Song 17 is Nella Fantasia, by Ennio Morricone and Chiara Ferrau:
And in that version it's performed by the Gimnazija Kranj Girls Choir at their Christmas concert.
There's a bit of legend behind that song: Morricone wrote the song Gabriel's Oboe in 1986 for the film The Mission, and from there Sarah Brightman says that she wrote Morricone every other month until he consented to let her add lyrics to it -- but most people credit the lyrics to Ferrau, instead.
The singers are singing in Italian, which I'm told is a real language. I learn something new every day! In English, according to Wikipedia, the lyrics translate to:
In my imagination I see a fair world,
Everyone lives in peace and in honesty there.
I dream of souls that are always free, Like the clouds that fly,
Full of humanity in the depths of the soul.
In my imagination I see a bright world,
Even the night is less dark there.
I dream of souls that are always free, Like clouds that fly.
In my imagination there exists a warm wind,
That breathes on the cities, like a friend.
I dream of souls that are always free, Like clouds that fly,
Full of humanity in the depths of the soul.
Which seems to me to be as Christmas-y as lots of other songs, if not moreso, and so I'm including it.
Then song 18 is Angels We Have Heard On High, by
I'm picking that song because it was my mom's favorite song. My mom's birthday is December 15, and she would have been 66 yesterday, had she not passed away two years ago just after Christmas. It's not my favorite version of that song, but it's a version I think she would approve of, and so I'm posting it here. I make a lot of jokes about my mom's Christmas rules and the effort she put into them, but the truth is that she loved Christmas a lot and wanted it to be special every year, and despite all the hassles, it was. Part of why I run my own Christmases the way I do is that I know that no matter how hard I try, I'll never recapture the feeling of those early childhood Christmases, when my mom would make her fudge and lemon squares and press cookies, and they were laid out on the silver, double-tiered cookie tray on our kitchen table with it's used-at-Christmas-only green tablecloth, and the entire family would come over and spend the night laughing and joking and singing Christmas carols and playing ping-pong and once, even, Santa came to our party and we all thought at first he was just Uncle Doug in a costume, but Uncle Doug was there, too.
Trying to recreate that would cheapen the memory and never be possible; those memories are shiny because they are memories. Now, I try to create my own special memories for my own family so that someday, they can sit and remember, amongst all the snarky comments, that there were some great times, too.
Must be some dust in the air.
On to the snark: The Best Santas, Etc., which, remember, I'm listing here each day, too, and today's Best Santa Or Whatever is...
You don't know Larry Stewart, probably, but you should.
Every year, there is a Secret Santa in a city who goes around handing out $100 bills to people at random on the street.
This year, in Reading, PA, a man walked around handing out $100 bills to people, and sometimes praying with them; he got on a bus and passed out hundred-dollar bills like they were candy canes.
Last year, a man handed out $10,000 to people in Kansas City. In 2008, a woman handed out money to shoppers in Sedalia, Kansas. A man in a Santa suit gave out $10,000 at a Goodwill store in Maine in 2009. In 2007, a Secret Santa handed out $20,000 in Phoenix, including giving a man enough money to get a place to live that year.
Maybe not all those people were inspired by Larry Stewart, but he's the name I associate with this phenomenon. For 26 years, Larry Stewart every year handed out hundred dollar bills in Kansas City at Christmas time; he estimated before his death that he'd given away $1,300,000 that way.
In that article I linked to, Stewart says he remembered a time he hadn't eaten for two days and went into a diner and pretended he'd lost his wallet; the owner came out and pretended he'd found a $20 bill and bought him the meal.
Years later, Stewart says, he went back and gave that diner owner $10,000. And so on. No tax breaks are gained by handing out money to random strangers. Stewart just did it for the sake of helping others.
I'm not rich. But if I ever am, I'll do stuff like that. This year, we used a chunk of our money we had and not only gave all the people involved with our twins $20 each -- right down to the bus drivers-- but we got one of those "Giving Tree" cards and bought the kid "Xbox 360 Batman: Arkham Asylum" and I'm going to give some presents to the Shaw twins I keep haranguing everyone about. I have a lot of good stuff in my life; other people need some good stuff in theirs.
16. You'll Never Find My Christmas, Bishop Allen, and Gizmo the Mogwai
15. The Twelve Days of Christmas, by Bob & Doug McKenzie, plus Bad Santa.
14. When the River Meets The Sea, by John Denver, plus "Doc Bullfrog."
13. All I Want For Christmas, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and The Santa who helped Superman fight Toyman.
12. We Need A Little Christmas, Glee version, and The Holiday Armadillo.
11, 10, 9: The Little Drummer Boy, Johnny Cash; What Christmas Means To Me, Stevie Wonder; What's This, by Julia Nunes and Ian Axel, and "The Santa From A Nightmare Before Christmas".
8. Taste The Coast, by Admiral Fallow
7. Dringo Bell, Mediaeval Babes
6. Born Is The King (It's Christmas) by Hillside
5: Tijuana Christmas by The Border Brass
4. Christmas Griping, REM
3. A Christmas Waltz, She & Him
2. Don't Shoot Me, Santa, The Killers
1. Snoopy's Christmas, The Royal Guardsmen