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Shepherds and Angels
Shepherds and Angels are forever a part of the Christmas story. But why? And what things can we learn from them? In this exploration of a different angle on the Nativity story we ask a lot of questions. The idea is not to cast doubt. It is to celebrate clear facts — surprising things about the shepherds and angels that you may not know.
In this merry episode we discuss the part that shepherds in particular played in the story. They were a curious choice for being key witnesses to the most heralded event in human history. Scholars do not agree about who they exactly were and what they may have known before that night of angelic manifestation. But there is a lesson to be learned by what they saw and how they reacted to it.
Angels too are an interesting element of the Christmas story. For many people, angels are a fact of everyday life. Why are there angels? What is their purpose? Why did so many involved in the story of Christmas see angels?
This is a celebration as well of beautiful Christmas music, including:
I Wonder as I Wander — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g1hMgD613Lo
God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yCoy7URHuY4
Angels from the Realms of Glory — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PrLoWt2tfqg
|Dec 07, 2020|
The Magic of Turkeys and Santa
In this episode we celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas together with a mix of old and new. Thanksgiving — that All-American holiday of festive foods married with historical debates — get a look through the lens of pandemic past.
We explore the Thanksgiving of 1918 and how it was the same and how it was different. This conversation comes as a backdrop to modern-day calls to abolish Thanksgiving by The New York Times and The Atlantic. While we agree some liberties have been taken with the history of Thanksgiving we have to take a real-world look at what Puritans and Native Americans really have to do with the Thanksgiving we really celebrate.
But highlighting this episode even more is the fact that Thanksgiving, as always, sets the Christmas stage and helps build the delicious anticipation we all get in Santa Claus.
Our merry little Thanksgiving Gobble Contest has yielded some festive results that we shared include the laughter of my 5 year old grandson who grabbed the microphone to tell me a Christmas tale that happened in my home just last Christmas. Mind you, I’ve never heard this story before — and it is, as all Santa stories are — a legendary thing.
And that led to the debut of our first edition of our reading of A Visit from St. Nicholas – the Merry Forums sponsored event we call the Twas the Night Before Christmas Read-a-thon.
This is an activity we have talked about for years that we have finally made a reality. And it is a little production sure to produce a smile and loads of Christmas spirit.
We also share some more new music. A new song from Robyn Scott titled I Saw Santa Last Night brings a party feel to this episode.
Title: I Saw Santa Last Night
Artist: Robyn Scott
Writers: Robyn Scott & Brian Dolph
Social Media Links
I Saw Santa Last Night – Links:
Apple Music: http://bit.ly/RS_Santa_
|Nov 26, 2020|
New Christmas Music 2020
New Christmas music in 2020 is like everything else related to 2020: very different.
In fact, we would say there is more heart to the music this year and nothing showcases that better than the good work of the artists and musicians whose songs we feature in this traditional episode of the Merry Little Podcast.
Each year we try to do this. To share new music of Christmas is to share Christmas better than almost anything else.
We purposely steer clear of the mainstream and the known in this episode to feature those emerging artists who give their all to Christmas in their art. That’s what makes this episode powerful and that’s what makes it fun.
Here is the new Christmas music we’re featuring this time around:
Home for the Holidays – Sudden Flying
When This is Over – Harper Denhard
I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day – Jim Brickman
Home for Christmas – Performed by Rachel Warren
Follow That Star – Joanna Jones
|Nov 16, 2020|
Let it Be Christmas
Let it Be Christmas – despite what 2020 has become. That is the theme and the message of this merry episode of the Merry Little Podcast that is filled with music.
We take a look back at our thoughts of Christmas just months ago and the predictions we made last spring about what this Christmas will be like. It’s here now — so how are we dealing with it?
We have some pretty serious issues, not the least of which is the unexpected mental toll this year has taken on many. Are you feeling it? Have you lost that loving feeling when it comes to Christmas?
Many have and we’re taking that topic head on. For some the thought to let it be Christmas is difficult to put the head around in a year like this. Where can we turn for inspiration?
We take a look back in history with two very different stories. We discuss George Washington’s Christmas at Valley Forge and how Christmas saved things for him when the Continental Congress could help him not at all. The lessons of General Washington are a ponderous thing for those of us struggling to find the Christmas we believe in.
We also tell the story of Archie Roosevelt, son of President Theodore Roosevelt. This one is a little more light-hearted but its lessons are the same: that we need and even crave the love, warmth and security of a Christmas well-celebrated and that we will go far to get it.
Christmas for many this year — and Thanksgiving too, for that matter – is one many are having to reach far for.
How is that done?
While we do not claim to have the answers we do have some suggestions. It is something we can work on together. And for many, it is something we can over come together.
Please join us at the Merry Forums of My Merry Christmas, where we have ideas of plenty about the virtual Christmas and the things we can do together to let it be Christmas.
|Nov 12, 2020|
Family History in Christmas
Family history in Christmas is something everyone has. In fact, the stories of family at Christmas can possibly be the most cherished family memories we possess.
In this merry episode of the Merry Little Podcast we take it to a very personal level when it comes to Christmas history as we discuss the sharing and retention of our family Christmas stories.
We have all been there when it comes to these things. We’ll sit around at or after the funeral of a loved one and we’ll tell their stories. Each life is unique, so these stories in simple and great ways carry supreme value not because they may be unusual but because they involved people we love.
How much more special is that when you combine the stories of family with the celebration of Christmas?
~ Family History is a Thing ~
The pursuit of family history is one of the most popular Internet hobbies online. FamilySearch.org claims more than 200 million visits a year as they continue to add billions of new records online of ancestral research value.
Across the globe as millions work to find their roots through hard data of names of people, places and dates of life transitions there is one component that can hardly been indexed and cataloged and searched online: personal stories.
I’m no different than anyone else. This episode is as much about creating a family record of a few of our simple Christmas stories as it is a means of creating a podcast for you, Merry Listeners. These podcasts, after all, are a personal archive me and some day, after I’m pushing up daisies, they will no doubt be of value to people who might call me their ancestor.
So this is an episode of personal history — of Christmas celebrated.
What can you do to preserve your family stories of Christmas? After all, not everyone has a podcast, right?
~ How to Get Family History in Christmas Recorded ~
Of course there are many ways. But the hardest part does not seem to be the creative effort it requires. It’s actually just the time and effort to just make a record.
Here are a few suggestions:
1. Use the season to create the record. When family is gathered “roll tape!”, as they say. Set up the video camera or flip on the phone and just start talking.
2. Give family history as a gift. It can be as simple as a frame picture or photo album to copies of an old journal. These personal gifts tend to not only be long-remembered and cherished but they also spur good discussion and memory sharing in families.
3. Involve the young and the old. Storytelling is an art that has never gone out of fashion. Add that element to your holiday meals and gatherings.
There are a billion ideas out there. But the honest truth is that once you share and create records they tend to take on a life of their own. We just need to get them started.
|Oct 25, 2020|
Classic Christmas Movies that Suck
Classic Christmas movies are those that get watched year after year. We all have our favorites. And we all have those that maybe we can do without.
In this merry episode we take on some truth-telling about some classic Christmas movies that everyone knows and most like but movies that nonetheless really suck. Is such a thing possible?
We think so and yes we go there.
Lest you think I’m just a Christmas movie Grinch consider that complaining about Christmas movies is something of an art on the Internet. There are a lot of people out there who cannot stand certain Christmas movies. I know it’s shocking.
When it comes to bad Christmas movies most publications play it safe and make lists of B-grade Christmas movies like this one.
Not us. We go there — to the Christmas big leagues. We’re talking genuine Grade-A top flight CLASSIC Christmas movies that suck.
It is an interesting thing to think about. Christmas movies are really like no other kind of movies. There will always be diversity of opinion when it comes to any movie, Christmas or otherwise. But like hanging stockings or drinking eggnog, there is a tradition of having to endure replays of the same bad Christmas “classics” year after year.
We note in this episode about the growing trend of Christmas podcasting and how many new podcasts are out there. The great majority of them pursue movies as their topic. But would any of them really take on this topic? Movies are a sacred cow of Christmas that we think needs some tipping.
For many of this old Christmas films we grew up with them. As kids, maybe we did not know they were bad.
I can recall seeing A Christmas Story with my family when I was a teenager. We all thought it was a great movie, especially because it was a movie we saw with my Dad in a theater – a rare event. Even more rare was that he enjoyed it so much. We thought he was taking us because it appealed to us. We were surprised — and I think he was surprised — at how much he laughed at it. Of course, my father was a child of the 1940s. It makes sense it would connect with him.
Imagine my shock years later when discussing that movie with a friend. She was a young school teacher at the time. When I brought the movie up she immediately frowned. “That’s a terrible movie,” she said. “No child should ever see on a screen an image of Santa sticking his boot in a child’s face.”
It never occurred to me that was a bad scene or that it would affect someone. But I saw her point.
Movies in general are things we will never agree on.
But Christmas movies, for whatever reason, seem to get a pass in many ways.
In this episode we take a look a Christmas movies that play every year that should have been forgotten long ago.
Will we bring up one of your favs?
Do be shy in commenting what you feel — that is what makes this discussion always so interesting.
|Oct 14, 2020|
10th Anniversary of the Merry Podcast
This special episode marks our 10th anniversary of the Merry Podcast. What better way to celebrate International Podcast Day?
Given the harshness of our times in 2020 we thought the best way to celebrate this milestone would be to take a look back at some of the best moments of the Christmas community online. In other words, we’re not making this episode about us – it’s about YOU!
If you’re down, weary, worried, concerned, fed-up, or depressed this episode is for you. You will smile. You may laugh a little. You could even shed a tear. But you’ll feel better. You WILL feel the Christmas Spirit.
In this episode we get another great conversation with Ballcoach, one of our cherished members of the Merry Forums of MyMerryChristmas.com. He delivers once again a great conversation that’s all Christmas – showcasing in no small measure just what Christmas community online means.
Then we take a look back at Merry Podcast history. The world has changed a lot in just a decade – and so has the Merry Podcast. We discuss some special podcast contributions that have come from our members, including a great Christmas memory surrounding one of the classic songs of Christmas.
And speaking of music, there’s plenty in this episode to enjoy that will uplift and inspire.
We take a look as well at the community efforts of Santa’s Sleigh – our coordinated little crowd-sourced outreach to folks in need.
Can it really be 10 years already?
Look at the Christmases we have had!
|Sep 30, 2020|
Scrooge is the most recognizable character in the history of Christmas, second only to Santa Claus. The mere mention of his name immediately brings to mind images that are both good and bad.
His story – A Christmas Carol – is known around the world, in multiple languages, and in nearly every corner of the world. Every year, it is a story told and retold on stages large and small. It is a story read and re-read by Christmas fans everywhere.
Charles Dickens did not invent Christmas but he did invite Scrooge, a difficult man who reflects all of us more than he contrasts with us. In fact, the long we study Ebenezer Scrooge the more we begin to see all that we share in common with him.
Who played him best? Was it Alastair Sim? Was it Michael Caine? Was it Patrick Stewart?
We found that the better the Jacob Marley, the better the Scrooge. In fact, we delve a little into the necessity of having the right Marley and how he makes Scrooge that much more interesting.
In this new episode of the Merry Little Podcast we examine Scrooge and the many performances given to us of Scrooge on film. We discuss his creation and just what his character means to those of love Christmas.
We are also introduced to the first new Christmas music of the 2020 season. You hear the first new offering from Jim Brickman, a great new Christmas original titled Winter Waltz:
We are also fortunate enough to have a sneak peek at a new album by Luke McMaster and his new song, Christmas Present:
|Sep 24, 2020|
The Victorian Christmas Part VI
Our series on the Victorian Christmas concludes with an in-depth look at the stuff of Christmas – the décor, the music, the food and the celebration.
We also get a good look at the fads, which include the runaway tradition of Christmas cards that, for some, got a bit out of hand. The dialogue, the poetry and the debates of Christmas cards are discussed as part of an exploration of the relationships between men and women – and they their gift giving differed during the late 19th century.
We also share the unforgotten classical Christmas music of the Santa Claus Christmas Symphony, a masterpiece written before Jingle Bells in the early 1850s and we explain why it hasn’t achieved the well-known status of other Christmas music of the time. You can hear this great piece of music via this video:
But what you might not know is why she could have posed the question in the first place. We explore the blow back that developed late in the 1890s not only to the idea of Santa Claus but also to the idea of the Christmas tree, Christmas decorating and holiday gift giving.
No discussion of this time would be complete without exploring the food of the time and we cover the big items of Christmas turkey, cookies, eggnog…and rum.
Images of Christmas during the 1880s and 1890s:
|Sep 01, 2020|
The Victorian Christmas, Part V
The Victorian Christmas is named after England’s Queen Victoria. Victoria very famously and quite unexpectedly became Queen around the age of 18 or so. She was young, pretty and different compared to England’s royalty of the past. Her coronation took the world by storm and was big news, especially in America.
She was an iconic figure during an expansive time. But did she really do anything for Christmas?
Modern historians on both sides of the Atlantic credit Victoria and her German husband, Prince Albert, for influencing Christmas in the 19th Century. Biography.com, Wikipedia, History.com, the BBC and Victoriana Magazine are all examples of credible publications making such claims.
In this shocking episode we have to debunk that and expose the truth that when it came to Christmas England’s Queen Victoria and Prince Albert actually contributed little.
Victoria’s story was pushed by an American woman’s magazine who used a London newspaper’s image of Victoria’s Christmas and changed it. The magazine “Americanized” the Royal family shown in the picture. Here are the pictures side-by-side:
Is this 19th century “fake news”? Can you spot the differences? Did the new image actually mean anything? How many people of 1850 actually saw the picture? And more importantly did the image inspire Americans to actually go out and bring Christmas trees into their home?
This episode explores what actually happened with the evolution of the Christmas tree in America – and what really drove it. We take a look at Christmas ornaments of the time — and how they differed between the UK and the US.
This episode tells the story of the Little Match Girl, the Holly and the Ivy, and the “rugged individualism” of American Christmas decorations and Christmas Eve traditions. Exposed as well is yet another version of the Christmas pickle story and just what stocking stuffers during the 19th century looked like.
And, back by popular demand, is another salute to the American Christmas tradition of pumpkin, including a classic American story of General Ulysses S. Grant that you just have to hear.
In all, this is a surprising episode of the Christmas stuff of the Victorian Christmas. And there’s more yet to come!
Sponsor of this episode:
|Aug 17, 2020|