Ithaca Bound: Favorites for Yuletide

During the Twelve Days of Christmas, these are my personal Yuletide favorites for listening, reading, speaking aloud, watching. Perhaps you may enjoy the challenge of making your own list.
Of all the fine actors I have seen portray Santa Claus, none has rivaled that of Edmund Gwenn, in the movie “Miracle on 34th Street.” He captured the spirit of the “jolly old elf” to perfection. Ia word, watching Gwenn be Santa Claus was enough to make you believe I never think of Santa without thinking od Edmund Gwenn.
One further thought, In the movie, when Santa is asked how old he is, he replies, “I’m as old as my gums, and a little older than my teeth.” I have uses that line many times since.
My favorite poem for the Nativity is Cristina Rossetti’s “In the Bleak Midwinter.” Written in response to a magazine’s request for a Christmas poem. Written by 1872, the poem was set to music by the English composer Gustav Holst in 1906. It is in that setting in which it is found in many church hymnals.
Leroy Anderson’s “Sleigh Ride” Originally written as an instrumental piece, the tune clearly called out for words, and they were quickly supplied by Mitchell Parish. Not specifically for the holidays, it so well captures the spirit of the season that it has become an annual favorite.
For a number of years, NBC used to air an annual presentation of Gian Carlo Mennotti’s chamber opera “Amahl and the Night Visitors.” While teaching in the Nashua schools, I performed with a community chamber opera group. One season, we performed this delightful piece, and I sang the role Melchior. Melchior is the oldest of the Night Visitors and is given one of its most richly-laden of its arias to sing. Listening to some of he greatest baritone voices of my lifetime sing this aria is one of the must-do’s of each Yuletide.
My favorite on-screen production of Charles Diclens’s “A Christmas Carol” is that of “Scrooge,” by Lesiie Bricusse and Anthony Newley. As the show nears its end, Scrooge has his change of heart and sings a song the words of which might give us all reason to pause for a moment of reflection
It’s called “I’ll BeginAgain,” and its first words are “I’ll begin again, I will build my life , . . . . “
More next time.
Ithaca Bound writes a weekly column for The Berlin Sun. Ithaca Bound is the pen name of Dick Conway. His email address is: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.