christmas song. I can’t sing like her, but I always sing along. When I’m alone.

20. Sleigh Ride. Johnny Mathis. This song is so upbeat and happy. I like to sing it because there are so many words and verses and it’s just fun. The classic version.

21. Have a Holly Jolly Christmas. Burl Ives. Another classic. This one opens the legendary Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer television special that’s been on since the 60’s. I watch it year after year and this song always brings me to that moment. (Video is from the movie)

22. Happy Xmas/The War is Over. John Lennon. I enjoy this holiday song, when I don’t think too hard about the politics behind it. I’m not a fan of mixing those concepts together, but this song endures and is pleasing anyway.

23. Silent Night. Josh Groban. I had to limit my versions of this song as well. I have dozens, literally. But this one is beautiful. This man’s voice is custom made for Christmas Carols.

24. I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm. Dean Martin. Another lesser known holiday tune, but it’s peppy and cheerful, with the smooth stylings of Deano, how can you really go wrong?

25. Please Come Home For Christmas. The Eagles. I was so torn here. Bon Jovi did a cover of this song and it’s pretty similar and equally great. But, since it was so tough to decide, I went with the original version.

Okay, there you go. My top 25 favorite versions of Christmas songs. It’s pretty diverse, ranging from instrumental to rock to country to Motown, but I like that. It is pretty representative of my music during the rest of the year as well. Hopefully you found at least one new gem to listen to this holiday season.

Stay tuned for my favorite Christmas movies and books!

Visual

I’ve been talking a lot lately about starting this new library. If you’re on my email list, you might have gotten the plea to come visit during opening week.

However, if you can’t visit (or just haven’t yet) how about a tour?

One of my volunteers and her husband did this for us. It’s a virtual tour of the library.

Also, for those who haven’t yet seen the media storm:

Here is a link to the Star Tribune article (and yes, that is a photo of me – and also, that is my car parked on the street in front of the library.)

Here is a link to the (more recent) Pioneer Press article

That article from the Pioneer Press has been picked up nationally by the Sacramento Bee and the Watertown (SD) Public Opinion. I’ve heard rumors of it in other areas, but none have been confirmed.

That article, by the way, ran on the front page. Not the front page of one of the sections, but the headline article to the whole paper. It was very exciting for us all.

And an article from the Stillwater Gazette is here.

We are officially open for business these days, so thing are ticking off smoothly. Well, smoothly might be a gross exaggeration, but at least we’re open.

Next stop is our official Grand Opening ceremony. Any chance that anyone knows a local celebrity who will come?