I’m not the world’s biggest fan of major department stores. But I think we lost something important when so many American cities’ iconic local department stores were subsumed into Macy’s. I think Macy’s (the original, Thanksgiving Day Parade, Miracle on 34th Street Macy’s in New York City) lost something too. It’s not special any more. But wait, isn’t this supposed to be storytime? Where’s this rant coming from? Well, back when the new Governor of Minnesota’s name was on the big store on Nicollet Mall, one of our yearly family rituals was to take in the Dayton’s 8th Floor Auditorium Holiday Show. We often did it on Christmas Eve morning, with some sort of treat afterwards – when SonShineIn was small, it was lunch at Kramarczuk’s in Northeast Minneapolis, later when more children and church responsibilities meant a more hectic day, simply hot chocolate and a special cookie sufficed. There is still a show at what is now Macy’s, but Sisterfilms tells me that it just isn’t the same. Twenty to thirty years ago, each year’s show was different, often based on a classic children’s book. Sometimes it tied in with the Christmas show being put on at the Children’s Theatre Company; some of the same designers worked on both.
One year the show was How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and that was the year I bought the book – the same edition shown in the picture, although our copy is pretty worn now. I can’t remember if I had read the book in childhood – I was beyond the picture book stage in 1957 when it was published – and I’m not sure I saw the first broadcast of the TV special as it took place December 18, 1966, and I may not have been home from college yet. (Television was a rare thing at my alma mater. I believe they brought some in to the dorm lounges on Election Night, and I only remember one person on my freshman floor who had a television in her room.) I’ve never seen the Jim Carrey movie, even though I picked up a copy at a yard sale, because that man’s face gives me the willies.
As he often did, Dr. Seuss has a message deftly hidden amidst all the fun and wordplay in this book. It’s one we can all use since the Recession Grinch has scaled down our material expectations of Christmas. (Every dark cloud has a silver lining!)The well-known song from the TV special, “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch,” has become a favorite of rock, pop, and jazz artists for inclusion on their Christmas albums. So I chose something a bit different – an instrumental played by All the King’s Tubas.
Now, if you are already completely Grinched-out and feeling Grinchy about the Grinch, perhaps you’d like to join Jim and Della once again in O. Henry’s Gifts of the Magi. You can go here to read more of the history of the story. This story has been dramatized and adapted numerous times, but to my knowledge no one put it to music till the Squirrel Nut Zippers.
Individual Files for Mac UsersIntro Dec 8 2007 Surprise Gifts of the Magi
Self-Extracting Zip Files for the Rest of Us8 December 2010 8 December 2007