I think I can speak for us all when I say the last few weeks have been chaotic. Between looming end-of-year deadlines, sick kids, Christmas activities, and ever-growing holiday to-do lists, my conversationalist quest has taken the back burner (and the back burner has long-since burnt out). Yet, I took a little break this morning to infuse my week with some extra Christmas spirit and to pick up a few conversationalist tidbits. After all, if there is ever a time that you need to be a good conversationalist, the holidays are it! Here are a few of the things that I read, watched, and listened to that brought me some joy and are worthy of sharing. Hope you can take a quick break from your schedule and enjoy these as well!
The World's Best Christmas Markets
I've never been to Europe in the winter, but I dream of going and enjoying the famed Christmas markets. Until then, I love looking at pictures of them each Christmas and especially enjoyed The World's 17 Best Christmas Markets. (Admittedly, I skimmed - at best - the descriptions in this list and focused almost solely on the pictures). They're stunning and magical, and you can't help but being in the Christmas spirit after having a look!
Every year, while driving to Grandma and Granpa's, my husband and I anxiously wait for a few minutes when the kids are asleep so we can listen to David Sedaris's The Santaland Diaries. I've probably heard it 10 times, and I laugh out loud every single time. There've been many adaptations since it originally aired in 1992, but you can listen to the original version - it's only 8 minutes - here. Worth every minute!
For some low-stakes, small talk at parties and gatherings this year, have a quick read of 12 Facts About 'The 12 Days of Christmas.' Arguably this is a little obscure, but it was interesting, and I'll have fun discussing it with anyone that'll listen. And brace yourself if you encounter me in a social setting in the near future because I also picked up a few things from Buzz Feed's 25 Surprising Facts About Classic Christmas Songs and Listverse's 10 Hidden Facts About Christmas Songs. There's nothing earth-shattering about it, but I enjoyed every new fact.
The History of Christmas
I can't help but throw some history into this list. I loved reading The History Channel's History of Christmas and picking up some fascinating tidbits about the transformation of Christmas celebrations. I did not know that at one point Christmas involved raucous, carnival-style celebrations, nor did I know that Christmas was at one point outlawed in Boston. Plus, writers everywhere will particularly enjoy the nod given to Washinton Irving and Charles Dickens and their role in shaping the peaceful, family-centered Christmas that we now know and love.
There's nothing particularly deep or heavy about this story, but it's a quick read that reminded me about some of the sweetest parts of the season. It also provided some good context for having santa-related conversations and what Santa is about. I learned something from it and hopefully can teach my little people something from it as well!
The Best Christmas Light Displays
Europe might have the best Christmas markets (I wanted to say "cornered the market," but showed great restraint), yet we're holding our own with Christmas light displays here in the States. Check out the pictures from The Top 10 Holiday Light Displays and perhaps even visit one that's close to you! While 9 of those are professional displays, there are some stunning residential displays across the country. Did you know that there's a website to search for displays near you?! Every year we do an evening of driving around, listening to Christmas music, and looking at lights. This generally involves lots of meandering and searching, but now that I've found this gem, The Original Christmas Light Finder, I'll be plotting a course before we go - you just enter your zip code and get a list of visit-worthy displays near you. This was a jaw-dropping find today. I'll be telling everyone I know about it!
These provided me with a good break from the holiday chaos, a nice infusion of holiday spirit, and a good dose of relaxation. Hope they did the same for you!