On his legendary 1963 Christmas Album, American crooner Andy Williams made his adoring fans believe that Christmas truly is “the most wonderful time of the year”. In the five decades since this uplifting song became a hit, something has shifted and Christmas seems to have become seen as a source of anxiety and social pressure. So, to mark the fiftieth anniversary of good ol’ Andy’s Christmas Album release, we’re using his lyrics to revive the joy of Christmas.
“There’ll be parties for hosting…”
While many of us would love to be mulled wine-brewing, mince pie-baking, perfect canapé-crafting, glamorous tree-decorating, immaculate house-cleaning, glass-polishing, hilarious anecdote-telling, beautifully coiffed and manicured host(esse)s, few of us can convincingly pull off the whole shebang by ourselves and live to tell the tale. Relieve some of the pressure: ask a couple of guests to bring a dozen of their favourite canapés; commission your favourite home cook to make the mince pies; charge a reliable friend (with a car) with hiring glasses from the supermarket, and recruit a really good mate to join you for an all-day ‘preparation party’ – chores are always more fun in someone else’s house.
Failing that, turn up at a friend’s place with a pyramid of mince pies and a broad, appreciative smile.
“…marshmallows for toasting…”
Minimal effort, maximum reward. All you need is a bag or two of marshmallows, a toasting fork, and flame of some kind. One imagines good ol’ Andy was envisaging a traditional open fire beneath a stunning floral garland, but a couple of candles will do the job just as well.
“…and carolling out in the snow”
There are many things to love about the United Kingdom, but well-timed weather is rarely one of them. Rather than sitting by the window clutching your festive bobble hat and watching eagerly for the sky to turn grey, seek out a Christmas carol concert nearby and buy your tickets in advance. There’s something basic and heart-warming about hearing and/or singing traditional Christmas carols, and it can be the ideal antidote to a hard day’s gift-wrapping. We’re going to London-based chamber choir Coro’s Christmas concert on Strand. See you there?
“There’ll be scary ghost stories…”
Sadly, Andy has temporarily lost us here. Perhaps this line was intended for his Hallowe’en album.
“…and tales of the glories of Christmases long, long ago”
This is a winner! Christmas is the perfect time to gather your most senior relatives together, arm them with a generous helping of their favourite tipple and ask them all about their childhoods. Just because they suspiciously eye your iPhone as though it just fell from Mars doesn’t mean they aren’t filled with wisdom and cracking stories; their wisdom is from a different age and we can – and should make a conscious effort to – learn a lot from them.
“There’ll be much mistletoeing…”
Even good ol’ Andy couldn’t convincingly make ‘mistletoe’ a verb, but we enjoy the principle and it’s an easy one to admin. Just pop down to your florist or garden centre for a bit of mistletoe, tie a red ribbon around it and hang it strategically to ensure maximum reward.
“…and hearts will be glowing when loved ones are near”
How often do you get your entire extended family under one roof? Shamefully, this happens just once a year in my family as there will always be an obstacle keeping at least one person away throughout the rest of the year. Make the most of it. Hug them tightly, listen to them attentively and thank them enthusiastically for the thought they’ve put into your present. True, you may not have chosen that garish musical Rudolph tie but Great Aunt Beryl found it hilarious, so flash her a cheeky smile and fling it round your neck with gusto.
When you get buffeted with a wave of festive list-writing anxiety, turn to Andy Williams. Christmas really can be a source of great joy and merriment – if you let it.
Andy Williams, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”:
(This is just good ol’ Andy singing the song by himself on a stage, with his twinkling Hollywood smile) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=73UqDX_quk0
(This is a wonderfully camp staged performance with dancers, featuring an interruption from the show announcer) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L5mf0lLC6P4