5 Holiday Poems to Read this Season

It’s a great time of year for themed content. Whether you’re hoping for some Christmas cheer or a great winter aesthetic, the options are endless. There are movies, books, videos, songs, and more. With all of these great options, it can be overwhelming to choose. Like my posts for Halloween, I wanted to highlight some poems that perfectly fit into this time of year. Some you might have never heard before, and others might surprise you. Here are a few great holiday poems to get you into the world of festive poetry.

  1. “A Visit from St. Nicholas”– Clement Clarke Moore

If you are like me, then the title of this poem was not familiar. Once you read the poem itself, however, it becomes one of the most famous stories told at Christmastime. In fact, many people can probably recite some of this poem from memory. Many know “A Visit from St. Nicholas” as it’s more recent name “The Night Before Christmas”. It was first published back in 1823 anonymously in a New York paper. Many argue that this is the origin of the American image of Santa Claus. It’s also a lovely story to tell your family while curled up in front of a fire. If you want a safe way to get your family or friends into the festive spirit, try hosting a cozy get together over zoom and have a reading of this poem! With hot chocolate of course. 

  1. “The Feast of Lights”– Emma Lazarus

This poem by Emma Lazarus tells the story of the Feast of Lights, also known as Hanukkah or Chanukah. Hanukkah is a Jewish festival that spans over eight days and celebrates the restoration of the Temple. This was thanks to the Maccabees, who Lazarus mentions in this poem. She tells the story of their fight against the Syrians to regain control of their Temple and bring the light back to the Jewish world. She also mentions the menorah, which has become one of the famous symbols of Hanukkah. As someone who is not Jewish but is interested in learning more about the history behind Hanukkah, this was a beautiful source of information. You can feel the pride and excitement in this poem that the Jewish people must have felt when they reclaimed their Temple. If this poem has you curious about the Feast of Lights and the history behind it, there’s some great information about the holiday here

  1. “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”– Robert Frost 

This poem is not what you would consider festive. Instead, it perfectly captures the feeling of winter. Amidst all of the celebrations, it is still a very dark and cold season. If you find yourself growing tired of the festive season and wishing for some quiet, this poem is perfect for you. It’s atmospheric nature allows you to just stop and be in a moment. This poem holds a special place in my heart because it reminds me of the quiet feeling of watching snow fall in the woods. It reminds you of the beauty of nature, despite its dangerous chill. When you read it, you can almost hear the snow fall and the chill of the air. Also because it is one of my sister’s favorite poems that she loves reciting from memory on cold evenings. It’s by a man whose last name is Frost, which never ceases to entertain my pun-loving brain. This is a poem to read in the midst of a silent, snowy night. 

  1. “[little tree]”– E.E. Cummings

When I first read the title of this poem, it made me think of the tiny Charlie Brown tree. In fact, the first few lines of the poem made me wonder if it was truly a baby tree that would flop over from one ornament. It also reminds me of decorating Christmas trees as a child. Pulling out the bright and sparkling decoration and carefully hanging them on each branch. Of course, that was before I was tall enough. Most of my decorating duties were limited to the gingerbread and popsicle ornaments. The voice of this poem sounds like a child like myself talking to the tree as if it was a person. I love how it sounds like a child comforting something through an event that clearly must be scary. My favorite section is when the speaker says “then when you’re quite dressed/ you’ll stand in the window for everyone to see/ and how they’ll stare! /oh but you’ll be very proud”. I can imagine the scene unfolding through a child’s eyes, which is a great way to view the holiday season. So many things are more exciting and beautiful when we channel our inner child, after all.

  1. “For Christmas Day: Hark the Herald Angels Sing”– Charles Wesley

When I stumbled across this poem in my research, I was surprised to see it. I know this poem well, but not written this way. This is a popular hymn to sing in the Christian church during Christmastime. In fact, it is one of my favorite religious Christmas songs. It celebrates the birth of Jesus and talks about what that means for the community celebrating. The poem’s title and repeating lines also reference the angels who sang in celebration when telling the shepherds of Jesus’ birth. It was written in the 18th century by Charles Wesley, who was a Methodist preacher and brother of John Wesley, of the founders of the Methodist denomination in the U.K. He published this work in a collection of hymns and poems in the late 1730s. If you are someone looking for a Christian poem to read for this season, I recommend this one. You can read it and sing it! 

Have you read any of these poems before? Do you have a favorite festive poem that wasn’t on this list? Let me know in the comments below! I hope that all of you have a safe and happy holiday season. I’ll be back next week to celebrate the last Tuesday of 2020! Aren’t we all glad that is a sentence we can say. I’ll be recapping my book and writing goals for the year, and take a look at the year to come. Until then, happy reading and happy holidays!

5 Reason’s Why The Muppet Christmas Carol is the Best Christmas Carol Adaptation

We are currently in the throngs of the most festive months of the year.  In honor of the festive season, I have been binging movies, baking cookies, and decorating my little heart out. After completing decorating part 1 at my sister’s house, we plopped down on her couch and began the festive movie train. In honor of our jovial mood, we selected a recent classic; The Muppet Christmas Carol. Anyone who has seen this movie knows exactly why we had to start off the season with this movie. It is truly a classic that was not in my life until a few years ago. Thanks to the righteous indignation of my roommates, it has now taken a place in my Christmas-loving heart. In fact, I consider it one of the best adaptations of A Christmas Carol, if not the best. Don’t believe me? I’m sure these things will make you reconsider just a bit.

  1. The humor

If you’ve ever watched a Muppet movie, then you know that they have a distinct humor and tone in all their stories. This one is no exception. Among the classic storytelling of Dickens are the quips and visual gags that the Muppets are known for. My own favorite is the heatwave joke, seen in the GIF above. There are boundless great moments with Gonzo and Rizzo as the storytellers. Gonzo takes the role of Dickens, but Rizzo is just along for the ride as himself. They make many jokes about this dynamic that don’t feel overdone or too silly. Just the right amount of situational humor to tie it all together. The most important thing is that the humor doesn’t take away from the story. Many times a joke will drop in before a heartfelt moment, but it leaves enough space for you to appreciate both moments. 

  1. The Songs

The Muppets always have songs that bring a smile to your face. The songs in this film are great at moving the story along and giving you information about the characters and settings. The first song illustrates how disliked Scrooge is in his town before he even mutters a word. It really sells his first “ba humbug” of the film. Other songs teach Scrooge himself about the joys of Christmas and help him grow as a person. The songs also help you sympathize with the Cratchet family. The first time you see Bob and Tiny Tim together, they’re singing a jolly Christmas song. It shows that they already have the joy of Christmas in their hearts, and really sells the sad scene that the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come shows Scrooge. 

  1. The puppets as main characters!

It’s no surprise that The Muppets are in main roles of the story. It is their way after all! Like I mentioned earlier, Gonzo plays a role that many versions of A Christmas Carol don’t include: Charles Dickens! This is a great way for the filmmakers to stay more faithful to the book by having Dickens narrate some of the moments that might not be able to translate to screen. It’s also a great way to keep audiences of all ages engaged in the story. It leads to some great gags with Dickens and Rizzo as they follow Scrooge around. Kermit also makes a great Bob Cratchett. He delivers the wholesome vibe and kindness that the character represents.  

  1. The design and overall vibes

There is a great whimsy to The Muppets version of London. It has the dark and slightly dirty touch of London in that time period that makes it feel real. However, there’s a lot of color and textures to make it feel cheerful for the season. They also have great color contrasts in the puppets that bring light to the set. The houses are all slightly crooked and cartoon-y looking to make the puppets fit in well with the setting of the movie. Somehow the people fit in as well, with their bright colors. Surprisingly, this was the first movie that Brian Henson directed. He did an amazing job at bringing Dickens world to life, with a Muppets twist. 

  1. The true meaning of the story shines through

Something that I really love about this movie is it’s faithfulness to the story’s message. Despite all of the crazy puppets and slightly cartoonish set, the story and themes ring true to Dicken’s story. There are often lines taken directly from the story. The songs add to the source material to further the themes and the plot as I previously stated. Most importantly, it conveys the message of Christmas. Henson worked very hard to make sure that every detail emphasizes the themes of goodwill toward fellow men and changing for the better. It also makes sure to deliver the themes in a way that makes it easy for a younger audience to understand without speaking down to them. It tells all creatures of all ages about the joys of compassion and caring for our fellow man!
What are your thoughts on The Muppet Christmas Carol? Which is your favorite Christmas Carol adaptation and why? Let me know in the comments below! After writing this post, I can’t get the songs from this movie out of my head. I guess I’m due for another rewatch! I am so excited to rewatch other holiday movies and read more holiday-themed books. If you have any movie or book suggestions, let me know in the comments. I hope all of you are staying safe and healthy during this holiday season. Thanks so much for reading everyone, and happy holidays!

For the Spirit of the Season: Giving Tuesday

Instead of the regularly scheduled content of this blog, I wanted to highlight one of the great events happening this week. We had Small Business Sunday and Cyber Monday for our Christmas shopping needs. Today is for the spirit of the season. Today marks the annual Giving Tuesday, a global event that encourages people to do good. It was launched in 2012 in New York and is now it’s own non-profit! They hope to encourage the spirit of the giving season in any way you can. For some this may be a donation, for others it could be helping out a neighbor.

During this year, we’ve seen how a little love and compassion can go a long way. Why not spread the joy when you can? Especially during this season, which is often bittersweet for many. There are so many ways that you can brighten someone’s day during this season. If you have the monetary means, below is a list of places you can fund during this season:

  1. Your local library
  2. St. Jude
  3. Your local place of worship.
  4. A cause you are passionate about.
  5. A local non-profit. You can visit https://greatnonprofits.org/ to find a list of non-profits near you.
  6. Donate canned food to Feeding America or your local shelter.
  7. Habitat for Humanity
  8. The American Cancer Society

If you do not have the monetary means to donate, consider some of these other great ways to help out today:

  1. Donate gently used clothes to a shelter.
  2. If you are crafty, knit or crochet hats, scarves or gloves and donate them to your local shelter.
  3. Volunteer online. You can visit sites like Points of Light to find places to volunteer.
  4. Participate in a build for Habitat for Humanity. They are taking the proper CDC precautions and require face coverings in order to participate.
  5. Donate toys, food, cleaning supplies, blankets, leashes, etc. to your local animal shelter.
  6. Shop for the holidays with Amazon Smile. When you go to https://smile.amazon.com/, you can select a charity. When you use the Smile url, proceeds are donated to the charity of your choice.
  7. Help a neighbor! If you have a neighbor who can’t leave their house due to COVID or other reasons, offer to pick up their groceries. Dropping off a nice note or plate of cookies to cheer them up is also a great option.
  8. If you go to a place of worship, check with the staff and see if any members are having trouble at this time. Many are not able to do things themselves right now and might need assistance with errands. Or they would just love a phone conversation with someone to catch up!
  9. Show your support for the health care workers on the front lines. Their work has never stopped.

If you want some more inspiration, check out Giving Tuesday’s site for more information. They have great resources for individuals, non-profits, and companies who want to participate.

Thanks so much for reading everyone, and happy Giving Tuesday!