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Top Ten Holiday Rituals

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood December 17, 2008 at 9:42AM

Forget chestnuts roasting on an open fire. Here are my fave holiday rituals:

Christmas_storyForget chestnuts roasting on an open fire. Here are my fave holiday rituals:

1. My first Christmas card, every year, is something tastelessly provocative from John Waters. Postmark: Baltimore, Maryland.

2. The second is a donation-in-your name card from Jerry Bruckheimer. Will his annual classic Christmas wreath follow? Suspenseful.

3. Christmas music. Diana Krall, Mel Torme and Louis Armstrong's Christmas jazz. Handel's The Messiah (see video on jump). Vivaldi's Four Seasons. Johnny Cash. And Sean, a fellow-DJ from WHCL-FM, the Hamilton College radio station, always sends a Christmas CD. They started out as audiotapes. After 30 years, they're really arcane.


4. Jim sends a Mrs. Grace's Lemon Cake. Yummyboo.

5. Tangerines in the toes of Christmas stockings. A family tradition, along with trimming the tree on Christmas Eve under the influence of hot buttered rum. We've moved it up to December 23.

6. A Christmas Story. We also watch, on occasion, It's a Wonderful Life, Meet Me in St. Louis, Holiday Inn (where White Christmas comes from) or Love Actually. But A Christmas Story we ALWAYS watch. Sadly, I can't get anyone to watch the Alistair Sim A Christmas Carol anymore, which my brother and I grew up on.

7. Aljean's Christmas brunch. She actually serves eggs bacon orange juice bagels lox cream cheese and coffee to three rooms of people sitting and talking on Christmas morning. But you better be on time.


8. Christmas movie. It's what we can all agree on. Maybe The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. The last two years we couldn't get into the movie we wanted at the AMC and happily watched DVDs on Joan's giant flat screen instead--which tells you something.

9. Alessandra's Italian celebration, with home-baked pies and cakes. Italian Bingo. Wine. Tombola!

10. New Year's: Eve is chez Jane, who cooks a girls-only sumptuous dinner accompanied by plenty of high-end champagne; Day is at Julia's, who supplies a pianist, sheet music and lyrics so we can all sing, whether or not we know the tune.

[Originally appeared on]

This article is related to: Genres, Classics

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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.