Four things we love about the holidays
Four things Seattle Times writers love about the holidays: laughing along with "A Christmas Story," swinging along with Chris Issac's Christmas album, "Arthur Christmas" and decorating with marzipan.
'A Christmas Story'
I can't see the word "fragile" without chuckling and mentally pronouncing it "fra-gee-lay." And I have "A Christmas Story" to thank for that. The big-hearted and wickedly funny holiday tale of a family in 1940s Indiana didn't burn up the box office in 1983. But it gained cult status on TV and inspired a Broadway musical. For the 16th year, TBS will have a 24-hour marathon of the story of young Ralphie's quest for a coveted gift, starting at 8 p.m. Christmas Eve and ending at 8 p.m. Christmas Day. So sit back and enjoy a heaping helping of misunderstood kids and frazzled parents, with sides of leg-shaped lamp, pink bunny PJs, triple dog dares and unruly hunting hounds. But don't even think about putting a BB gun on your list to Santa. You'll shoot your eye out, kid.
Agnes Torres Al-Shibibi, Seattle Times desk editor
Chris Isaak's 'Christmas'
Chris Isaak's 2004 CD has been a staple on my holiday playlist for years now. Whether he's swinging on classics like "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" or taking a jazzy-melancholy turn on "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," Isaak puts you in a yuletide mood without getting saccharine about it. Best of all are Isaak's originals, including "Hey Santa!" with its Tex-Mex horns; "Washington Square" with its I'm-here-and-you're-not lament; and "Gotta Be Good" with its rueful-jokey concession that being good is "easier to say than do" when you're on the road.
Michael Upchurch, Seattle Times arts writer
This sweet almond paste can be used for everything from icing cakes to filling delectable chocolates, but my favorite thing each Christmas is seeing the array of fanciful shapes bakers create. Mermaids, vegetables, roses, even castles — each reminds me of the glitter-dusted tray of marzipan pears and oranges my grandparents brought out in December, signaling the holiday season had begun. They proclaimed the goodies too pretty to eat, but that's a dictate I just can't follow. Sorry, Nana.
Melissa Davis, Weekend Plus editor
The central character in this delightful 2011 computer-animated film is Arthur, Santa's clumsy and underachieving son, who develops a sense of mission when he discovers that one little girl's present has been left behind. Truly a film kids and adults can watch together — the script is hilarious, but the sentiment is pure goodwill toward men. Now available on DVD.
Mary Ann Gwinn, Seattle Times book editor