Merry Hip-Hop Christmas Motherf#cK3R$!

There’s a famous record store in California called Ameoba Records that is known for its extensive music and DVD collection. The one in Hollywood happens to be near my movie theater of choice, so when I was killing some time before going to said movie theater recently, I walked around Ameoba and stumbled into the holiday music section. The collections isn’t as large compared to all the other sections in the store, but the fact that they have to divide it up into genre and not just by artists should tell you that this wasn’t a normal Trans Siberian Orchestra and Vince Garabaldi Trio situation. No, Ameoba had an entire Hip-Hop and R&B holiday music section which I immediately scoured through. Did I expect Whitney Houston? Sure. Destiny’s Child? OK. But did I ever think this particular CD even existed?photo-dec-08-6-42-13-pmphoto-dec-08-6-42-18-pm

Short answer: nope. Absolutely not. You’re telling me a TWO CD compilation featuring what seems to be a line-up of stars who peaked in 2005 recorded Christmas specific tracks for an album that has cover art made with Microsoft Word Art is for sale?! Because I’m a cheapo, I swiftly snapped these pix and noted to look it up on Spotify later. And boy or boy did it turn out to be gold indeed. The very first line of the entire album is said by Cam’Ron (of Hey Ma fame), and he yells out, “Merry Christmas motherfuckers!” Honestly, how can you stop there. I had to listen to the entire thing. You can stream the entire album here, but I’m selecting a few standout “favorites” from this gem of an album to spread the holiday cheer. Enjoy, bitchez!

Jingle Bells, Shotgun Shells by Onyx

Right off the bat, Onyx declares he hates Christmas, which for a Christmas album is a pretty bold move. Or gangster move, if you will. In fact, the entire song is a gangster rap song, except with a few key Christmas phrases thrown in there.

Other key lyrics: “Fuck Christmas, fuck all holidays/I’m the grinch bitch, got a new hot plate”… “Jingle Bells, Shotgun shells, n***az get shot every day, hey!”

“Deck the Halls with weed and Henny (*in the background* Black Santa!)… Y’all really think Santa tryna come out to the ‘hood? Santa ain’t comin’ out here. This is Oakland. Santa ain’t tryna get shot” – Deck the Halls by Luniz

 Christmas Treez by Baby Bash

Spoiler alert kids – “Christmas Treez” is code word for weed. But the gag is that the song’s not even really about smoking weed. It’s about fucking bitches. While high. That’s right. Because nothing says, “welcome baby Jesus” like the phrase “pearl necklace”. They just referenced Netflix and apparently this is a new release. A 2016 RELEASE. I AM SHOCKED.

Other key lyrics: “She give me that XXX from Texas/A blessed bitch/Over the next bitch/Man eat her for breakfast.”

It’s a real shock to the system when R&B group Az Yet starts singing Angels We Have Heard on High in all earnestness.

Chingy’s Christmas by Chingy

Who knew the first refreshing song on this album would be from Chingy? He actually is approaching the song with a story, and a story of philanthropy none the less! He’s “got a bag of goodies for all y’all” and gonna “make it rain gifts like Santa Claus”. Truly inspirational. And if you’re wondering what happened to Chingy, you’re not the only one.

Kb Christmas Delight by Kurtis Blow

It’s really throwing me off that this album was made this year. I legit thought this was from 2005. So hearing references like Netflix are jarring. In this song, KB starts namedropping rappers coming to his Christmas party, like Snoop and Rev Run from Run DMC. But what’s even more jarring is when when he mentions that Kim and Kanye roll up in the party.. Also, I’m not a Kurtis Blow aficionado or anything, but do his songs all sound the same?

Other key lyrics: “Ring ring at the door again, in walks Kanye and Kim/Don’t let the paparazzi in, only hip-hop fam and friends/Knock Knock who will we see? Beyonce and Jay Z/B and Jay Z came by just to party with me/No shade we ain’t sipping tea”

Surviving Christmas by Kool Moe Dee

Straight up the most depressing Christmas song I’ve ever heard. Including that Christmas Shoes one. You’ve just got to listen to this one.

The placement of these songs is so wrong. It’s a mixtape gone horribly wrong.

Ho Ho Ho (Dirty Christmas) by Ying Yang Twins

When I first picked this lost gem of an album up, the one track that really stood out to me was this one titled Ho Ho Ho (Dirty Christmas). Judging by the parenthetical addendum as well as the fact that it was by Whisper Song stars the Ying Yang Twins, I deduced the title wasn’t referring to Santa’s favorite phrase. And man oh man. Was I wrong. First of all, the hook is to the tune of Frére Jacques, but the lyrics are now: “Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas/Ho Ho Ho/Ho Ho Ho/ Santa where my presents? Santa where my presents?/I’ve been good! I’ve been good!” And while a “ho” is mentioned in the beginning, it’s mostly about wanting presents? I don’t know what to do with this.

Other key lyrics: “Kids runnin’ around/playing with all their toys/You better sit your ass down/Makin’ all that noise/Take your ass outside/And ride that bike/ But your ass better come in/When that light come on”

“Macy’s got a black santa on the sixth floor!” Black Santa Clauz

It’s Still Christmas by Celly Cel

If there’s anything I’ve learned from this album is that Santa gives presents that all these rappers want, and also it all happens in the hood. In this song, we should all keep the chorus in mind when Dec. 25th comes round this year: “If we don’t get what we want/It’s still Christmas/Let the haters hate/We gon’ celebrate

Other key lyrics: “Spoiled little kids get pissed, if they don’t get everything on they’re list/Girlfriend’s mad cuz she didn’t get a ring/Boyfriend mad cuz she joined another team.”

I Can’t Wait Til Christmas by The Force MD’s sounds like a song made specifically for JCPenney TV commercials

Silent Night by J-Kwon

For a song that’s all about peace and stillness, J-Kwon’s version begins with a non-peaceful chant of “Silent Night Silent Night Silent Night Silent Night Silent Night”

Other key lyrics: “Let my girlfriend trip she don’t get no gifts today”

A sincere version of What Child Is This? shouldn’t be on the same album as “Merry Christmas motherfuckers”, right? It’s completely tone deaf.

It’s Christmas by Trick Daddy

I… kind of like this one? It’s a catchy chorus? I’ve been listening to this album for too long. IT’S TWO CDS WORTH OF MUSIC!

Other key lyrics: “I’m dancing with a fat girl but I can’t kiss her though” what are you talking about

And we’re back to the most non-merry version of Jingle Bells I’ve every heard.

Santa Baby by Khia

The producers of this album decided the best move to end this ridiculous record was to close it with a version of Santa Baby by Khia, who you might know from her work on My Neck, My Back. I feared she would turn this song too sexual, but thank God she didn’t. That aside… it’s still not good.

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The Holiday Is Our Aesthetic

Christmas movies, in general, are aesthetically dreamy. Those technicolor classics like White Christmas bring the Old Hollywood glamor, cozy houses in movies like The Family Stone make me dream of joyfully chaotic decor, and Christmas rom-coms are the sparkliest and dreamiest of all rom-coms. That’s why this month, our aesthetic goals come from 2007 Christmas classic (ahem… modern classic), The Holiday.

Kate and Cameron’s Hair

Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz’s hair look perfectly normal, but that’s the thing. In 2007, Kate’s loose, beachy waves were actually at the very start of the loose, beachy waves trend, and I think it says something that it still looks current 9 years later – in contrast, imagine trying to sport, say, 1994 hair in 2003. I’ve also always been envious of straight, fine hair like Cameron’s that can looks fun yet professional in a short, croppy ‘do, as opposed to … floofy. I think a lot of us would look floofy with that haircut.

Rosehill Cottage, Exterior

Forget the likelihood that Iris, a young columnist who’s not at the top of her publication, could afford this. Holiday films are about wish-fulfillment, after all. It makes me happy just to think that SOMEONE gets to live in a gorgeous, quaint stone cottage with wildflower gardens, a rustic fence and a winding road in front of it. (Note: As a real estate addict, I did look up some houses for sale in Surrey. It is as expensive as you’d expect a picturesque London-accessible area to be; I assume the less-expensive ones are also secretly falling down inside. Maybe Iris inherited it from a relative. Whatever, it’s a movie and I’d much prefer to look at this cottage than a tiny, cookie-cutter terraced house from the 1970s).

Rosehill Cottage, Interior

I know that saying “I like the cottage better than Cameron Diaz’s mansion” makes me sound like one of those guys who think it’s a revelation that they find, like, Emma Stone more attractive than Angelina Jolie. The cottage is doing pretty well for itself, thanks. That said, yeah, I would 1000% rather live in Iris’s cottage than Amanda’s SmartHouse. (I bought a cute little 1909 house a few years ago so it’s not just talk. Also I couldn’t afford anything even approaching Amanda’s SmartHouse even if I wanted it, let’s be clear.) Rosehill Cottage really holds up on rewatch. There are layers of cosy decor, lots of overstuffed chintz chairs and a great vintage iron bed, but if you look really closely nothing is sloppy or haphazard. Also: fireplaces everywhere! Stone and stucco walls! A stainless steel tub and a painted wood bathroom floor! Do yourself a favor and go gawk at the Hooked On Houses page for it.

PS, I think “it has a fireplace in the bedroom” is the house version of “and it has pockets!” in a cute dress.

Iris’s Nancy Meyers Kitchen

Ain’t no kitchen like a Nancy Meyers kitchen cause a Nancy Meyers kitchen is very, very charming. Echoing the old-country charm of one of my other favorite Nancy Meyers kitchens (the vastly underrated Baby Boom), this one comes complete with a stucco fireplace, open shelving with blue and white earthenware pottery, flush-mounted cabinet doors in a chalky robins egg blue, and a cosy vintage table. Yes, I did make note of all of those elements for reference when I remodel my kitchen.

Sweaters

Second to the late 90s WB show Felicity, Christmas movies are the best visual source of people in comfy sweaters. If people feeling warm and comfortable is your aesthetic, may I present Jude Law in a blue sweater?

Sophie and Olivia’s Fort

Why is it that you can be a full-grown adult with a home or apartment of your own, but you’d still move into a soft blanket fort with fairy lights any day? Sophie and Olivia, come decorate for me.

Arthur’s Old Hollywood Vibe

Modern Hollywood culture – not much aesthetic appeal. But anything that smacks of the old studio system? Now we’re talking. Arthur, a funny and sweet relic from the days when people only knew about celebrities’ personal lives through fake ‘dates’ they’d go to at the studio commissary, is the real romantic hero of this movie.

This New Year’s Party

Low key decorations, snacks, champagne, and only like 6 people, two of whom are small children. Now THAT’S what a call a no-fuss holiday gathering. But the best part is everyone dresses way the heck up anyway because it’s the holidays, and the best aesthetic of all is “fancier than is strictly necessary, just because it’s fun sometimes.”

 

Previously In Our Aesthetic:

Love Actually Is A 2003 Time Capsule

This year, there are teenagers who were not even born when Love Actually was released. I hope you feel good about that, because I feel awful. Still, I cannot deny that 2003 was a really long time ago. The global economy and politics were different, technology was worlds apart, clothing has changed enough to look absurd now. I always expect this with 90s movies, but seeing a movie from the 2000s look dated – my high school years! senior year, in fact! I worked at a movie theater when it came out! – is a bit of a shock. There’s no denying it: now that Love Actually is a teenager old, it is a veritable 2003 time capsule.

Keira Knightly’s two pieces of hair

2003 was the year side bangs started to make their way back in after those 1990s curled-under round brush bangs were officially out. But it was a transitional time, and if you wanted a bit of interest you’d just part your hair in the middle and leave two little pieces out in front.

Natalie Had Those Side Bangs, By The Way

See also, my haircut c. 2004.

Keira Knightly herself

Keira Knightly 2003, Keira Knightly 2016. WHERE IS THE DIFFERENCE. She’s like a walking 2003 time capsule.

(I remember being floored that I was roughly the same age as Keira when this came out, because she looked like a beautiful, sophisticated leading lady and I looked like a Cabbage Patch Kid without makeup, or an American Girl doll with.)

This Ringtone

Thomas Sangster As A Child

You may remember that for what felt like a 10-year period in the early 2000s, all child roles were played by Thomas Sangster, Dakota Fanning and Freddie Highmore (that English boy with the brown bowl cut from Finding Neverland). It went on for so long that it seemed almost like they were being pumped with puberty-surpressing drugs. Nothing says 2003 like Child Thomas Sangster.

(Upon further Googling, Thomas Sangster is now a 26 year old man, lending further weight to my theory that he played little boy roles forever)

Maroon Five

Just, in general.

Keira Knightly’s newsboy cap

Or baker boy hat, I guess? These aren’t totally gone, but they were really having a moment in the early 2000s

A VHS tape as a plot device
Dido

as the soundtrack to an angsty scene, in particular.

Norah Jones

as the soundtrack to a slow dance, in particular.

The American girls’ ‘going out outfits’

As discussed in our analysis of mid 2000s fashion, the Going Out Top was a very real phenomenon. That blue sparkly one, in particular, is a prime example of a 2003 Going Out Top in the wild.

Natalie’s off-shoulder Christmas sweater

Way more subtle than the fun yet garish 80s/90s Christmas sweaters, but really throwing me back to the off-shoulder thing that was going on my last few years of high school.

Joanna’s 2003 Pop Star Ensemble

I present: sequin top, a handkerchief hemline, sparkly jeans (totally had a pair) and accent braids. All ready for an American Idol audition.

Lax Airport Security

Things tightened up after 9/11, but the rigid check in/ security protocol as we know it took a few years to develop, making dramatic airport confessions of love possible.

Playlist of the Month: HamilCast Cover Songs

Welcome to Day 2 of #Hamilweek! Today we’re incorporating out recurring Playlist of the Month feature with all things Hamilton, and what better way to feature the cast members than showing off their beautiful voices? And we’re not just talking about the leads. The bench on this show runs deep. Like, members of the ensemble have had their own leading roles like Elphaba in Wicked. These folks do not play. Here are just some examples of the cast’s wonderful talents, wrapped in glorious cover songs you probably already know.

Joy to the World by Various Cast Members

For nearly two decades, Broadway starts record classic holiday tunes for an album called Carols for a Cure, and the proceeds to towards Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. For the 2015 edition, Leslie Odom, Jr. led a new arrangement of Joy to the World, with additional lyrics from Oak Onaodowan. With the help of 11 other cast members, the squad makes an overplayed Christmas carol refreshing again and uplifts your spirit any time of the year.

Bet On It by Lin-Manuel Miranda

Back in the In The Heights days, Lin was as active on the YouTube as he is on Twitter today. Ok, maybe not that active, but still. He had enough time to make short movies like this one, which is technically not a cover song, but a parody of the High School Musical 2 classic Bet On It, as performed by Zac Efron. For context, Lin made this to promote the transfer of In The Heights from The Public to the Broadway – ironically to the Richard Rodgers Theater where Hamilton currently plays. The sound is evident Lin made this at home on his computer (much like his Hamilton demos), but the comparison to HSM is pretty spot on. Also he’s a huge dork. Also also once you finish watching this and finish freaking out over the surprise cameos, watch this.

Anything Goes by Jonathan Groff

Speaking of the oh so cute Jonathan Groff, it’s important you know he was, is, and always will be a Sutton Foster fangirl. So when he did the annual Miscast benefit (in which Broadway stars sing parts they’ll never get) he naturally chose a role Sutton was in at the time, Reno Sweeney in Anything Goes. The title song involves a lot of tap dancing on Reno’s part, and Groffsauce was up for the challenge. He continues to be the cutest.

Good For You by Leslie Odom, Jr. featuring Daveed Diggs

I’m like 95.3% sure I got pregnant after listening to this for the first time. I mean, it’s been months and I don’t have a baby keeping me up at night, so maybe not really. I’m just saying, as much as you try to prepare yourself for this, you’ll never be. PS: If you’re a Spring Awakening fan, also listen to Leslie’s cover of The Guilty Ones. That song might get you preggo too. Thanks, LOJ.

Higher Love/Rather Be/Human Nature by Jasmine Cephas Jones and Anthony Ramos

Talk about couple goals. Jasmine and Anthony are Hamilton’s true (offstage) love story, and while they don’t get to duet in the show, their voices are beautifully blended together in this mash-up by Hamilton associate conductor Kurt Crowley. Not to sound too stalkery – a thing all stalkers say – I would pay to watch these two just casually singing around the house. Can you imagine?

Ego/Too Close/Back That Thang Up by Phillipa Soo

If you haven’t heard of The Skivvies, this probably looks weird. If you have, probs not as weird. The Skivvies is made up of  Lauren Molina and Nick Cearley, who perform literal stripped down versions of hit songs and thrown in originals of their own. Here we have the beautifully bare Pippa Soo, killing a Bey song and in sparkly hot pants no less. What a dream.

Brave by Alysha Deslorieux

Ok, so remember how I said the bench is deep on this show? Say hello to Alysha. She is a standby for all the female leads/Schuyler sisters: Angelica, Eliza, and Peggy/Maria, so if any of them are out, she steps right on in. And it’s easy to see why. She’s a vocal powerhouse and able to evoke emotion through her tone, as seen in this cover of Sara Bareilles’ Brave. Now just imagine her singing Burn.

Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most by Sydney Harcourt

Moving right along, Sydney is an ensemble member who plays the Doctor, Philip Schuyler, James Reynolds, and he also understudies for Burr and Washington. Word on the street is that he’s killed it as Washington, even saving the day when Chris Jackson got some allergic reaction and had to pull out after Act I! Anyways, here is Sydney singing Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most by Ella Fitzgerald and it’s easy to see why he understudies for Mr. Silky Smooth Leslie Odom, Jr.

Ladies Who Lunch by Ariana DeBose

Ariana is also an ensemble member who’s lovingly nicknamed The Bullet, because *semi-spoiler alert* the duel between A.Ham and Burr involves a cast member acting as the actual Bullet used to kill Hamilton. I KNOW. And Ariana is just as fiery as her onstage counterpart (see what I did there?). First of all, if she looks familiar, it’s because she was a contestant on the underrated and underwatched sixth season of So You Think You Can Dance. She was also in Bring It On the Musical, which Lin also wrote, Motown the Musical and Pippin. I never knew she had a voice/could act until I saw her in Bring It On, and with a cover of Sondheim’s tricky Ladies Who Lunch from Company, it’s clear why she’s on Broadway so often.

Never Can Say Goodbye by Austin Smith

Like Sydney, Austin is also an ensemble member who covers tracks for Burr and Washington, as well as Hercules Mulligan/James Madison. I couldn’t find any other vids of him singing, so here’s a low quality Ham4Ham of him singing Michael Jackson and I just want him to appear in more Ham4Hams. Or be in the cast still when we see it in T- four months. !

ICYMI: I Could Write A Sonnet About Your Easter Bonnet

Happy Easter to all those who celebrate it! If you need a respite from your family or friends right now, go seclude yourself in a room with a TV because odds are one of these movies is on.

Easter Movies, From Godspell to The 10 Commandments To Mallrats

For me, one of the biggest signs that Easter is still primarily a religious holiday is the dearth of Easter movies. There are hundreds of Christmas movies that never mention the birth of Jesus, but there are only a handful of Easter movies – and most of them basically stick to the book. What I’m saying is, some of these Easter movies are a stretch, but I’m working with what I’ve got. Happy(?) Holy Thursday, if that applies to you, and have a good Easter, too!

Godspell

This is what I’m talking about when I talk about Easter movies! Godspell is my personal favorite Jesus musical, an admittedly small genre. You ever notice that some people are Godspell people, and some are Jesus Christ Superstar people, and then everyone else is like “what are you even talking about?” Godspell is cheerful pseudo-hippie 1970s, whereas JCS is glam rock-y 70s, but both tell the story of Jesus as a (cheesy?) musical that I love.  Godspell is based on the Gospel of Matthew and focuses on Jesus’ parables and his more peace-and-love type teachings. I’m going to go all-caps for a second, okay? VICTOR “MR. ANDREWS” GARBER AS JESUS. Okay? I am just warning you, this movie may leave you with a weird crush on both Victor Garber and Jesus.

*(Aside: I absolutely love movies filmed in 1970s-1990s New York, maybe because it looks like the New York I remember as a kid in the 90s, so that’s a bonus.)

Jesus Christ Superstar

While this is mostly an unranked list, Godspell and Jesus Christ Superstar probably are my top two Easter movies. While I like the stage production of Jesus Christ Superstar, the movie is a bit less visually appealing to me (read: set in the desert). Also, it focuses on the Jesus/Judas relationship. I love a frenemy situation in musical theater (Hamilton! right?), but it also makes it feel a little darker and less uplifting than Godspell. Nevertheless, my corny musical-loving self is always here for an Andrew Lloyd Webber / Tim Rice collab.

My advice, if you can find it: watch the 2001 Great Performances version with Glenn Carter and Renee Castle instead of the 1973 film. We watched it in a high school theatre class and it’s when I really started to like Jesus Christ Superstar.

The Passion Of The Christ

I worked in a movie theater during this movie’s 2004 release, and I can honestly say that the worst customers I encountered were some of the church groups who came in en masse to the early morning shows. Also I worked at the concession stand at the time, and it sort of felt like a weird movie to nosh on Skittles and popcorn during, but what do I know. Customers aside, the hype was deserved and … it pains me a bit to say … Mel Gibson did a great job telling the story of the crucifixion in a fresh way. It was also graphically violent and isn’t a movie I’ve ever felt the need to rewatch.

The 10 Commandments

The 10 Commandments is usually on TV on Easter, even if it’s not technically an Easter Movie. It’s a Cecil B. DeMille Technicolor classic from the Golden Age of Hollywood. Starring Charlton Heston and Yul Brenner, The 10 Commandments focuses on the story of Moses and will set you back almost four hours, including intermission. I guess it’s televised at Easter because the Moses story is kind of the lead-up to the New Testament, or maybe because it’s the only religious movie that was really in the game for a while there.

Plus, Easter and Passover are both in early Spring, and it illustrates the Passover beautifully.


 

Now that you’ve got your movie fill, how about finishing off that Easter outfit with a sensible and not at all tacky Easter bonnet?

Let’s Make Easter Bonnets The New Christmas Sweater

Easter may be the “most important” Christian religious holiday, but it’s no Christmas. Sure, we have some Easter traditions – egg hunts, making children sit on top of a man dressed like a rabbit (and also making a man wear a rabbit suit made of low-pile carpeting), dipping hard-boiled eggs in vinegar-laced food coloring – but as a season of festive joy and anticipation, Christmas clearly wins. Not only do we have fewer Easter traditions, they’re also all geared towards children. And arguably furries.

NOPE.

There’s kind of a reason for this. The Christmas story is fairly cute and approachable – it involves a baby, barnyard animals and a magical star. Easter is sort of unpleasant in comparison, and it takes a bit more work to get kids to understand it. For instance, last Easter my nephew Henry announced “Zurg died on the cross.” If you didn’t know: Zurg is the bad guy from Toy Story. I asked who put Zurg there, because I’m not responsible for this kid; I just get to “yes, and” him. “Jesus did,” he answered. Huh. Yeah, I sort of understand why we’re just like “Don’t worry about the whole Easter thing, just go sit on this man-rabbit and eat some candy.”

He died so we may live.

 

A few weeks ago, Henry – now four years old – started asking weird questions again. First: “What’s an orphan?” and then “Well, how would I get my mommy one?” Aunts of the world: just keep “yes, and” -ing that shit. It all started to come together a few days later, when he asked me “Aunt Molly, what’s an Easter bon?” That’s when I realized that (1) he was asking about an Easter bonnet, and (2) these questions were coming from the lyrics to Peter Cottontail, which means, rather reassuringly, (3) It was an orchid for your mommy; and my nephew is not trying to procure a parentless child for his mother. Phew.

Luckily, I didn’t have to try to explain what an Easter bonnet was – that was less a job for Aunt Molly and more a job for Aunt Google Image Search. And holy cow, guys! I thought they were just dumb hats that old ladies wear to church, or little girls’ straw hats with itchy elastic straps under the chin. But no, there is a whole world of wacky Easter Bonnets out there.

That’s when it all came together. We need a fun, stupid Easter activity for grown-ups. Something to get you in the holiday spirit, something that looks entirely ridiculous when you look at it just a month later. Something like EASTER BONNETS. Hear me out for a second. Chances are, you’ve attended an Ugly Holiday Sweater party in the past few years. Holidays make adults want to act like goofy kids again, and ugly sweaters help you do just that. There’s no real Easter equivalent unless you’re a seven-year-old girl or one of those church ladies who wears an Aretha hat. Unless- unless! – we start decorating bonnets in a party atmosphere. There are so many possibilities – just look:

Now, most of these pictures are from the UK, which makes me think that our UK readers are reading this saying “yeah, Easter bonnets. Easter eggs. Everybody knows this.” But no! They really aren’t as big a thing in the U.S., except in the Easter Parade, and I don’t know anybody who has actually gone to that. Oh, also our Easter Eggs are actual EGGS here, not the giant chocolate affairs you can buy overseas. We’re really struggling with the whole Easter thing in the States. So I say next year, we all throw Ugly Easter Bonnet parties, and everyone gussies up their fanciest bonnet. Whoever makes the tackiest one wins! Then we can all go celebrate Jesus’s victory over Emperor Zurg – the real reason for the season.

ICYMI: Conversation Hearts & Diamond Rings

Happy Valentine’s Day! Celebrate by waxing nostalgic about V-Day decorations of yore!

It’s the 90s: Let’s All Decorate For Valentine’s Day!

Happy Valentine’s Day season, I guess!  Valentine’s Day falls into one of my favorite holiday subcategories: a Snack Holiday. A Snack Holiday is almost a normal day, except there are themed snack foods. Snack Holidays don’t require gift exchanges or elaborate meals, which are entirely optional. Other Snack Holidays include Halloween, Fat Tuesday, St. Patrick’s Day, and maybe Lincoln’s Birthday if you swing it right. Snack Holidays are closely related to, and sometimes overlap with, drinking holidays: Mardis Gras (Fat Tuesday + booze), Independence Day, St. Patrick’s Day. I love them all!

You may be thinking that Valentine’s Day is NOT a Snack Holiday because presents and fancy meals are obligatory. However, except for a few couples I know, most people leave these big celebrations behind in their early twenties. You wouldn’t think so, but it’s actually pretty great being single on Valentine’s Day in your late 20s. Most of your friends who are dating, engaged, or married have been together so long that they aren’t into big, amateurish displays of affection. Most of them are spending the holiday ordering a pizza and seeing if there’s anything good on Netflix. Yes, except for a brief interlude from the ages of, say, 15 to 25, V-Day is a Snack Holiday we can all enjoy.

For those of us who grew up in the 90s, our concept of Valentine’s Day as a Snack Holiday was established in our classroom parties. So in this holiday edition of Let’s All Decorate, let’s take it back and decorate that classroom, why don’t we?

Beanie Babies

In the height of the Beanie Baby craze, there’s a good chance your teacher displayed seasonal Beanies on her crowded desk, probably next to the cold cup of teacher’s lounge coffee. It was one of the few attempts at teacher coolness that actually sort of worked, except that you gave her a bit of side-eye for displaying a “rare” holiday Beanie Baby on her desk without a tag protector or clear plastic coffin.

Shoebox Mailboxes

I’m going to go ahead and call this the most highly-anticipated busywork of the year. Sometime before your Valentine party, the teacher would bust out a stash of shoeboxes she had saved from every pair of sneakers, loafers and boots that she, her husband, and her children had bought for the past year. “Wasn’t it nice of her to save those JUST FOR YOU?”…  Is a thought that never occurred to me as a child because children are selfish little dirtbags. You would cover the shoebox in plain paper, then decorate with stickers, crayons, and if your teacher was exceptionally chill about classroom mess, some glitter.

The mailboxes served a triple purpose of keeping the Valentines neater than they’d have been in a pile on your desk, concealing who received which Valentine (although you had to give one to every kid, so whatever), and filling up a solid half hour of post-lunch time on a day when kids are bouncing off the walls.

Note: if your teacher’s children didn’t go through as many shoes that year, you may have decorated manila envelopes that you taped off the edge of your desk, instead.


If you’re reading this and thinking of proposing to your significant other today, don’t.

Dear Future Fiance (A Note on Proposing)

Dear Future Fiance,

Thanks to the magic that is Facebook, I’ve been #blessed with waking up in the morning and seeing which of my friends or friends’ friends is set to take the plunge with their significant other. This number is higher during certain times of the year, most notably the holidays. Now I’m not being a Bitter Betty about this or intending to put anyone down if they DID get engaged over the holidays, I just am expressing what I want in a potential proposal. As the wise and beautiful land mermaid Amy Poehler wrote in her book Yes Please:

So in an effort to not be part of the cliche statistic, I’m writing this to set a few ground rules. If you already have a problem with me saying this, then maybe we shouldn’t even get married in the first place.

– Do not propose to me on Christmas Eve.

Christmas is my favorite holiday. I like the spirit of it, I like the traditions that come with it. I am accustomed to doing the same thing every year and I like it that way. Some kind of big dinner, candlelight service at church, pictures with the fam before we change out of our nice clothes. It is also my mother’s birthday, so, not a good day to steal her thunder.

– Do not propose to me on Christmas.

Christmas already comes with presents. I do not need an additional diamond/jewel of your (my) choice to be added under the tree. Whatever is on my list is a perfectly acceptable gift. I’d much rather get the complete Dawson’s Creek series on DVD rather than a non-creative proposal. Also it is Jesus’ birthday, so, not a good day to steal his thunder.

– Do not propose to me on New Year’s Eve.

I already dislike New Year’s Eve as it is. It’s always one of those nights where everyone asks you what you’re doing, and makes it out to be some big elaborate thing with a lot of high expectations. Speaking of expectations, I personally expect a proposal is supposed to be a surprise (more or less), something to catch you off-guard. Getting down on one knee on a night where thousands of other men are doing the same thing isn’t a surprise. Also it’s the New Year’s birthday, so, not a good day to steal its thunder.

– Do not propose to me on Valentine’s Day.

If your significant other needs a pre-determined day to do all the romantic things he can possibly think of on only one day out of the year, something’s wrong. I don’t want to go out to dinner and find a ring in a chocolate box (I’ll probably eat it) or at the bottom of my champagne glass (I’ll probably drink it). Again, proposing on Valentine’s Day is cliche and unimaginative, so don’t do it then. Also it’s Cupid’s birthday (not really), so, not a good day to steal his thunder.

– Do not propose to me on my birthday.

It is my birthday, so, not a good day to steal my thunder.

Sincerely,

The Woman Of Your Dreams

Best of 2015: Dear Future Fiance (A Note on Proposing)

It’s Christmas! And that means there are some fuckers out there getting ready to or have already proposed to their significant others. Here’s a pro tip from someone who’s never been betrothed before -DON’T DO IT.

Dear Future Fiance,

Thanks to the magic that is Facebook, I’ve been #blessed with waking up in the morning and seeing which of my friends or friends’ friends is set to take the plunge with their significant other. This number is higher during certain times of the year, most notably the holidays. Now I’m not being a Bitter Betty about this or intending to put anyone down if they DID get engaged over the holidays, I just am expressing what I want in a potential proposal. As the wise and beautiful land mermaid Amy Poehler wrote in her book Yes Please:

So in an effort to not be part of the cliche statistic, I’m writing this to set a few ground rules. If you already have a problem with me saying this, then maybe we shouldn’t even get married in the first place.

– Do not propose to me on Christmas Eve.

Christmas is my favorite holiday. I like the spirit of it, I like the traditions that come with it. I am accustomed to doing the same thing every year and I like it that way. Some kind of big dinner, candlelight service at church, pictures with the fam before we change out of our nice clothes. It is also my mother’s birthday, so, not a good day to steal her thunder.

– Do not propose to me on Christmas.

Christmas already comes with presents. I do not need an additional diamond/jewel of your (my) choice to be added under the tree. Whatever is on my list is a perfectly acceptable gift. I’d much rather get the complete Dawson’s Creek series on DVD rather than a non-creative proposal. Also it is Jesus’ birthday, so, not a good day to steal his thunder.

– Do not propose to me on New Year’s Eve.

I already dislike New Year’s Eve as it is. It’s always one of those nights where everyone asks you what you’re doing, and makes it out to be some big elaborate thing with a lot of high expectations. Speaking of expectations, I personally expect a proposal is supposed to be a surprise (more or less), something to catch you off-guard. Getting down on one knee on a night where thousands of other men are doing the same thing isn’t a surprise. Also it’s the New Year’s birthday, so, not a good day to steal its thunder.

– Do not propose to me on Valentine’s Day.

If your significant other needs a pre-determined day to do all the romantic things he can possibly think of on only one day out of the year, something’s wrong. I don’t want to go out to dinner and find a ring in a chocolate box (I’ll probably eat it) or at the bottom of my champagne glass (I’ll probably drink it). Again, proposing on Valentine’s Day is cliche and unimaginative, so don’t do it then. Also it’s Cupid’s birthday (not really), so, not a good day to steal his thunder.

– Do not propose to me on my birthday.

It is my birthday, so, not a good day to steal my thunder.

Sincerely,

The Woman Of Your Dreams

ICYMI: Jingles All The Way

Christmas is so close we can taste it! Pump up the jamz with these holiday songs by some of our favorite Jewish artists! Because, obviously.

Playlist of the Month: Christmas Songs by Jewish Artists

Hanukkah 2015 is already in the books. That means that from this point onward, people of all religions can focus on that other December holiday: Christmas. Sure, if we’re getting technical about it Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus – but it’s also turned into a cultural celebration where we put our differences aside and eat cutout cookies, decorate trees, and jam out to the likes of Barbra Streisand and Amy Winehouse. Who better to sing Happy Birthday to one of the most famous Jewish babies in the world?

Traci’s Picks

The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)
Mel Torme and Judy Garland

This tune is one of the iconic Christmas songs we all know and love, but did you known it was written by two Jews? Mel Torme and Bob Wells wrote it in 1945 in the middle of summer in an effort to cool down. Truth. Bob was randomly writing down wintery things on a notepad like, “Yuletide carols” and “Jackfrost” and “folks dressed up like Eskimos” because he was so damn hot, but when Mel (who was 19 at the time) took a look at it he saw them as song lyrics. The rest is history. This version features Mel on Judy Garland’s self-titled TV show, and also includes a sly Over the Rainbow ref. This is the kind of song that just warms your heart.

Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want To Fight Tonight)
The Ramones

This is my second-favorite song about sparring on Christmas (after the fantastic Fairytale of New York) – and it proves that you don’t have to grow up celebrating Christmas to know that it’s a holiday that sparks a lot of arguments.


You know what else is a great holiday song that’s Jew-centric? Christmas for the Jews from SNL. As classic as Jingle Bells.

Laughing All The Way: The Best SNL Holiday Sketches

The holidays are a time for being with friends and family, giving presents, getting presents, eating too much, etc. etc. And at the root of all this is something so simple – cheer. We revel in being around people and doing things that make us happy, because that’s what this time of year is all about.

One of the things that make us joyful, not only during Christmas but all year round, is Saturday Night Live. It has a storied history of making viewers laugh every Saturday night, and in December, there are sketches that dreams are made of. For our final December playlist installment, we present to you the sketches that make us laugh, make us cry from laughing, that just make us happy. And hopefully you’ll catch the contagious cheer this season and all year round.

Molly’s Picks

Consumer Probe (1976)

I’m going to yank you back into memory lane for a second. I started watching SNL regularly when I was 10 or so, because I’m the fourth kid and my parents DGAF. But before that, I’d get to stay up and watch when my family swarmed my grandparents’ house for the holidays. Around Christmas, that often meant ancient repeats or compilation episodes, which is how I got acquainted with the original Not Ready For Primetime Players. This sketch, with Dan Aykroyd schilling unsafe children’s toys like Bag O’ Glass and Johnny Switchblade, played right into my silly little-kid comedy sensibilities. As a grownup, I find it even funnier. [watch here]

Mr. Robinson’s Neighborhood (1984)

Would I find this one so funny if, during the Cabbage Patch craze, my uncle hadn’t sold my parents a bootleg Cabbage Patch Kid that was stuffed with gasoline-soaked rags? They took the rags out, restuffed it, and gave it to my siblings. We’re all adults now so I think I can write that without fear of us being removed from their custody. Anyway, I think the answer is yes. Yes, I would still find it so funny.

Steve Martin’s Holiday Wish (1986)

At Christmastime, we all say stupid stuff about wanting world peace and for the children of the world to join hands in perfect harmony or whatever, but deep down, we all want stuff. Stuff, and revenge.

The Sweeney Sisters Bells Medley (1986)

Watching Nora Dunn and Jan Hooks’ characters try a bit too hard to sell the unfunny Christmas banter and the Carol Of The Bells now just makes me think of how darn funny Jan Hooks was. Which reminds me of another family Christmas tradition – my pessimistic grandmother chiming “laugh today, cry tomorrow!” over the laughter of children.  [watch here]

Dysfunctional Family Christmas (1990)

Is your family passive-aggressive, or just aggressive-aggressive? Is your only family tradition disappointing your parents and drinking to forget? Does someone always call someone else fat? Then screw Jingle Bells, this should be the soundtrack to your family festivities. [watch here]

Mary Katherine Gallagher’s Christmas Concert (1996)

This is 90s as heck: Molly Shannon’s Mary Katherine Gallagher character, Rosie O’Donnell as a Catholic school nun, Penny Marshall on piano, and Whitney Houston as that one girl who gets all the solos. This is the cast that was on SNL when I started watching religiously, and rewatching this sketch reminds me that I came in at a good time. [watch here]

Martha Stewart’s Topless Christmas Special (1996)

Once again, take yourself back to the 90s. Before the market was saturated with celebrity chefs and DIY empires, Martha Stewart was the WASP-y face of American perfectionism. Ana Gasteyer posing with a boys’ choir while wearing just a dickie cracked me up in 1996 – and it still does.

The Narrator That Ruined Christmas (2001)

We were all so unmoored those first months after 9/11 that it felt disrespectful to do anything without acknowledging that something awful had happened. Even our high school homecoming t-shirts had an American flag on the back that year. I was reminded of that last month, when my family drove through an outdoor light display. There, in megawatt glow, were the twin towers with the words “Never Forgotten” underneath. I’m sure that display was purchased in Christmas 2001, when it felt like even a charity light setup should nod to our collective grief. Anyway, that’s how my 5-year-old nephew learned about 9/11.  This Saturday TV Funhouse takes you right back to that feeling, with the stop-motion snowman narrator giving up on holiday joy. Writers of this one included Stephen Colbert and Louis CK.

Two A-Holes In A Live Nativity Scene (2007)

The two a-holes are recurring characters that never really got their due. They played off the mid-2000s reality tv, conspicuous consumption, vocal fry trope, and you will never hear “myrrh” the same way again. [watch here]

Do It On My Twin Bed (2013)

This music video highlights how solid the current female cast is. Lil Baby Aidy and the gang are the stars of this “funny because it’s true” new classic: everything, from surly neighbor Jean to a high-status family member sprawling out in the guest suite, from the awkward junior high photos to the time capsule-like childhood bedroom, is part of the Christmas experience when you’re spending the holidays with your family.

Traci’s Picks

Motivational Santa (1994)

I got into SNL around middle school, so like the Cheerleaders, Superstar, Leon Phelps, Mango era. I didn’t do my research before that and admittedly have only seen a select sketches from anything before like 1996. Among those select sketches was Chris Farley as Motivational Speaker, Matt Foley. You know, the guy who lives in a van down by the river? He sometimes moonlights as a Santa, therefore making him a Motivational Santa that is even more frightening and alarming than ever before. Screen your Santa before taking your kids to them, folks. {watch video here}

Delicious Dish (1998)

This sketch is not only one of the most famous holiday sketches but SNL sketches of all time. As NPR hosts, Ana Gasteyer and Molly Shannon have the perfect tone to their voice as they talk about culinary delights on their talk show. When Alec Baldwin joins them, the NPR ladies secured themselves in the SNL Hall of Fame. Of course throughout the sketch, they make double entendres left and right, but it isn’t until Alec says, “No one can resist the taste of my Schweddy Balls”, did the audience go crazy and millions of viewers knew the skit would go down in history.

Wish it Was Christmas Today (2000)

I am a total FalPal (Jimmy Fallon fan, obvs). My love for Jimmy started around his era on SNL. This particular sketch I remember finding so ridiculous, yet so catchy. My friend and I used to crush of Jimmy  so hard and just sing this song a lot, which is definitely not annoying at all. While it started as a Christmas sketch, they went on to do it multiple times, altering the lyrics for different holidays. While I am a purist and enjoy the OG one from 2000 the most, the 2011 version when Horatio, Chris and Tracy surprised everyone while Jimbo was hosting, comes in at a close second.

Weekend Update Characters

It was already extremely hard for us to pick our favorites for this list because we are insane and just love SNL, so here’s a group of the best recurring characters of Weekend Update and their Christmas-themed visits to the desk.

This segment has everything – Tranderson Cooper, Taylor Negron, Kite Enthusiasts and human parking cones (it’s that thing of when two jacked midgets paint themselves orange and you have to parallel park between them).

Kids today just leave Santa almond milk and Instagraham crackers. Can you put some quinoa in my spin class, please?

Look, I loved when Cecily was at the desk with Seth, but I’m also glad she’s not on the desk anymore so she can do this character. Everything coming out of her mouth is ridiculous and perfect.

Oh, how I love Garth and Kat. Fred and Kristen make a great team as it is, but when you put them in substitute teacher outfits and make them sing songs, it’s even better. On top of that, there’s not only the element of improv on Fred’s behalf, but like double improv with Kristen just copying every word of improv Fred’s saying. It’s a masterclass in Yes, and.

Taran Killam plays a newspaper movie critic from the 1800s and he hates everything. And he’s not afraid to say it. And the audience is also not afraid to let him know when they don’t like a joke. The best part might be when Seth laughs when one of the jokes gets absolutely no response from the crowd.

Glengarry Glen Christmas (2005)

Alec Baldwin is obviously brilliant every episode he’s done (16, the record for most times hosting), and per this list, he’s a staple in class holiday sketches, too. This one is a Christmas spoof on his popular role in Glengarry Glen Christmas, but this time, he’s taking over Santa’s factory and having a talk with the elves. I had seen this version before the original, which I suggest you watch here, but I still thought it was hilarious. After having seen the scene in the movie it was based on, it’s even more hilarious and spot on. Rachel, Fred, Amy, and Seth (who wrote the sketch!) are all perfect in this scene, and so is Alec, who accidentally makes a perfect slip-up in the middle.

Christmas for the Jews (2005)

One of the best ‘modern’ Christmas songs IMO is Darlene Love’s Christmas (Baby Please Come Home). It’s not the holidays until you hear this song, which is why she was the perfect choice to sing this tune for Saturday TV Funhouse. Christmas for the Jews tells a tale of how Jews revel in the fact all the Gentiles are inside celebrating Christmas, and they are free to ‘go see King Kong without a line’ or ‘Eat in a Chinese restaurant and drink some sweet wine’. Darlene’s legit-ness is what makes this song so good and another ‘modern day’ Christmas classic.

Dick in a Box (2006)

There was a period of time when I was in college that I wasn’t able to watch SNL as religiously as I had been before, which was sad for me, but also, it meant I had a some semblance of a social life? (LOL) I was at my friend’s apartment when she asked if I had seen Dick in a Box yet, and I hadn’t. We immediately watched it online (because this was when the whole YouTube/viral thing was just becoming a thing), and I basically died. Like Christmas for the Jews, Dick in a Box is actually a great song, lyrics aside. Lyrics included, still a great song. Speaking of lyrics, don’t mind the Spanish subtitles. Or do, it’s take D in a B to a whole new level.

Santa’s My Boyfriend (2006)

Just like Dick in a Box, I may know all the words (and maybe some harmonies) to this cold open from the SNL queens, including Poehler, Maya Rudolph and Kristen Wiig. You think at first it’s going to be a cute song about Santa and Christmas, but alas, this is SNL.

The Kissing Family: Holiday Affection (2010)

Like a bad car wreck, the Vogelcheck family is something that you should drive right past and not pay attention to, but you just can’t look away. Paul Rudd is the best at this sketch, because he just goes for it. I mean, anyone who agrees to do this sketch has to go for it, but he just goes.for.it. And so does Hader. Bless. {watch video here}

Jimmy Fallon’s Monologue (2011)

When Jimmy Fallon walked on stage as a host for the Christmas show in 2011, it was the first time he had been in Studio 8H since he left in 2004. I made no plans the night he hosted, and watched this episode ‘live’ west coast time in my bedroom, standing next to my TV 90% of the time because I was just SO EXCITED. And it all started with his monologue, because as soon as he hit his mark, you could tell it was a big moment for him. And just like Jimmy, he just wanted the monologue to be Fun with a capital F. I have a feeling he came up with the idea to just have the entire cast sing and dance with him at the end and if you’re not watching this without a big smile on your face, you’re a big ol’ grinch. By altering the lyrics to Darlene Love’s hit song, this cold open embodied exactly what’s at the heart of the holidays – ‘It’ so good to be home’. {Watch video here}

Things I’m Willing To Believe About 2015

Almost everything that is going to happen in 2015 has already happened. That means we’ve reached the point where you can sit back and reflect on the year that was … not. None of the following things actually happened in 2015, but the way the past year was, I’m willing to believe all of them.

  • The fastest-rising baby names were Temerity (girl) and Elfin (boy), springing from the trends toward word names for girls and names ending in “n” for boys.

 

  • Middle schoolers across the nation frightened their parents by “kale-ing” – snorting dried kale chips to enjoy the chill buzz of toxins leaving their systems.

 

 

  • The most-downloaded Youtube video in the U.S. was “oops-shite,” in which a British preschooler drops an ice cream cone then shouts “oops! SHITE.” YouTube Grand Master Martin Fillburgh called it a “perfect storm” of a child swearing combined with a non-American accent.

 

  • A Today show segment about a popular pair of sweat-wicking socks caused demand to skyrocket; they were selling for up to $15 a pair on eBay by Christmastime.

 

  • The most popular Google search was “how to hide political posts from Facebook.” The most popular Yahoo search was “how computer work.” The most popular Yahoo Answers search was “if I am pregnett with baby can baby get pregnett too yes or no.”

 

  • A detailed forensic analysis proved that at least two of Shakespeare’s worst sonnets as well as Timon of Athons were, in fact, written by his cousin, Trevor Shakespeare.

 

  • The least-attended panel in Comic-Con history was the reunion of Wild West C.O.W.-boys of Moo Mesa, an early 90s cartoon about a community of mutant old-west cows that formed after the prairie was hit by a comet, which I know existed because I watched it every week. Con planners are said to have “seriously misjudged” the pull of 90s nostalgia.

 

  • An entire chain of spin studios had to close when a serious strain of ringworm infected up to 70% of the patrons, many of whom didn’t really mind because at least that meant people could tell that they work out.

 

  • When pressed for a description of Minecraft, the creator explained “there’s like… these blocks, right? And you make a farm, sort of? But maybe like there are… wars… at times?” He then pulled a nine-year-old child from the audience to explain it better.

 

  • Archaeologists at Colonial Williamsburg believed that they had uncovered a 250-year-old time capsule. They scheduled a public opening, where it quickly became clear that it was actually a box of stuff a Colonial man didn’t want his wife to find.

 

  • At least seven flights were grounded when the combined GPS signals of the passengers’ Fitbit devices overpowered the plane’s navigation system.

 

  • People younger than you started a massive dance craze based on a 1970s Chilean novelty song.

 

  • Gwyneth Paltrow’s website, Goop, began selling amazingly ineffective cashmere towels for $475 a piece.

 

  • Your favorite show ended.

 

  • Somewhere in the United States, a teenager told a friend that they were singing a “song from an old musical” for an audition; it was from Rent.

America, at the end of the millennium.

 

  • The National Institute Of Health released a report entitled Everyone Is Fat And We’re All Going To Die: An American Epidemic.

 

  • Emily Patton, a 22-year-old recent NYU grad, launched #Married, a business that creates custom wedding hashtags for couples; each hashtag comes with a guarantee that the tag will not be used for any photos not associated with the wedding for up to 6 months after the event.

 

  • For the first time ever, 100% of the models in New York Fashion Week were born after 1990; over 10% were born in this millennium.

 

  • Someone you went to college with got a pug. And I bet it’s really cute, too.

 

  • Ariana Grande placed a drive-through Dunkin Donuts order that she had to repeat 13 times, as the girl CANNOT ENUNCIATE.
  • The latest hit social network: Mrow, described as “like Vine but for cats, on more of a Twitter interface.”

 

  • The fastest-growing subscription box company of the year was Flounce. Once a month subscribers get a box to fill with clothing they already own; it is mailed back to them with minor embellishments like lace ruffles, embroidery, or a bow.

 

  • A three-day convention called Handsome, Clever And Rich celebrated the bicentennial of Jane Austen’s novel Emma along with the 20-year anniversary of Clueless. Festivities were held in Surrey and Beverly Hills. Events included speed dating and makeovers; it was described by attendees as well-intentioned but a little shallow.

 

  • A Go Fund Me account has raised over $500 for Pizza Rat and his or her children.

Playlist of the Month: Christmas Songs by Jewish Artists

Hanukkah 2015 is already in the books. That means that from this point onward, people of all religions can focus on that other December holiday: Christmas. Sure, if we’re getting technical about it Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus – but it’s also turned into a cultural celebration where we put our differences aside and eat cutout cookies, decorate trees, and jam out to the likes of Barbra Streisand and Amy Winehouse. Who better to sing Happy Birthday to one of the most famous Jewish babies in the world?

Traci’s Picks

The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)
Mel Torme and Judy Garland

This tune is one of the iconic Christmas songs we all know and love, but did you known it was written by two Jews? Mel Torme and Bob Wells wrote it in 1945 in the middle of summer in an effort to cool down. Truth. Bob was randomly writing down wintery things on a notepad like, “Yuletide carols” and “Jackfrost” and “folks dressed up like Eskimos” because he was so damn hot, but when Mel (who was 19 at the time) took a look at it he saw them as song lyrics. The rest is history. This version features Mel on Judy Garland’s self-titled TV show, and also includes a sly Over the Rainbow ref. This is the kind of song that just warms your heart.

Happy Xmas (War is Over)
Adam Levine & Sara Bareilles

Many people have covered John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s iconic Christmas protest song, but there’s something special about the pairing of Adam and Sara. Adam has the right range for it, while Sara can literally sing anything and I’d be on board.

This Christmas
Carole King

This Christmas is one of my favorite modern day holiday jamz. Maybe it’s because I grew up listening to Platinum Christmas and heard R&B singer Joe’s version on repeat, but I associate this with pop and R&B acts, not folky types like Carole King. But that’s what makes me love this version that much more. She gives it a lived in, Tapestry quality to it that makes you want to curl up by the fire and drink hot cocoa.

From a Distance (Christmas version)
Bette Midler

Listen up. Sometimes I enjoy turning up to the easy listening radio station. I can enjoy a good Kenny G tune or Celine Dion power ballad every once in a while. I can also appreciate Bette Midler and her classic tune From a Distance. BUT, in doing research for this post, I found out she made an alternative Christmas version that is maybe even better than the OG? Maybe. But the Queen of the Jews singing “Joy to the World” at the end is the best. The best.

I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus
Amy Winehouse

No bit zone – I really think Amy would’ve made an amazing Christmas/holiday album. Her voice is already astounding, but her spin on classic songs would’ve been such a hit.

Molly’s Picks

Baby It’s Cold Outside
Idina Menzel and Michael Buble

Yes, this song is creepy, but this version subs out some of the skeevier lyrics, making it my favorite rendition.

It was only a matter of time before Idina Menzel released a Christmas album. This particular song is really just a winter song, but there are plenty of Christmas-specific tracks on the album.

White Christmas
Barbra Streisand

How about a two-fer: when he wrote White Christmas, Irving Berlin, nee Israel Baline, made the most important Jewish contribution to the Christmas holiday since the Virgin Mary. Then Barbra Streisand covered it, and while nobody, not even Babs, is Bing Crosby, this is still pretty darn wonderful.

Must Be Santa
Bob Dylan

If you ever doubt the extent to which Bob Dylan DGAF, just watch this video.

Christmas Must Be Tonight
The Band

Two things you may not have known: The Band performs a good Christmas song, and Robbie Robertson is Jewish.

Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want To Fight Tonight)
The Ramones

This is my second-favorite song about sparring on Christmas (after the fantastic Fairytale of New York) – and it proves that you don’t have to grow up celebrating Christmas to know that it’s a holiday that sparks a lot of arguments.