Say Merry Christmas by Finding Toys Made in the USA

Next to “Merry Christmas,” here’s the greeting toy shoppers are most likely to hear and see this holiday season: “Made in America.” After Mattel’s back-to-back recalls of Chinese-made toys — and amid growing, broader concerns about the safety of products from China — some small American toy makers and sellers are gearing up for a “Made [...]

Christmas Tree Growers Try to Take Back the Market

BANGOR, Maine - Maine tradition took center stage Friday afternoon at the Bangor Civic Center as two competitors raced to be named the fastest wreath maker at the National Christmas Tree Association Convention and Trade Show. More than 50 Christmas tree growers, retailers and vendors from around the United States and Canada witnessed Maria Kingsbury [...]

Kenny Loggins December — a Review

Kenny Loggins is a man who wears his heart on his sleeve.  His songs have feeling, emotion, and one of the great voices of pop music.  His career spans decades, his mastery of many styles unparalleled.  He is truly one whose voice is an instrument.  It is no surprise, therefore, that when he turned his attention to the season of Christmas, true magic ensued. In 1998 he released a masterpiece called simply, “December”.  It’s eleven songs a journey through the many emotions that encompass the most wonderful time of the year.  From the opening notes of “Walking in the Air” to the final chorus of his own composition “December” he creates a quilt of Christmas memories, Christmas celebration and Christmas longing. Melancholia is a part of many people’s feelings during the Christmas season.  Thoughts of loves lost, family members departed, and  celebrations never to be repeated are as much a factor as the current season’s celebration.  Kenny has his finger on the pulse of this phenomenon.  Not that his record is without joy!  In fact joy permeates the entire presentation.  He simply has a way of addressing the potential for mixed feelings in a way that few artists can. “Walking in the Air” opens the show.  This is a song first heard in the animated Christmas special, “The Snowman”.  At the start of the song is a child’s voice reciting the first verse of the lyric follwed by a vocal that can described as magical.  The  story does not specifically address Christmas but the thought of Santa flying through the sky can certainly be inferred.  Kenny’s voice shines, as usual. “The Christmas Song” follows.  It’s always gutsy for an artist to attempt a song that has many, many renditions recorded.  It’s rare for one of those new versions to stand out, Kenny’s does that and more.  His makes you want to stop and actually enjoy the things that the song describes.  You can smell the chestnuts roasting, feel the frosty nip on the nose, actually remember the excitement we all had waiting for Santa to arrive. “The Bells of Christmas” is the first song on the album actually written by Kenny Loggins.  It’s the story of a how we, as adults, have the power to find the magic we felt as children and even change the world if we’ll only allow ourselves the chance to think as children once again.  We have not lost those feelings that a child has at Christmas, we’ve merely forgotten them.  We can find them again, if we’ll only try.  The song has the potential the be a classic.  It builds to a crescendo singing that “the bells of Christmas can ring for us again!”  They truly do ring again, Kenny’s mission has been accomplished beyond measure. “Coventry Carol” is an old English carol that dates back to the 16th century and you can surely see why it is still performed today.  On this version, Kenny is joined by David Crosby and Graham Nash.  The harmonies are impeccable, the musicianship clearly evident, the celebration of the season and the birth of the Christ child in full force.  It’s lyric is simple and yet hugely meaningful, another gem. “Christmas Time is Here” was written by Vince Guaraldi and Lee Mendleson for the Christmastime television classic “A Charlie Brown Christmas”.  It’s simple and haunting melody is enhanced by Kenny’s performance.  The story the song tells never meant as much as when Kenny tells it in his own way.  Many artists have attempted this one, none has succeeded as Kenny has.  If your not excited that “Christmas time is here” after hearing this one, all is lost!  Close up shop and hope for a better “next year”. “Angels in the Snow” is another Loggins original.  Kenny sings of the changing of the season from autumn to winter, and the preparations that go towards the celebration of the winter solstice.  Tradition and familiarity clearly represented, we find the joy of recreating the prior years decoration and at the same time the excitement of finding new ways to prove our love for the season.  When Kenny sings of returning home and sitting by the fire an emotional vein is tapped, not a dry eye in the house. “White Christmas” appears like the old and dear friend that Irving Berlin intended it to be.  Kenny tips his hat to Bing Crosby and the memory of his father’s love for the song and the man.  No Christmas collection is truly complete without our old friend, and I’m so glad Kenny decided to include it!  A beautiful performance of the most favorite of Christmas songs. “Some Children See Him” is, as Kenny writes in his liner notes, “a courageous piece of music”.  Written by Alfred Burt and Wilha Hutson in the late 30’s, it was thought to be a little too progressive based on it’s complicated chord progressions, not the type of church music folks were used to.  And yet it’s message could not be any more traditional, the love for the Christ child.  It’s also somewhat progressive as it offers the possibility that Jesus’ racial lineage may not have been what we have seen in paintings and depictions over the last 2000 years and that if that is the case, no change would be felt in his message, his scripture, his message.  Kenny grabs this song and makes it his own.  He flows gracefully through the complicated arrangement and comes out a winner.  When he sings “Tis love that’s born tonight”, the true message of Christmas comes through loud and clear. “On Christmas Morning” is another fantastic original, this time penned by Kenny and renowned musician and producer David Foster.  It’s a love song both for his love, and Christmas itself.  As Kenny sings you can feel the love, see the snowflakes and imagine how wonderful the moments relayed truly were, truly are.  A more romantic Christmas morning has never been imagined!  “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” is next on the disc.  As Kenny writes, again in his liner notes, this song captures the bitter-sweet quality of the Christmas season, especially when family or friends may be parted.  I remember this song done by Judy Garland and Frank Sinatra.  Both of those versions seemed to offer both a sadness and a joy.  Kenny’s version has that and yet takes it to another level due to the true instrument-like qualitiy to his voice.  His phrasing and performance touches the listener in ways that the song writer truly intended.  Another gutsy choice due to it’s prevalence on other collections, but a home run in it’s own right. “December” has us arriving, the end of our journey.  Kenny’s notes are so touching, quoting them is most necessary.  “For many of us, the holidays are the most emotionally bitter-sweet time of the year, fluctuating from the highs of reunions and the rekindling of fond memories, to the lows of alienation and loneliness.  At first glance, too often we’re fooled by the constant Christmas public relations into thinking everyone is having a wonderful time but us, a feeling as if we are on the outside looking in.” “The truth is, we all take turns feeling it all: not only the joys of Christmas, but also, at one time or another, the loneliness too.  It is only by the love we give to each other that we reconnect, find the sense of belonging, of homecoming we so desperately crave.  Christmas is the one time of the year that tradition insists will not be ignored no matter how hard we try to modernize, commercialize, or trivialize her.  She continues to remind us of our brotherhood, our responsibility to each other, and ultimately, our real connection to one another, no matter how alone we may feel.  Because of Christmas:  I still believe in magic, I still believe in miracles, I still believe in love.” This beautiful song closes this collection in the perfect way.  Kenny has wished us the merriest of Christmases and has gifted us with a collection of music that will be listenable for many, many years to come.  Don’t let your collection be without this wonderful, meaningful performance.

Town Changes Decades Old Display Due to Legal Threats

Vernon, Connecticut has had a Christmas nativity display for decades. And it appears it will have one this year, too. But this year’s display will be different in that it will be smaller, relocated and surrounded by other winter religious symbols celebrating such holidays as Hanukkah, Ramadan, Kwanzaa, Chinese New Year, pagan winter solstice, [...]


Niceville Sounds Anything But

Niceville, Florida sounds like a friendly enough place. But in discussing what should be done about the traffic generated by a popular home Christmas display things have reportedly gotten nasty in Niceville. Resident Debbie Lewis, also known as the Christmas Lady, drew more than 5,000 people to her home last year to view her Christmas [...]


The (Light) Show Must Go On

Right on schedule, the public debates over Christmas lights on private property is intensifying. Today’s story comes from Manchester Township in York County Pennsylvania. This report from the York Dispatch tells the sordid tale: Todd Witte’s winter wonderland in Manchester Township is not going silently into the night. Despite objections by some neighbors to Witte’s spectacular [...]


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