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Happy birthday, Jesus.
I remember growing up in Edmonton, Christmas was the busiest time of year. My father was a florist and my mom and I picked him up at 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve and brought him home, exhausted, to sleep – just as soon as he dealt with the complaints from customers who hadn’t got their flowers yet. He’d be in bed by 9 and slept for 12 hours straight, which let Santa deliver gifts late the next morning. But no matter how tired he was, we never forgot to put out milk and cookies for Santa on Christmas Eve, a tradition that still has me headed to the fridge tonight.
1. Top holiday toys from the year you were born. He’s making a list and checking it twice. For me, born in 1949, it’s the board game, Clue. If you were born in 1920, it’s a Raggedy Ann Doll, and in 2021 the reversible octopus plushie.
And in case you’re still shopping today, here’s a great list to guide you.
2. The best Christmas gift of all is a…tradition. It can be dinner, a toboggan ride, or milk and cookies at midnight. It doesn’t matter what it is; what counts is that it is. Here’s why you’ll want to pack your holidays with them.
3. And this little pig went to…war. You’ve just got to know when to fold ‘em.
4. New ways to make big bucks. Salt Lake City is so awash with Christmas lights that ski bums can make a fortune putting them up.
5. Lost on the moon and in the channel. Two of the most momentous events of the 20th century were so risky that their authors wrote letters to be read to the world in case they failed. Allied Supreme Commander Dwight Eisenhower wrote this statement before D-Day in case the landings in Normandy failed; and Richard Nixon’s speechwriter Bill Safire wrote this speech (performed by Benedict Cumberbatch) in case the Apollo 11 astronauts were stranded on the moon.
6. The New York Christmas Tree Cartel. With Torontonians paying $125-$150 for a Christmas Tree this year, it’s a good time to recall that price-fixing exists in every industry. So let’s also never forget the Quebec Maple Syrup heist of 2016 when the price of maple syrup rose to $1,600 a barrel.
7. MacKenzie Scott’s website details $14 billion in gifts. Jeff Bezos’ ex got $38 billion when she walked out the door in 2019 and immediately started giving it to good causes. This month, she revealed who those donations went to and what the criteria are for future gifts. Of the 1,604 gifts, just 10 went to groups with operations in Canada, and none to a Canadian-based organization.
8. Dear Santa, it’s a wonderful life. Here’s how two of the most enduring Christmas myths were born – and still survive. First of course, Santa Claus, including the fact that he may be a psychedelic mushroom. Then a revisionist view of Frank Capra’s 1947 classic Christmas movie, It’s A Wonderful Life.
9. 52 things I learned in 2022. Tom Whitwell is the former head of digital at The Times of London. Last year, he started a list of what he learned each week. That list caught fire. Here’s this year’s list of charming oddities and observations, from “Japanese atom bomb survivors lived five years longer and were less likely to get cancer than average Japanese citizens”, to “In 1739, there were three times more coffee shops per person in London than there are today.”
10. Boogie-Woogie Beethoven’s 9th. An ensemble of 167 Matryomin players in Tokyo deliver variations on Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy”. A Matryomin is “a single-antenna theremin inserted into a Matryoshika doll.”