Some Festive Favourites
It’s the time of year when various weekend supplements and radio shows invite people on to give lists of their favourite festive books or films or music. I’m always curious to see if there is anything I haven’t come across before. This week before Christmas is often a busy one for people as they try to get finished up in work and make preparations for travelling, or for receiving guests or family coming home for Christmas. It’s also a week when many people feel isolated and alone, weighed down with their burdens.
It might, however, be a week in which people have a little time, so I thought I would share in this week’s blog some festive favourites in terms of movies and music and online experiences. If you get the chance, you might enjoy some of these in the coming days and they might bring some Christmas cheer.
We don’t get to see or listen to all of these each year, but they are all worth checking out if you get the opportunity.
I’m going to start with a few movies. The Muppets Christmas Carol is a take on Charles Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’. Michael Caine is marvellous as Scrooge, the music is wonderful and it quite often accompanies the putting up of the Christmas tree in the Pierce household.
It’s a wonderful Life is a timeless Christmas classic made in 1946 as James Stewart plays George Bailey, a man who has given up on his personal dreams to help others in the community. He reaches a very low point on Christmas Eve and needs to be reminded of how much difference he has made.
Love Actually comes with a little bit of a health warning, as it’s one that has some scenes and language unsuitable for children. It’s a series of stories exploring love in the run up to Christmas and there are many memorable scenes including the Prime Minister’s dance after a press conference with the American president and a very dramatic wedding proposal in a Portuguese restaurant.
Elf is a movie I had heard much about but only got to see for the first time a few weeks ago. It explores what it’s like for a human being to grow up with the elves in the North Pole and then go to New York in search of his real father and try to save Christmas in a complex family situation.
The Bishop’s Wife is a cautionary tale to all clerics who get so embroiled in their work and ministry that they neglect their families. It’s about a Bishop who is so focussed on building a cathedral that he neglects his wife. It takes an angelic visitation from the marvellous James Stewart to help him see what’s truly important in the run up to Christmas.
Home Alone is a lively comedy about a young boy who defends his Chicago home from burglars after his family accidentally leave him behind on their Christmas trip to Paris.
When it comes to music, it’s hard to beat the crooners at Christmas. Frank Sinatra’s Christmas Album is right up there. There are lots of festive favourites and some Christmas Carols and it holds nostalgic memories. I remember buying the CD (do you remember those??!) when on honeymoon in Vienna after hearing it in a record shop.
Our other absolute favourite in this house was a stocking filler some years ago for the lovely Mrs. Pierce. It was recorded by Ruth Jennings and her late husband, Andrew Thompson, and called A Swinging Christmas. I’m not sure it’s available anymore but, if you can get your hands on it, it’s a magical, beautiful thing.
Aled’s Christmas Gift is a selection of Christmas carols and traditional songs sung by the popular Welsh singer and radio and television presenter, Aled Jones. His memorable duet for Children in Need with the late Terry Wogan is included on this album.
If you like your Christmas Carols with a contemporary twist, Chris Tomlin’s ‘Adore’ is a powerful collection I received as a gift some years ago. I love Midnight Clear (love song) and ‘A Christmas Alleluia’ and the ‘It’s Christmas’ medley.
At this time of year, many people like to attend live music events, but many are, understandably, cautious given the recent news about the latest variant of Coronavirus and the increase in numbers of infections.
A couple of alternatives if you can access online is The New Irish Arts Christmas praise concert at the Waterfront Hall. It was streamed when the concert took place last Friday and Saturday night. We couldn’t go, but I bought a streaming ticket which means we can watch it anytime up to 10th January. The New Irish Arts Orchestra is an exceptionally talented group of musicians and singers and they try to proclaim the Christian faith through their music and performances. If you go to www.newirisharts.com I think those livestream tickets are still available.
We felt very privileged to manage this year to hold some special services in the church building, which we couldn’t do last year.
If you go to www.stfinnians.org you will find our Advent carol service, some very memorable and inspiring interviews in the midweek Advent services as people share why faith is important to them, and last Sunday’s service of 9 Lessons & Carols.
The blog will be taking a break next week, but can I say Happy Christmas, thanks for reading throughout the year and look forward to speaking again soon.
Much love to everyone,
Listen to the latest episode of ‘Bitesize Chunks of Faith’