A scene from the traditional Kalle Anka (Donald Duck) cartoon viewed in Sweden every Christmas eve.
By HAP MANSFIELD
Whatever your holiday traditions are, we wish you a jolly Christmas full of good cheer and cookies and candy and roast turkey or beef or goose or tofurkey, et cetera. Everyone has their own traditions, and we hope yours is merry and bright.
There are some pretty interesting Christmas holiday traditions around the world, but we think one of the most unusual might be the 48-year-old Swedish practice of watching Donald Duck on Christmas Eve. This is not a joke. It has become a genuine part of the Swedish holidays to watch a 1961 Disney special that features Donald Duck, or in Swedish, Kalle Anka. Friends who have spent Christmas there confirm that the whole country practically shuts down while the program is on.
At our house, it was “White Christmas” that was the traditional movie we watched, and we’ll wager there are plenty of folks who have the same tradition with “Miracle on 34th Street” or “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
What is interesting to note is that the television has become part of holiday traditions at all, albeit mostly for watching movies. The tube has sort of taken the place of the old-time tradition of reading aloud.
We would like to suggest that reading a story aloud is pretty fun, especially if all family members take a turn at it. The most appropriate reading is probably the story of Christmas in the gospels.
However, Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” is a fairly short work, and it’s enormously fun to act out the characters. Other suggestions for Christmas reading include “Old Christmas,” by Washington Irving, “A Child’s Christmas in Wales,” by Dylan Thomas, Dr. Seuss’ classic tale of the Grinch, O. Henry’s “The Gift of the Magi,” and Gene Shepard’s “A Christmas Story.”
A more contemporary and extraordinary book to read aloud might be “Flight of the Reindeer: The True Story of Santa Claus and his Christmas Mission,” by Robert Sullivan, which features cameo appearances by George Bush, Sr., and NBC weather guy Al Roker. If your family are born actors, “The Man Who Came To Dinner,” the witty play by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart, is great fun to read.
We’re not saying you can’t watch Donald Duck on Christmas Eve. We’re just saying that it’s important to remember that we can all entertain ourselves, and a bad reading aloud of some classic tale is worlds better than a second rate made-for-TV movie full of celebrities who cannot act their way out of a wet paper bag.
This weekend, by the way, is the most dreaded one in retail. No matter how hectic the pre-Christmas rush is, the post Christmas returns are ten times worse. We suggest you cut those retail workers a little slack or, even better, just keep the darn present. It genuinely is the thought that counts.
There aren’t a lot of events to rush out to after Christmas, but this is San Marcos, so there is always music.
Friday, December 25
You say no one would have any entertainment for Christmas night? How wrong you are. Triple Crown (206 North Edward Gary) has had live music every day for the past 13 years without missing a beat. For those who want to scrub the sound of tinkling jingle bells and soaring string renditions of Christmas carols, Triple Crown presents a triple dose of bands determined to play their own kind of music.
The Organics play a high-flying progressive rock, Van Sanchez has a thunkier experimental sound (yes, thunkier — we’re making up a new term) and Keelphish meander through the metal. You probably won’t hear any of these bands covering “Silver Bells” or “O Holy Night.”
Saturday, December 26
If you aren’t too stuffed full of holiday fudge and brie en croute, it might be a nice evening to wander over to the Trail of Lights (1101 FM 2325) and see the lovely lighted displays. Spread over six acres, it’s a great way to work off that last half dozen cookies you ate at grandma’s.
Chad Thomas and the Crazy Kings play crazy hip rockabilly with classic bravado. They are always fun to hear and they’ll be at Riley’s Tavern tonight at 8:30 p.m.
Scott Biram, appearing at Triple Crown, is a one-man band, a pioneer, a true individual and the musical equivalent of an exorcism. He’ll knock your old blue devils out. Heck, they’ll run out. He’s a force of nature. The music starts at 10 p.m.
Sunday, December 27
The Trail of Lights at the EmilyAnn Theatre is only open for a few more days, so you’d best get moving if you want to see it. Should be pretty cold outside, so walking around out doors can clear your head for the truncated work week about to start.
If your heart is filled with song, the mics are open at Triple Crown and Riley’s.
The Cowboys are playing the Redskins tonight at 7 p.m. on NBC, and hope springs eternal since they beat the Saints last week.
“The Sound of Music” has become a holiday tradition of sorts, and it’s on ABC at 7 p.m. Another traditional holiday offering, “The Wizard of Oz,” is on TNT tonight. For change, you could always mute the sound and play Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of Moon” for the soundtrack, like everybody did in 1995. Remember that? Your kids might get a kick out of it.
Or you could read the L. Frank Baum classic aloud.