Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Top 5 Holiday Secrets by Jessica Hawke

“Hi, This is Jessica the Elf, What’s Your Favorite Color?”

Warning: The following contains sentimentality, saccharine, and trace amounts of sap. The creator is a Christmas nut and cannot be held liable for any unexplained comfort and joy.

Favorite Holiday Movie
There are three holiday movies that always find their way to the DVD player this time of year: Home Alone, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, and Elf. Home Alone is a long-standing tradition for my dad and me. It started when I was a kid, but even when I went off to college, we’d sit up on Christmas Eve and watch Home Alone. Even now, it’s the first movie that springs to mind when I think of Christmas. In fact, when I flew to Las Vegas a few months ago, I had a super delayed flight and had to sprint across four concourses. I swear to you that I heard the Nutcracker in my head and pictured myself running at the front of a pack of McAllisters through the Charlotte Airport.

National Lampoon is a classic, simply for its quotability. I aspire to decorate my house as obnoxiously as the Griswolds some day. Bonus points if my neighbors are blinded.

Finally, there’s Elf. Buddy the Elf is my spirit animal, and I love Christmas as much as he does. If Elf is on TV, I will stop and watch it. (Thank you, ABC Family for enabling my addiction.)

Favorite Holiday Tradition
My other other job (after teaching and writing!) is playing as a freelance musician. For the last several years, I’ve played in the orchestra for a musical production of A Christmas Carol.
It’s a fun show that captures the spirit of Christmas. Even if I’ve already got the tree trimmed and presents wrapped, I feel like the Christmas season really starts on opening night of this show, when the snow falls and Tiny Tim shouts, “God bless us, every one!”

Favorite Holiday Song
O Holy Night has been my favorite Christmas song for as long as I can remember. However, I admit to being an insufferable snob about it. To me, O Holy Night is like the National Anthem. It’s a song that speaks for itself and resonates in the listener. And much like the National Anthem, a lot of singers get in the way of it, putting on a show of vocal acrobatics that just distracts from the point. They deal in “listen to me” not “hear the music speak.”

There is a serenity and a mystery about Christmas, and most versions of O Holy Night do try to capture it. But no one, and I mean no one, sings it like Josh Groban does.
His voice is absolutely divine, but he doesn’t show off or put himself in front of the music. He is the music, and he makes it magical. I also suspect that he is not one hundred percent human, but that’s another story for another time.

Why I Love the Holidays
I love the holidays because the world seems to gain hope for a time. There is magic in the air, like fairy dust that sinks down into aching hearts. People are inspired to be generous, engaging in random acts of kindness and reaching out to their fellow man. On a more personal level, I love the buildup to Christmas itself. I love destroying my kitchen to bake for goody boxes and trashing my living room with wrapping paper scraps and shopping bags. I love the smells of cinnamon and leaves burning, and I love that I can listen to Christmas music twenty four hours a day. Yes, I’m that person who has absolutely no problem when the Christmas displays go up the day after Halloween. Haters gonna hate.

My Holiday Wish for the World
Let me cue up the Miss America speech I will never give. (Because swimsuit competitions are a whole world of no.)

I wish for peace on earth and goodwill toward men. No, seriously. Not just the obvious peace – no more war, no more hate – but peace for each soul on the earth. It seems like the world grows darker and scarier every day; school shootings, terrorist attacks, the Westboro Baptist Church... Even beyond the extreme, many people face – and lose – the constant struggle to keep a roof overhead and food on the table. I wish they could find peace through the goodwill of others. I see so many acts of kindness at the holidays, but the cynical side of me wonders why it should be limited to the holidays. There are always people in need. So my holiday wish is for peace for every heart and soul, and for people to kindle that little spark of holiday generosity into a flame that burns strong all year. (Want to do something? Consider a donation to your local food bank or the Red Cross as your Christmas gift to the world!)

To all of you and yours, Merry Christmas, and may the season find you happy and healthy!


Jessica Hawke is the author of Phantom Touch. Learn more about Jessica and her books by clicking here.


  1. I haven't seen Home Alone in a few years, it's a great movie. And I'm with you on world peace. It's a scary world, and it really doesn't have to be. Happy Holidays!

    1. It really doesn't! I sounds very kindergarten teacher (which, not surprisingly, I once was!), but why can't people just be nice to each other? That would solve about 99% of the world's problems.

  2. O Holy Night. Hands down. FAVORITE. Totally agree with your comments about it. :) Merry Christmas.

  3. Okay, I had to google this, and you're right, Josh Groban has the #1 version of O Holy Night... but Johnny Mathis does it better. He does all the Christmas carols better. He's right up there with the Peanuts Christmas album as go-to have-to-have Christmas CDs....

    ... but thank you for introducing me to a great runner up ;-)

    1. Oh no! I am going to have to go and listen to it and see how Johnny stacks up against my Josh. :) I also love the Peanuts album!

  4. I love everything about this post... I think we might be soulmates.

  5. Me too on the Elf and Christmas Vacay! Die laughing every time--even though I can recited both movies. *wipes a tear* Oh Buddy.

  6. I'm not surprised that I agree with you on every count here, but most especially Josh Groban winning the O Holy Night competition. I have actually heard people MOCK his version of it and it makes me both weep and feel homicidal...all at once.

  7. I love Home Alone! Ah, the memories. Always makes me want to eat mac 'n cheese.