Review 2020: This Blog.

About Yesterday I attempted to write something about the good things which have happened this year, but unlike 2016 it felt like complimenting the catering at a wake. Even though it's become increasingly difficult to conjure anything longer than a tweet, there has been some writing on this blog so I thought I'd link to some of that instead.

On the 7th January, Elizabeth Wurtzel's death was announced and how we've missed her voice in all of this. As I said then, she "was someone who loomed very large for me, in my life and writing. Her fearless, raw openness and bravery in pushing the barrier in expressing the inexpressible, which often got her into trouble." 

By the end of that month, I'd initiated a new blog project, The Coffee Collection, photos of beverages in their hospitality settings, which reminds me that my visit to Lichfield was this year. For at least six months, I've assumed it was in 2019. 

January also heralded the appearance of a whole new incarnation of the Doctor and in the gap between Fugitive of the Judoon and The Timeless Child, I wrote this speculative post about where the Jo Martin version came from. In the event, I was half right. The whole business of the Doctor not even being a Time Lord in the first place was a conceptual leap too far. 

Just at the start of lockdown, I began cognitive behavioral therapy which was to have been in person but ended up over the phone, with the therapist calling from her own home. In the end, I was signed off because she didn't think there was much more for me to learn - that I already had all of the coping mechanisms in place that she would have taught me. I'd entirely forgotten that back in February, I'd actually posted a lot of these on this very blog

Letterboxd tells me that I've watched 373 films so far this year, which is probably higher than average. In February, I explained my use of their scoring mechanism in all of its tedious detail. 

The most popular new blog post this year by far, was this selection of screencaps from Doctor Who's The Timeless Child annotating all of the images in her memory dump. Still bummed they didn't manage to fit in Koquillian or the Monoids. 

The last time I went anywhere nice, or at all was the 9th March when I began visiting all of the London tube stations in order which on reflection seems amazing reckless. But at that point I didn't have any clue about how the virus was spread and even remember wiping down one of the bars in a train carriage before holding it, despite the fact no one was wearing a mask and all crammed in together. God knows when I'll get to Shepherd's Bush Market and Hammersmith.

A week later, yes really, the whole country was in full lockdown.  Still unjaded and full of enthusiasm, I was blogging about how to make the most of streaming services and began offering a daily selection of entertainment which lasted a whole fourteen entries before the magnitude of what was hitting us sent me low for a bit.

The blog mostly became a link blog for the Summer.

Come Autumn, the tyranny of choice in film was really beginning to take hold and I wrote about strategies to cope.

Then in November, Biden won and other than this look back across the year, that's the longest piece of writing I've been able to produce since.  

Hopefully next year the words will flow again.  Until then, Happy New Year!

Predictions 2020.

That Day We reach the time when I assess how well I predicted the ups and downs of the year and look forward to the next. Here we go again:

The Sugababes releases a whole new album.

Fuck no. Siobhan has disappeared, Kiesha has a YouTube channel and Mutya has gone full Qanon. No marks..

A commercial technology is developed to algorithmically convert standard definition material to high definition quality.

Gigapixel AI exists but I suppose I was really looking for commercial releases which use this technology rather than just standard upscaling. No marks.

The Doctor Who Omnirumour turns out to be true, almost all episodes returned.

No, and in fact they've now animated Web 3 and Morris have full gammon.

Piers Morgan sacked.

Not yet. No marks.

The Arden Shakespeare Series Three publishes Arden of Faversham.

No and the publication of Arden Shakespeare Third Series Complete Works indicates this isn't happening. There's always the Fourth series. See you in twenty years. No marks.

0/5 which is seems fitting for 2020. Right then, 2021.

Our family gets the vaccine.

We stay safe until we get the vaccine.

We go shopping in the city centre.

I visit London.

I lose my lockdown weight.

In previous years, they would have seemed like extremely low bars. In 2021, they will feel like major achievements.

Review 2020:

Films The chances are this will be the only "Review" post which mostly exists so that there won't be a gap in the tag list. Hello. I hope you all had a lovely season, such as it has been what with one thing and another. Ours fortunately hasn't been too different to previous years - we're a small family and don't have too many relatives visit most years anyway. 

To the point. Because of the pandemic, most of the films this year have been available for streaming almost as soon as they were released so for once I feel like I'm in a position to produce a list, even though I spent half the year watching back catalogue.  Finally collecting all of Empire Magazine, I've been reminded of a few of the films which I've otherwise missed or forgotten about.  

Anyway, here are the films released in 2020 in the UK which I gave five stars on Letterboxd:

Happiest Season
Totally Under Control
The Trial of the Chicago 7
Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)
Queen & Slim
Enola Holmes
I'm Thinking of Ending Things
The Booksellers
A Beautiful Day In The Neighbourhood
Jojo Rabbit
The Hunt
The Old Guard
Woman Make Film: A New Road Move Through Cinema
Athlete A
The Vast of Night
Portrait of a Lady on Fire

Which even omitting the four star list (which I will because there's too many of them) is still an incredibly strong year for the medium of cinema, if not the physical architecture.

There are a couple of items on the list I've perhaps been a bit generous with (Mulan, The Hunt) but there's not one there I wouldn't want to watch again right now, which has always been my rule when choosing five star films.

If I had to narrow things down to a top five:

Portrait of a Lady on Fire
Totally Under Control
Birds of Prey

Which feels incredibly mainstream, but this has not been the year for watching French people in various stages of grief against a backdrop of rural poverty.  Hopefully next year.

Christmas Links #24

How 5 New Yorkers Are Coping with Holidays Alone:
"On March 12, I took my last subway ride home from work. I was listening to John Cale’s “Dying on the Vine” while standing in the middle of a cramped car. I could feel tension in the air — a mix of fear and uncertainty. As New Yorkers retreated indoors, many struggled with a new kind of loneliness."

A Christmas gift: Stories of the quest for connection:
"It’s been a year of defying basic human needs. The need to be with each other. The need to touch and to hold. The need to explore and discover."

Frying-pan pizza and frozen grapes: Guardian readers’ best kitchen tips from lockdown:
"With most people spending more time at home this year, it has been a chance to come up with some ingenious culinary hacks."

Why is Japan obsessed with KFC on Christmas?
"Like other Western customs, celebrating Christmas has become popular in Japan. But forget about the roasted turkey — fast-food chicken is an essential part of any Japanese Christmas celebration."

Alan Bennett's Diary 2020: A Round of Applause:
"1 January 2020, Yorkshire. A bright cold day and not one to be hanging about on our local station’s single platform, even with its vast view over the fells and the occasional heron."

Olympians and Paralympians told to brush teeth for Christmas:
"The messaging in Christmas cards sent to British Olympians and Paralympians may be a bit odd this year, but it is for a good reason."

‘She Was Freezing and Mad’: The Story Behind This Famous Slim Aarons Christmas Photo:
"Each year, come this season, a certain Slim Aarons photo makes the rounds on Instagram. It features a bathing beauty floating in a pool, bobbing alongside metallic holiday ornaments. Behind her, three children play with the floating, shining orbs."

The Borrowed Customs and Traditions of Christmas Celebrations:
"While Christmas is ostensibly a Christian celebration of the birth of Jesus, many of the rituals and customs come from other traditions, both spiritual and secular."

Eyes Wide Shut is an anti-consumerist holiday classic:
"Stanley Kubrick’s final film contains a thinly-veiled critique of the vulgar excess and materialism of Christmas." [via]

Veggie Christmas, 1985:
"BBC News reports on the growing number of vegetarians and vegans in the UK, who will be tucking in to the likes of cashew nut and mushroom roast and puréed chestnuts en croute for Christmas dinner."

Christmas Links #23

Southport couple find 4ft python behind tumble dryer:
"A couple were left hiss-terical after finding a 4ft (1.2m) royal python curled up behind their tumble dryer."

Successful, Sentimental And Satirized, 'Love Story' Celebrates 50th Anniversary:
"Fifty years ago, a simple but tragic love story became a global sensation that stunned the entertainment industry. Love Story, the romantic tearjerker starring Ryan O'Neal and Ali MacGraw, broke box office records and the book it was based on was a bestseller that was translated into more than 30 languages."

A Choir Tries to Keep Its Christmas Tradition Alive:
"The Choir of King’s College, Cambridge, spent months rehearsing for its Christmas Eve service, which is broadcast worldwide. Its hope was to perform it live."

The legend of panettone, Italy’s mythical Christmas cake:
"It began in Milan, but bakers across Italy keep the centuries-old tradition alive."

'Whamageddon' is secretly the best Christmas tradition:
"Can you make it to December 25th without hearing 'Last Christmas'?

All that glitters: UK retailers shift away from plastic Christmas:
"Manufacturers and shops remove millions of pieces of single-use plastic from their ranges."

Literary Scholars Discover First Draft Of ‘A Christmas Carol’ Where All 4 Ghosts Show Up At Once And Just Beat The Shit Out Of Scrooge:
"This incredible manuscript shows how Dickens developed the story from his original concept of a gang of malevolent spirits absolutely wailing on Ebenezer Scrooge into the iconic holiday classic we know and love today ..."

A Taste of the German Christmas Market at Home: Glühwein mit Schuss:
"Normally at this time of year, the German-speaking lands of Central Europe would be bustling with Weihnachtsmärkte (Christmas markets) or Christkindlmärkte (Christ Child markets), filled with food, drink, good cheer, and other longstanding traditional activities. But nothing seems to be normal in 2020, so almost all of those markets never opened."

10 Christmas coffee recipes you need to try this festive season:
"From cinnamon to gingerbread syrup to marshmallows..."

When to Take Down Your Christmas Tree:
"If only the holidays could last throughout the winter months—the twinkling lights and Christmas cookies make the cold and dark so much more bearable."

Christmas Links #22

'The Scrooge guy called us all mutants': when Christmas grottos go wrong:
"Disappointed parents in the UK and Australia decry traffic jams and scary decorations."

The Queen’s Gambit (2020):
[Editor's Note: The Art of the Title interviews Saskia Marka and David Whyte, title designer and animators for credits sequence.]

BBC Radio2 listeners vote It's A Wonderful Life their favourite Christmas movie of all time:
"It’s a Wonderful Life has been voted by Radio 2 listeners to be their favourite Christmas film of all time. A long list of 25 classics to choose from was created by the network’s resident movie critic, James King."

Bob And Robin's Excellent Holiday Adventure:
"All Songs Considered hosts Bob Boilen and Robin Hilton set out on a road trip to find the true spirit of the holiday season. Along the way they stop at the Silent Night Motel, where they meet Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips, St. Vincent (Annie Clark), Josh Ritter and more."

Can We Talk About the Mom in ‘A Christmas Story’?
"The woman hasn’t had a hot meal in 15 years and she’s always cooped up at home. 2020 is the year to give this character from a classic holiday movie her due."

The best pictures of the Royal Family at Christmas:
"Those royals sure do love Christmas. From the festive-themed engagements in the run-up, to the annual church service at Sandringham, their typical seasonal schedule is packed full of family festive traditions."

Winter solstice 2020: The shortest day is long on ancient pagan traditions:
"For six months, the days have grown shorter and the nights have grown longer in the Northern Hemisphere. But that's about to reverse itself."

How Well Do You Know The Lyrics To Mariah Carey’s ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You’?
"to see a whale with legs"

Wild in the City: Twelve days of Christmas for birdwatchers:
"No matter how hard you try, you’ll struggle to see a partridge in a pear tree in London this Christmas. Not least because partridges tend to stick to the ground, even flying low when startled."

Physics student makes world's smallest Christmas tree:
"Every year, people all over the world try to make the biggest artificial Christmas tree, like the Gubbio Christmas Tree, formed by thousands of lights on the slopes of Mount Ingino, or the illumination of the 372-meter high transmission mast at Lopik in The Netherlands."

Christmas Links #21

We're having a sustainable Christmas:
"Lots of people want to be more green, and retailers are increasingly betting that consumers will shift their spending habits."

The big picture: Santa takes a coffee break, New York, 1962:
"Leonard McCombe’s photo is part of an American tradition of capturing Saint Nick off-duty."

The Best Christmas Traditions in Italy:
"Christmas is a major holiday in Italy… which means Italians celebrate lots of great, unique Christmas traditions! Across Italy, Natale tends to be a family-centric holiday, a time to stay at home (and eat!) with loved ones."

Queen Elizabeth will deliver her Christmas Day message via Alexa this year, if you ask:
"You don’t need to live in the UK."

Sushi bake for Noche Buena:
"It’s something fun to consider adding to your Christmas feast."

Here they come a-caroling:
"The Memorial Church and the Harvard University Choir will present a virtual Christmas Eve service."

‘Unbelievable co-operation’ restores burnt house in time for Christmas:
"Roscommon community pull together to get 74-year-old man back in his childhood home."

The History Of Christmas:
"The origins of Christmas stretch back thousands of years to prehistoric celebrations around the midwinter solstice. And many of the traditions we cherish today have been shaped by centuries of changing beliefs, politics, technology, taste and commerce."

If your post sent with Royal Mail hasn’t arrived:
"If you’ve ordered something online, over the phone or in a shop, the seller is responsible for getting it delivered to you. If it doesn’t arrive, read our advice on what to do."

Growing up, my Muslim family never celebrated Christmas:
"This year I am not going home, because pandemic, so my roommates are teaching me how to have my first proper Christmas. I am approaching this with anthropological precision. Here are a few observations."

Christmas links #20

‘Wonder Woman 1984’ Gets Early PVOD Release in U.K.:
"“Wonder Woman 1984” will get a premium VOD release in the U.K. a month after the film’s premiere, Warner Bros. has confirmed."

From Bake Off woes to Zoom fiascos: 2020 in lists:
"The year’s cultural highs and lows, featuring Gal Gadot’s Imagine, terrible lyrics about lockdown and unexpected horniness."

Parler Users Are Gathering on Facebook to Complain About Parler:
"Seeming more like social solitude than social networking so far." [via]

A Day in the Life of The Young Ones: 6th February 1984:
"It’s the 6th February 1984 in studio TC4, and Rik Mayall is having a circular saw aimed at his knackers."

Blast of cold air grips Northeast with fresh snow as Christmas storm approaches:
"A blast of cold air, exacerbated by a fresh snowpack, is impacting parts of the Northeast Saturday morning."

Old Blogging Sites That We Thought were Gone:
"There are many old blogging sites we all have forgotten now that social media is such a big part of our lives. Little do teenagers now know, blogging was the viral craze for teenage millenials back in the late 1990s and early 2000s. At the time, there were so many websites where anyone could post their journals for free."

Sorry, Wham! haters: The only thing wrong with ‘Last Christmas’ is how you’ve been listening to it:
"Earlier this month, I offered some musical stocking stuffers: a set of piano miniatures that seemed to me particularly suited to this holiday season, eschewing compulsory merriment and ho-ho-ho’s in favor of the silvery stillness and somber notes I think this winter truly warrants."

The Enduring Appeal of Santa:
"Shortly before Christmas several years ago, there erupted a cable-and-Internet fueled firestorm, a furious debate among television pundits and talk-show hosts, print and online pontificators, and doubtless more than a few families across the dinner table. This great American outrage was ginned up over the nature of Santa Claus."

10 Creative Christmas Mantle Decoration Ideas:
"The Christmas season is fast approaching, and before you know it, you’ll be hanging mistletoe and wrapping gifts to the tune of your favorite carols. It can be challenging to reinvent your holiday decor year after year, but there are simple changes you can make to give your home a new and cozy look this holiday season."

Christmas Holiday: Resources for Celebrating:
"When the red and green lights and wreaths appear and the sounds of familiar carols echo in the streets,it’s time to celebrate the Christmas holiday again."

Christmas Links #19

Scientists looking for aliens investigate radio beam 'from nearby star':
"Tantalising ‘signal’ appears to have come from Proxima Centauri, the closest star to the sun."

Holiday Rom-Coms Go Beyond Diversity To Center New Christmas Stars:
"Christmas romantic comedies are known for cozy sweaters, roaring fireplaces, meaningful glances over cups of hot chocolate and stars who, until recently, looked like a bunch of models from a Land's End catalog circa 1985."

‘I Don’t Like It’: Rome Reacts to Nativity Scene:
"The Vatican’s new Christmas Nativity scene in St. Peter’s Square has prompted much criticism — and some head-scratching, with some trying to understand exactly what they were looking at."

13 cities across Europe will be linked with new night train routes:
"Sleeper trains in Europe are poised to make a huge comeback after four national railway companies announced new routes that will link up 13 cities across the continent."

I'm going to tell you my Concorde story:
"Many years ago the UK radio presenter Chris Evans was supposed to go on a private plane to Minneapolis to meet Prince. They had a spare seat and asked me if I wanted it. I said, "YES I DO."

GOP lawmakers' second Christmas tree vanishes from Wisconsin Capitol:
"The earlier attempt had been thwarted by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, who said no permit had been provided for the display and that the coronavirus pandemic had closed the building to the public."

Christmas TV 2020:
"The home of Christmas across BBC television."

National Theatre dashes to save Christmas spirit with Dick Whittington film:
"As theatres are forced to close for the third time this year, the panto was recorded at its final preview as a gift for families."

UK spy agency challenges 'wise men and women' to solve Christmas card puzzle:
"The UK's largest spy agency GCHQ has sent out its annual Christmas card complete with a brainteaser."

Economists want you to have the most boring Christmas possible:
"According to the economic theory of deadweight loss, cash is by far the best Christmas present for people who want to make gift-giving as efficient as possible."

Christmas Links #18

The Christmas Creamguide Week Two:
"Welcome to the second part of your bumper Christmas Creamguide, which includes all the programmes for the rest of 2020, before we see out this bloody awful year and look optimistically towards a better one."

Free Games:
"Epic Games Store gives you a free game every week. Come back often for the exclusive offers. Download a free game or join a free-to-play game community today." [Editor's note: This is actually every day over Christmas].

How to Play a Fiery Victorian Christmas Game and Not Get Burned:
"Snapdragon is not for the faint-hearted."

Christmas Around the World:
"Find out how Christmas Traditions and how Christmas is celebrated in lots of different countries and cultures around the world!" [via]

6 Christmas foods to help fuel your training runs:
"The festive buffet table could actually help your running performance rather than hinder it."

Liverpool Biennial & Culture Liverpool Announce New Public Artwork by Nathan Coley:
"Coley’s text-based light sculpture is made up of the words From Here, All the Worlds Futures, From Here, All the Worlds Pasts."

I brought my kids to the Devil for Christmas. And they’re fine. Right?
"He was covered in dark, full-body fur, horns curling out of his head, rattling his heavy chains at my sweet little boys. The Devil."

'I've never felt less festive': the art of writing Christmas novels, 365 days a year:
"Drinking sherry, bingeing Downton Abbey ... how authors keep up the spirit of the season, even when writing during heatwaves and a nightmarish Christmas."

bluemarlin Redesigns Buckwud Organic Maple Syrup:
"bluemarlin recently redesigned Buckwud Organic Canadian Maple Syrup. Buckwud began its life in the UK as a premium brand with a quirky Canadian personality. It is now the single largest branded maple syrup on the market, loved for its distinctive taste and used as a natural, plant-based option to alternative sweeteners."

‘Star Trek: Lower Decks’ Headed To Amazon Prime In UK, Europe, Australia & More Countries:
"The wait for many fans outside of North America is over. The adult animated comedy Star Trek: Lower Decks is finally going overseas, with a January debut on Amazon Prime Video."

Christmas Links #17

The Christmas Creamguide Week One:
"And welcome to the 21st annual Christmas Creamguide! We thought we’d be really struggling for new content this year but there’s some very interesting stuff, as well as some intriguing repeats, for your delectation, as well as a host of fascinating films which the Filmguide gang will be here to discuss."

Christmas Idents at the BBC Motion Graphics Archive:
"Christmas on BBC One Christmas Tree - ident (1996)"

The story of the other Muppets Christmas special:
"Long before Toy Story, the Muppets were telling a similar story – here’s the tale of the Muppet Christmas tale that preceded Christmas Carol."

After Searching for a Decade, Legendary Hollywood Research Library Finds a New Home:
"Need to know what an Igloo really looks like? How about a Siberian hut? Or the inside of a 15th Century jail? For 50 years in Hollywood, generations of filmmakers would beat a path to the Michelson Cinema Research Library, where renowned film researcher Lillian Michelson could hunt down the answer to just about any question."

"The things that helped us survive 2020."

Long Island Christmas tree farm gets magical rainbow makeover:
"When it comes to farming Christmas trees on Long Island, Ed Dart likes to keep it fresh and fun with his creative ideas on his farm."

Inside the making of the first-ever Doctor Who holiday special:
"Executive producer Russell T Davies recalls how he, David Tennant, and Billie Piper kicked off an enduring holiday-season tradition."

The Best of ‘This American Life’: 25th Anniversary Episodes:
"The show pioneered a new form of audio narrative journalism. Listen to some classics selected by the show’s host, Ira Glass."

Amid Australian lobster glut, supermarkets impose purchase limits:
"In Australia, there has rarely been a better time to feast on lobster. So long as you don’t eat more than four."

Band Aid: The Charitable—and Controversial—History of 'Do They Know It's Christmas?':
"Bob Geldof, to his mounting horror, realized Boy George was missing."

Christmas Links #16

How Retail Workers Deal With Nonstop Christmas Music Without Going Nuts:
"I heard ‘All I Want for Christmas Is You’ 27 times last week — I counted."

Doctor Who HiFive Inventor Coding Kit:
"BBC Learning and Tynker Collaborate on Coding for Kids with a Next-Generation Education Technology Mini-Computer and Coding for Kids Featuring the voice and star of the Thirteenth Doctor, Jodie Whittaker, the HiFive Inventor is a powerful Internet of Things programmable computer designed to teach kids to code."

With Most Pantomimes Canceled, Another Blow to U.K. Theaters:
"Camp, kid-friendly and hugely popular, the peculiarly British performances usually sell enough tickets to support theaters’ programs throughout the rest of the year."

The 'longest-ever photo exposure' has been found -- inside a drink can:
"A photo tracking the sun's cycles over more than eight years -- believed to be the longest exposure image ever taken -- has been discovered inside a cider can."

Blob Opera:
"Blob Opera is a machine learning experiment by David Li in collaboration with Google Arts and Culture. This experiment pays tribute to and explores the original musical instrument: the voice. Play four opera voices in real time. No singing skills required!"

The New Yorker publishes editor’s note invalidating award-winning feature on Japan:
"An award-winning 2018 New Yorker story now has a whopper of an editor’s note atop it. In “A Theory of Relativity," published in April 2018, staff writer Elif Batuman profiled a Japanese company called Family Romance, which supplies actors who sub in for missing family members. Need to convince your parents that you have a girlfriend? Need to convince your girlfriend that you have parents? Family Romance can help. The story won a National Magazine Award for feature writing from the American Society of Magazine Editors in March 2019. And on Sunday night, it collapsed."

PEACE AND LOVE FOR CHRISTMAS, Lyceum Ballroom, London, 15 Dec 1969:
"John & Yoko and the Plastic Ono Supergroup secretly headline the UNICEF fundraising Xmas concert at Lyceum Strand, 15 Dec 1969."

How Hallmark Took Over Cable Television:
"By “leaning into Christmas”—and claiming to avoid politics—the greeting-card company has come to dominate screens across America."

Saddleback Church creates ‘Light of the World’ Christmas drive-thru display:
"Saddleback Church is doing its best to make sure this year’s Christmas isn’t humdrum and dreary by offering lucky reservation holders and some others a huge light display spanning nearly a mile of the church’s main Lake Forest campus."

The Christmas I learned that prosecco is not a personality:
"I thought my friends bought me fizz because I was fun. In fact, it was because they barely knew me any more."

Christmas Links #15

How to Cut Down Your Own Christmas Tree:
"Here are some tips for participating in a classic holiday tradition."

How to save money on a Christmas feast and also cut food waste:
"From dinner boxes to apps and buying local produce, there are traditional and ethical options."

A chain of 900 strangers bought one another’s meals at a Dairy Queen drive-through:
"It started with an older gentleman who pulled up to the Dairy Queen Grill & Chill drive-through window in Brainerd, Minn., at the height of the lunch hour on a Thursday."

Books worth fondling, if you can lift them: The rise of the Massive Auteur Monograph:
"The fears that electronic publishing would kill off the physical book have abated. Just as home video and theatrical moviegoing managed to coexist, readers seem to have divided their commitment between e-books, to be read on the go or tapped into for certain purposes (cooking, exercise, reference), and books they want to have and to hold."

Left Over Cream Cheese Frosting Chocolate Truffles:
"These chocolate truffles are quick and easy to make with leftover cream cheese frosting."

Cheap Parcel Delivery:
"Tips for sending via Royal Mail, discount web couriers & online retailers."

A Charcuterie Wreath Will Be the Centerpiece of Your Christmas Appetizer Table:
"We love a festive twist on a classic bite."

This Holiday Season, Zoom Into Your Favorite Nick Cartoons:
"Holiday Zoom backgrounds to make video chats extra festive."

Wild Place Project appeals for aftershave for animals:
"A wildlife park is asking for donations of unwanted perfume or aftershave for its animals' Christmas stockings."

Christmas gifts for coffee lovers: Presents to give them all the barista feels:
"From subscription services and cafetieres to reusable cups, take inspiration from our caffeine-fuelled guide."

Christmas Links #14

Did Kevin From ‘Home Alone’ Grow Up to Be Jigsaw? A Deadly Serious Investigation:
"The holiday season is upon us, and you know what that means: rampant consumerism."

The Cyberpunk 2077 Review Drama:
"Cyberpunk 2077 is out in the wild. After eight long years the whole world can now judge it for themselves, through whichever perspective or tint of glasses they so choose. And best of all, for 99.9% of those players, they won’t ever have to justify their feelings to the rest of the audience."

Heritage railway decked out with 13,000 Christmas lights:
"A heritage railway unable to run services for four months has had a spectacular Christmas makeover."

Lynn Shelton remembered by Mark Duplass:
"The actor, writer and director on a film-maker with a generosity of spirit and love for her performers that elevated indie movies and big-budget TV alike."

33 Best Christmas Towns That'll Instantly Transport You to the North Pole:
"Pictures of these stunning Christmas Towns will instantly put you in the holiday spirit."

“Please stop telling me how much exercise it takes to burn off my Christmas food”:
"After the year we’ve had, the calories in your festive food should be the least of our worries. Yet people are still talking about how to exercise away the calories we eat…"

Advent calendar of Christmas treasures 2020:
"In the 21st century, Christmas seems to start as soon as Halloween is over. In the Western Church, Advent – from the Latin word Adventus, which signifies 'a coming' – starts on the Sunday closest to the feast of St Andrew on 30 November and ends with Christmas Eve on 24 December."

A Charlie Brown and Coca-Cola Christmas? The holiday classic you love is actually missing some scenes:
"Even though the 1965 animated TV special “A Charlie Brown Christmas” features the beloved Charlie Brown learning that the true meaning of Christmas isn’t about consumerism, did you know the iconic short was created by a corporation?" [Here's an link for readers in the EU.]

Cannibal Sandwiches: A Polarizing And Misunderstood Wisconsin Tradition:
"A Holiday Dish Going Back Generations, The Raw Beef Delicacy May Be Making A Comeback."

Christmas Treats I’ve Tried in Norway:
"A foreigner living in Ålesund takes us through some of her first tastes of a Norwegian Christmas."

Christmas Links #13

Zodiac ‘340 Cipher’ cracked by code experts 51 years after it was sent to the S.F. Chronicle:
"The solution to what’s known as the 340 Cipher, one of the most vexing mysteries of the Zodiac Killer’s murderous saga, has been found by a code-breaking team from the United States, Australia and Belgium."

Tech gift guide: ideas for last-minute Christmas presents:
"From speakers to watches through to tablets and games, there are lots of options."

Taylor Swift Has Her Second Great Album of 2020 With ‘Evermore’: Album Review:
"Taylor Swift appears to be waging war over the serial resale of her old master recordings on two fronts."

We Buy a Lot of Christmas Trees:
"'Tis the season for Americans to head out in droves and bring home a freshly-cut Christmas tree. But decorative evergreens don't just magically show up on corner lots, waiting to find a home in your living room. There are a bunch of fascinating steps that determine exactly how many Christmas trees get sold, and how expensive they are."

Mariah Carey's All I Want For Christmas Is You finally reaches UK Number 1, sets Official Chart record:
"Mariah's 26-year in the making festive chart-topper sets a new Official UK Chart record."

The First (And Hopefully Last) Quarries:
"In which we award the most scrappy, absurd, ingenious works that shaped our year in quarantine."

The Netflix Christmas Cinematic Universe is being torn apart:
"The Princess Switch: Switched Again ripped a hole in the NCCU. The implications are profound."

Xmas at the Natural History Museum (De La Rue Company):
"A couple of folk have asked for these, so time to put them all in one place. One year, the de la Rue company, which I’ve talked about before, put out a series of cards for the Natural History Museum of London."

Ghosts that haunt Cornwall at Christmas:
"Headless horsemen, white ladies and ghostly lights that spook fishermen are among the sightings."

Revealed: the cheapest supermarket for your Christmas food shop:
"Plus Christmas click-and-collect order deadlines for each supermarket."

[the video up top is via @paulwhitelaw]

Christmas Links #12

Empty Sets: Christmas:
"Give your video calls a festive flourish, with this selection of Christmas sets from the BBC Archive."

Full Metal Jacket to Rocky IV: the least festive Christmas movies ever:
"Bored of the endless ‘is Die Hard is a Christmas movie’ debate? Here are some other films for us to argue about instead."

Queen Elizabeth's favourite film to watch at Christmas is... surprising:
"Where's the festivity, Your Maj?"

20 Albums That Put a New Spin on the Holidays:
"Standards? Sure! But a crop of seasonal records from Dolly Parton, Tinashe and others introduce fresh original songs, too."

Warrington family's Christmas tree put up every year since 1922:
"When this Christmas tree was first put up King George V was on the throne, American Prohibition was in full force and the British Broadcasting Corporation had only just been founded."

I'm Curious To See If You Can Name More Than 15 Christmas Songs:
"The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear."

Taylor Swift’s new album ends on a hopeful note – with echoes of Emily Dickinson:
“I've been down since July,” the pop star announces at the start of the title track for “Evermore,” her surprise new CD that dropped at midnight. “I had a feeling so peculiar that this pain would be forevermore.”

The Most Faithful Adaptation of A Chrismas Carol is Narrated by Gonzo:
"Sorry, Patrick Stewart, George C. Scott and the rest of you dramatic Scrooges — you can’t hold a candle to the Muppets."

Go Absolutely Wild Decorating for the Holidays this Year:
"Banish the gloom of 2020 with as many trees, treats, and twinkles as you can manage."

"All things holly, jolly, and odd-ly."

Christmas Links #11

Christmas decorations: Essex man, 78, carves polystyrene Santa in lockdown:
"A 78-year-old man spent lockdown carving an elaborate festive display from polystyrene for his front garden."

Morrisons launch Christmas dinner box for two containing everything for just £20:
"As it stands, we’re expecting the festive period to be a little different this year but, that doesn’t mean your traditional Christmas dinner has to suffer. Morrisons are launching a new service to to ensure self-isolating customers can get everything they need for Christmas dinner for two people, for under £20."

An Unwelcome Silent Night: Germany Without Christmas Markets:
"Across the country, city and town squares stand empty of the usual huts, sounds, scents and lights, as the coronavirus has forced the country to skip its beloved annual Christmas markets."

The fascinating story of the most infamous necklace in British portraiture:
"B is for Boleyn. The now iconic single-initial lavaliere, immortalised in Anne Boleyn’s portrait as Queen consort to King Henry VIII, has become synonymous with the scandalous royal and her untimely end. Lore connects it to both Queen Elizabeth I and Queen Elizabeth II."

The king of Strava art is back with another amazing Christmas drawing:
"If there’s one thing us cyclists unanimously absolutely love – it has to be Strava art. And riding-your-bike-in-circles-until-your-GPS-markings-create-a-picture is even better at Christmas, when veteran GPS artist Anthony Hoyte comes out to play and impress us all."

Deck Your Tree With the Best Pop Culture Christmas Ornaments:
"All products and services featured by Variety are independently selected by Variety editors. However, Variety may receive a commission on orders placed through its retail links, and the retailer may receive certain auditable data for accounting purposes."

We could all use a little ‘merry and bright’ these days. These holiday light shows make the season sparkle:
"December is the perfect time for lights."

15 Christmas dishes from around the world:
"Your festive meal needn’t be the classic British roast this year. Why not try a spicy stew or smoked meat? Explore Christmas culinary celebrations from Puerto Rico to Poland in our roundup of festive dishes from every corner of the globe."

The Danish Christmas Porridge That Appeased a Vengeful ‘House Elf’:
"In the winter of 1984, Timothy Tangherlini worked on a dairy farm on the Danish island of Funen. One day, while brushing cattle in the barn, he spotted a tiny man in a hat sitting on the back of one of the cows. When Tangherlini tried to speak to the stranger, the little man jumped out the barn window. Assuming it was a trick, he told the couple that owned the farm about the encounter. They both shrugged. “That was the nisse,” they explained."

Italian Pudding Cake:
"by Nigella."

Christmas Links #10

How a small theater in Amsterdam became the most influential American comedy factory you’ve never heard of:
"It’s late 1997. Seth Meyers is not yet Seth Meyers, but you can see the outlines of him in the skinny 23-year-old onstage at a scruffy Amsterdam theater. In a white button-down, dress pants, and a dark tie, with his hair pulled back tightly into a small ponytail, he looks a bit like a high-schooler whose parents made him dress up nice for Dad’s company Christmas party. Two-hundred-odd people are clustered at tables, eating, drinking, chatting, and not quite paying attention as Meyers strides to center stage." [Editor's note: Blimey. I saw Boom Chicago at the Edinburgh Festival in 1998 so it's entirely possible that Meyers was part of the group back then.]

Lost Muppet Christmas Carol song rediscovered:
"A lost song cut from the original The Muppet Christmas Carol movie has been found and reinstated, director Brian Henson has revealed."

NPR's A Jazz Piano Christmas 2020:
"This year's edition of A Jazz Piano Christmas almost didn't happen."

Boyfriend’s Crumbling Mess Of A Life Provides Woman With Rich Array Of Christmas Gift Ideas:
"Marveling at the veritable bonanza of choices offered by his current situation, local woman Alessa Harding revealed Wednesday that the crumbling mess of her boyfriend Tom Etheridge’s life provided her with a rich array of Christmas gift ideas."

Why Icelandic Yule Lad Are You?
"Take our quiz and find out which Icelandic Yule Lad matches your personality!"

Scrooge on a Screen Just Can’t Be the Same:
"The joy of “A Christmas Carol” isn’t merely the story; it’s the ritual of communion and reflection with family and fans. This year that’s not possible."

45 Fun and Festive Christmas Starters That Serve 2 People:
"The best part about Christmas dinner is the snacks beforehand, and if that statement is wrong, we don't want to be right."

TV’s gay Christmas movies are as benign, charming and cliche as we always hoped they’d be:
"In olden times, the people behind the so-called gay agenda wanted nothing more than what everyone else already had: marriage, kids, suburban bliss, job security and equal access to all the benignly merry things in life. Some in the LGBTQ sphere fretted that this wish list, once granted, strips away some of the qualities that set us uniquely apart. What happens to the innovation, the rebelliousness, the tawdry fun that can only come from living on society’s fringe? Does getting all the basic things make us too . . . basic?"

Various Cassette Tapes:
"A collection of digitized commercial and amateur mixtapes recorded on cassette format, dating over the last 30 years."

22 Details From Kids Christmas Movies That You Won't Believe You Missed:
"They gave us Easter eggs in Christmas movies."

Christmas Links #9

The Nightmares Before (And After) Christmas:
"If you’ve heard the edition of Looks Unfamiliar with Anna Cale (and if you haven’t, you can find it here), then you will have heard me talking with a suspicious degree of authority about having to scroll really deeply into Netflix in order to find the sort of gloriously bad Christmas Film that you used to pretty much have to get out of the Video Shop because everyone else had already rented everything even halfway watchable."

BBC Online: 2020 in review:
"2020 has clearly been a very unusual and oftentimes painful year in many ways for just about everyone on the planet. Like many organisations, we’ve had to shift the majority of our staff to working from home in a very short timeframe — this was easier for some teams and people than others."

Happy new normal: Christmas 2020 around the world – in pictures:
"From Santa bubbles to drive-through decorations and Nativity scenes made of pizza, the socially distanced year like no other is giving us a masked Christmas like no other. Guardian picture editors look at Christmas around the world in a year upended by the coronavirus pandemic."

John Lennon: I was there the day he died:
"Forty years ago, on 8 December 1980, the former Beatle John Lennon was shot dead as he returned to his home at the Dakota apartment building in New York. The BBC's Tom Brook was the first British journalist to report live from the scene. Here he recounts how Lennon's death has haunted him ever since."

Michael Morpurgo's Tales from Shakespeare:
"Celebrated author Michael Morpurgo's fresh retellings of Shakespeare's timeless stories for schools and families."

Christmas Trees — an Elusive Bit of Happiness for Canadians:
"There’s been a run on Christmas trees as Canadians, trapped inside because of the pandemic, try, in record numbers, to shoehorn joy into their lives."

Symbol of 2020 angst or sophisticated style choice? What to make of black Christmas trees:
"There is a decorating trend that has slowly been creeping, Grinch-like, into the holiday season. People across the country have been ditching their very green evergreens for artificial black trees. It makes sense for right now: With a still-raging pandemic, millions out of work and food pantries inundated, a black tree seems like the perfect symbol for our plagued 2020. But for black-tree lovers, it’s not a symbol at all. It’s a stylistic choice, one that devotees say is classic, glamorous and extremely versatile."

“Broadcast on all known frequencies, and in all known languages…”
"I really need to get back to watching Orange is the New Black, you know. I got bogged down at the end of Season 4. Is she gonna shoot him? Is she? IS SHE? So in order to get back on track, recently I… erm, watched an old IBA Engineering Announcement from 1990 instead."

'Emotional But Rational': Ikea Discontinues Its Long-Running Catalog:
"Swedish furniture giant Ikea is ending production of its famous catalog, saying the thick compendium of affordable sofas, knickknacks and housewares will leave "a phenomenal 70-year legacy.""

Christmas Links #8

BBC Music Sound of 2021 longlist revealed:
"The longlist for BBC Music Sound of 2021 has been unveiled, tipping ten new artists for success next year."

Lower Burrell family keeps Italian nativity scene tradition alive, new pieces added yearly:
"An Italian Christmas tradition encompassing a couple generations continues in a Lower Burrell household."

Australia Gears Up for the Great Koala Count, Using Drones, Droppings and Dogs:
"The marsupials are not easy to find, or count accurately, so officials will deploy new methods."

These Two Words Will Strike Fear Into Gadget Makers This Christmas:
"Sold out."

Christmas dinner made easy as Scotland’s national chef reveals his top five tips for festive food without the fuss:
"If you've never cooked Christmas dinner before or it's something you dread each year, fear not because Gary Maclean is on hand to help keep things simple."

Christmas Food Safety Checklist:
"Use our food safety checklist to reduce the risk of food poisoning at Christmas."

History Of Milwaukee's Schuster's Parade Includes Live Reindeer And Streetcars:
"Parades are an essential part of the holiday season. Whether it’s the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade or a local parade full of friends and neighbors, parades allow communities to celebrate through music, costumes and over the top floats."

Anna Kendrick on Her Disney+ Movie 'Noelle' and What She Learned from Shirley MacLaine:
"I want to be working when I'm 83 and looking at her is really inspiring, because it seems like she hasn't taken shit from anybody at any point in her life."

Mistletoe has a long and somewhat sordid history:
"The pagan custom of decorating with winter greenery was readily absorbed into early Christian culture despite a resistance from some church leaders who opposed anything heathen."

The Night of the Doctor (new volume from Obverses The Black Archive by James Cooray Smith):
"Released as a webcast in the prelude to Doctor Who’s 50th anniversary, The Night of the Doctor (2013) revisited Paul McGann’s eighth Doctor 17 years after his sole TV appearance. In just seven minutes, showrunner Steven Moffat’s characteristically revisionist return to the series’ past blends Doctor Who lore from diverse eras and media with images of rebirth and resurrection, and questions of identity."

Christmas Links #7

'Crappy half-dead' poinsettia from grocery store just won't stop growing:
"The holiday plant has so far survived three Christmas seasons and is now huge."

‘This is Music Hall’, 1955:
"I am increasingly fascinated by British television in the early to mid-1950s. This was a moment when the medium was becoming increasingly confident and an ever more significant presence in both public life and in the private lives of viewers. But it was also when the BBC’s television monopoly, which – with a break for the war – had been protected since late 1936 was challenged by discussions about and then the establishment of a new commercial service, ITV, which went on the air in London in September 1955."

The quirky Christmas tree forest in Liverpool's Georgian quarter:
"'We wanted to give people some joy after a difficult year'"

Italy lights up the world's largest Christmas tree:
"Each year people 'adopt' a light from the world-famous Christmas tree display in central Italy."

Anya Taylor-Joy: 'I likened Beth's passion for chess to my passion for acting. It's a calling':
"It’s been an amazing year for the 24-year-old star of The Queen’s Gambit. She reflects on Netflix’s unlikely chess drama hit and her next film, an Edgar Wright psychological thriller."

Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaughn Reportedly Hated Each Other So Much They Refused to Film a Sex Scene for This Christmas Comedy:
"In the 2008 comedy Four Christmases, Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaughn play a self-involved couple who typically spend the holidays on an exotic vacation rather than with their dysfunctional families."

Star Trek and Hell on Wheels actor Colm Meaney stars as Santa in new Christmas ad for Aldi Ireland:
"If you live in the U.K. or Ireland, there’s a good chance you have heard of Kevin the Carrot. For the rest of the world, here’s a little primer: Kevin the Carrot is a popular holiday mascot used in Christmas advertising for Aldi grocery stores."

Retro gaming at Christmas … the essential collection:
"After browsing through the latest Christmas TV Times I am seeing less originality than another Flappy Birds game, it’s like being in 1987 again."

Paris's Champs-Élysées switches on its Christmas lights:
"Paris's iconic Champs-Élysées avenue switched on its Christmas lights on Sunday, welcoming the festive period in the French capital."

Microsoft releases Windows 95 ugly Christmas sweater:
"Microsoft has released a line of ugly Christmas sweaters with retro Windows themes."

Christmas Links #6

Inside the New York Public Library’s Last, Secret Apartments:
"There are just 13 left."

Estate defies Covid to organise its own Christmas lights switch-on:
"Families wanted to boost community spirit."

Submarine Santa brings festive cheer to Tokyo aquarium:
"Dressed in a Santa Claus costume, a mask and flippers, a diver waved through a curtain of tropical fish in a Tokyo aquarium at socially distanced spectators watching from behind glass."

‘A present you make is so much better than one you buy’: 10 brilliant homemade Christmas gift ideas:
"Want to give a little love with a handmade present, but don’t know where to start? Try these ideas from artists and designers."

Saying Goodbye to Hanukkah:
"I lit the menorah as a child, but my kids are growing up in a different type of household."

Can You Name All 12 Days Of Christmas?
"So. Many. Birds."

Shakespeare and Christmas:
"In all of his works, Shakespeare uses the word ‘Christmas’ only three times. Why is there so little of Christmas in the works of Shakespeare?"

2020 broke Christmas music. Here’s what I’m listening to instead:
"The holidays, it appears, are here. And with them, the annual sleigh-dump of Christmas music, which this year arrives like an unsolicited fruitcake: unexpectedly heavy, disproportionately sweet and near impossible to digest."

IndieWire’s Guide to ‘Mank’: 25 People and Places in David Fincher’s Historical Epic Explained:
"David Fincher's movie is filled with complex reference points — some real, others imagined. Confused about what to believe? Come here for answers."

Red squirrels going nuts for Ottawa couple's Christmas lights, but reason remains a mystery:
"'We're trying to figure out what they're doing with the bulbs' says frustrated homeowner."

Christmas Links #5

The York Mystery Plays Radio Broadcast:
"The York Mystery Plays, which are a selection of biblical stories drawn together into a piece of theatre, date back to the 1300s. They have now been adapted for radio, for our delight, and include four plays in four installments – Adam and Eve, The Flood part 1, The Flood part 2 and Moses and Pharaoh."

The first 'Christmas Star' in nearly 800 years will soon be visible:
"Mark your calendars for December 21st (the Winter Solstice) because that is when Jupiter and Saturn will align very closely in the sky, so close that to the naked eye they will almost appear to be, “colliding.”"

Hope Street sparkles with new light installations for Christmas:
"Hope Street has welcomed a new, specially commissioned artwork for Christmas."

Advent calendars: Count down your days to Christmas in style:
"Advent calendars work on a simple premise: every day in December until Christmas eve, build your anticipation for the big day come the 25th."

BFI's Christmas Crackers:
"It's time to join the ghosts of Christmases past as we celebrate a century of festive film."

All Santa Wants for Christmas Is to Stay Out of Politics:
"After a brush with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, professional Santa Clauses are just trying to get through this holiday season safely."

Cheers! Or not: ‘Scandalous’ 1st Christmas card up for sale:
"The first commercially printed Christmas card is up for sale — a merry Victorian-era scene that scandalized some who denounced it as humbug when it first appeared in 1843."

Help us prevent Covid creating a lost generation of young people:
"Life chances are in danger of being blighted by the pandemic. That’s why young people are at the heart of our charity appeal this year."

Clocaenog Forest Christmas tree thief pays compensation:
"A man who stole a Christmas tree from a forest has agreed to pay compensation to a red squirrel conservation trust."

Best Spots in D.C. for Holiday Postcard Photos:
"Where should you go for the finest Christmas snapsot in the D.C. area? Easy! The best outdoor venue for magical holiday shopping is at The Old Lucketts Store, where your camera will find the perfect staging with fun holiday murals, antique props, a wine garden, and more surprises at every turn."

Christmas Links #4

British Christmas tree grower of the year – in pictures:
"A family business in York has been crowned the winner of the Champion Christmas Tree Grower of the Year competition, giving it the honour of supplying No 10 Downing Street’s tree."

Belgians can invite guests for Christmas dinner, but only one can use the bathroom:
"In Belgium, having a few people over for Christmas dinner is not necessarily out of the question this year. But only one lucky guest will be allowed to use the bathroom, if the government has any say in the matter."

Christmas Party Cancelled? Here’s What To Do Instead:
"We regret to inform you that this year’s Christmas party has been cancelled."

Getting Creative for the 2020 Office Holiday Party:
"Because yet another Google hangout is not going to cut it."

Police are warning about a Royal Mail scam that could steal your bank details this Christmas:
"With the countdown to Christmas officially on, many of us are relying on delivery services like the Royal Mail to have our packages and presents brought straight to our homes, or sent to loved ones."

Odeon Liverpool is bringing panto to the big screen:
"In association with Curtis Productions, the show will feature a blend of live-action performances from the cast with scenic and interactive projections beamed onto ODEON’s cutting-edge screens to enhance the production and immerse audiences into the fairy tale."

Birmingham New Street’s Christmas Eve meal returns as take-away for 2020:
"For the third year running Network Rail is teaming up with award-winning charity Midland Langar Seva Society (MLSS) to provide hot food and festive cheer for those who are struggling in the city centre this Christmas."

Dorset farm's Winter Wonderland charity fundraiser:
"Nutley Farm's lights and reindeer experience to raise money for charity."

Driving home for Christmas: Students begin exodus in university travel window:
"As the six-day window finally opens, Sophie Gallagher speaks to students making their escape and those who have chosen to stay."

A brand new, star-studded version of Cinderella is coming to BBC Two this Christmas:
"This Christmas the curtain will be raised on a very special, virtual version of Cinderella, as a host of famous faces from across the land will be gathering together for a fabulously festive treat as Cinderella: A Comic Relief Pantomime For Christmas comes to BBC Two."

Christmas Links #3

Lovely ideas for festive place settings:
"Perfect place settings for a seriously lovely Christmas celebration. Make sure everything on the table looks as good as it tastes."

How VOCES8 are keeping the choral flame burning brightly:
"Behind-the-scenes at Westminster Abbey for the Christmas edition of Live from London."

Grimsby tip waste transformed into Christmas wonderland:
"Rubbish discarded at a recycling centre has become a visitor attraction after being transformed by workers into a Christmas winter wonderland."

With Ni'Var, Discovery Pays Homage to an Original Star Trek Fanzine:
"Vulcan's new name bridged Trek's fandom past with a new future."

A Christmas cracker! The three siblings putting on a festive bonanza for charity:
"Three siblings have created a festive lights bonanza on their street in Dawley in Telford."

Have You Sent Your Holiday Cards Yet?
"In a year marked by distance, loss and virtual stand-ins, physical greeting cards are selling quite well."

12 Movies to Watch After Your Favorite Christmas Classics:
"Alternative picks for the rest of the year."

7 Foods You Can Serve Your Neighbours This Christmas:
"Garri is cost, but thankfully still affordable. Or you can try elubo. Make eba, amala, and wrap it inside cloth for them. They will take it home and prepare stew on their own. It’s the thought that counts."

The Queen Will Spend “a Quiet Christmas in Windsor,” Sacrificing Her Usual Holiday Traditions:
"There will be no large gatherings of royals, or an opportunity for fans to watch the family on their way to Christmas Day church services."

Christmas Links #2

The Mandalorian: Rosario Dawson Tells All About Ahsoka Tano:
"The actress and writer-director Dave Filoni discuss bringing the animated hero to live-action, Baby Yoda’s name, and real-life controversies and influences."

National Theatre at Home:
"Unmissable theatre, whenever you want it."

Bake me happy: 10 deliciously different mince pie recipes:
"From the perfect traditional version, to brownie hybrids, deep-fried delights and a throwback from 1591, homemade never looked so good."

In Praise of Becoming a Deranged Holiday Person:
"It’s November 30—not even the official month of all things holly and jolly—and yet I’ve already purchased every Christmas present on my list. Two friends and I are driving to New Jersey in a few weeks to see Elf in an empty movie theater (yes, you can rent a whole theater out for not much more than it costs to buy a ticket and popcorn in New York City), and I fully intend to haul a tree into my fourth-floor walk-up apartment ASAP. This isn’t my normal mode of engagement with the holidays, but then again, why should any part of this bizarre year be normal?"

Liverpool's Christmas tree lights up as city prepares to welcome shoppers back:
"The Church Street tree will welcome people as the city's 'non-essential' shops reopen on December 2."

Chris Chibnall confirms extended 70 minute Doctor Who festive special:
"The showrunner added that the episode was "an epic, emotional rollercoaster"."

Mariah Carey's All I Want For Christmas Could Be About To Get Its First Ever UK Number One:
"The festive classic was released in 1994 and is more popular than ever."

Burlington's Christmas tree lights up hearts and minds:
"On Saturday, Burlington Riverfront Entertainment lit up the ceremonial conifer in front of Memorial Auditorium with their second annual tree-lighting event."

We tried Morrisons Christmas dinner pizza and this is what we honestly thought:
"Do turkey, cranberry sauce and pigs in blankets really belong on a pizza? We found out!"

Christmas: Drive-thru market saves festive German tradition:
"Most traditional Christmas markets in Germany have been cancelled this year. But one has found an innovative way to get around tough new lockdown restrictions."

Christmas Play (1959):
"Taking the lid off the creative process - of a group of theatrically-minded 11-year-olds as they stage the nativity."