Warning: The links on this blog might take you back to a slower, mellower, some say happier place. Take time this weekend to enjoy the music and videos on this post, and share some of the others you might find while memory surfing, by posting them in "Comments."
Stephen Colbert may be younger than me -- but he certainly shares the same holiday memories when it comes to the annual Christmas TV specials.
In case you've been scurrying around too much to tune in, the host of Comedy Central's The Colbert Report did a Christmas special straight-to-DVD this year that's being hailed as an instant holiday classic. And while satirically I put Colbert's special on-par with the Pee Wee's Playhouse Christmas Special -- it's how Colbert conjures up memories of Christmas specials past that I found so, well, charming.
Being a card-carrying member of the TV generation, many of my holiday memories can be trace back to TV -- I guess because there wasn't much else to do on a cold winter's night in rural Idaho. This time of year, my sister and I would carefully scan the TV Guide searching for annual viewing pleasures like A Charlie Brown Christmas, Rudolph, The Grinch, Miracle on 34th Street (the black and white version please), and White Christmas ("Snow, snow.....").
And we adored the variety show specials, like the annual Andy
Williams Christmas special. You remember: Andy, with then-wife Claudine Longet (before the Spider Sabitch scandal) looking out a frosted window singing Silent Night, with their children snuggled nearby in bed. It was on shows like these that you got to watch The Osmonds grow up, and see vocal groups like Percy Faith and the New Christy Minstrels and The King Sisters.
Holiday variety specials were famous for their unusual duet pairings. There's the classic pairing of Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra singing White Christmas from 1957 (again with the frosted window thing-which you won't see because Bristol Productions has "disallowed" the use of this video on YouTube). But I particularly remember the 1977 Bing Crosby Christmas special, and a Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy duet Bing performed with David Bowie.
Fast forward to 2008 and Stephen Colbert, who paired himself with Willie Nelson, John Legend, Elvis Costello and Jon Stewart to celebrate such holiday traditions at nutmeg, war, and marijuana in what a Wired reviewer called a "deliriously strange holiday special." But with imitation as the finest form of flattery, Colbert follows the blueprint of Andy and Bing by creating a holiday special featuring a weird story line and lots of ugly sweaters.
I'm bringing all this up - because tonight our family plans to stop hustling and bustling around, curl up on the couch together, and watch A Charlie Brown Christmas and Grinch together. And while this is far from an old fashioned Christmas...it is the stuff of shared memories.
Besides, isn't there anyone who can tell me what Christmas is all about?