Why The Littlest Angel is the worst holiday story… ever

The First Cover for the "classic"When The Littlest Angel by Charles Tazewell was published in 1946 it was a holiday phenomenon. This “classic” story has since been published numerous times (with many different illustrated versions); made into movies (cartoon, musical, and live action); and in the list of best-selling children stories of all time (!) it comes up in the top 20. 

Heck, even holiday crooner Bing Crosby sang a song based on the plot of it! 

I remember the first time I heard this story. It was at catechism. and the teacher read it to us as if she was bestowing a great holiday gift on us children. I can still see her smile. While the other kids casually sat near me with crossed legs, I remember really being bothered by the story. I couldn’t put my finger on it then, but that reaction to the tale has never gone away for me. And that day, I raised my hand for I had some questions.

My hand is still up in the air.

The fact is, after thinking about it far too much, and being haunted by it like Marley’s ghost each year, I can’t escape my problems with this narrative. I have come to the opinion that this Christmas traditional yarn is… just awful. Horrendous. Possibly the worst holiday story. Oh, God, it is just bad.

Okay, it takes a lot for a story to be a worst holiday yarn than the appalling song “The Christmas Shoes” (which for those lucky not to know is the materialistic and disturbing ditty about an ignorant child who leaves his dying mother’s bedside to go shopping, assuming that the shoes he puts on her feet will go with her soul to heaven and there impress Jesus), but The Littlest Angel does it. It does it ten times over.

Grab a cup of hot chocolate and a Christmas cookie, snuggle in by the fireplace, and let me tell you why… Continue reading

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Time on the Yellow Brick Road: 13 of My Thoughts on The Wizard Of Oz

1939-wizard-of-oz-blu-ray-yellow-brick-road1.  My parents claim that the first movie  I saw in the movie theater was The Wizard of Oz. I have to trust them on this, because I have no memory of it. A complete blank. My first movie-going memory (and possible first memory) relates to Star Wars. That memory stuck, and I can still bring it up in my head to this day. So if I really did see The Wizard of Oz with its magical munchkins, flexible Scarecrow and stiff Tin Man… well, I would have remembered that, right? How could my childish reaction be, “Whatever…”

2.  When I was growing up The Wizard of Oz meant something. This was back in the day when people didn’t own their own video recordings of it and it would be shown on TV only once a year (usually on CBS). And at that moment you knew you were watching it with everyone else. I could go to school the next day and talk about it with my friends (and we did). With the purchase of our first VCR I made sure to record it; however, I must admit re-watching it that way, fast-forwarding through the commercial breaks, lost some of the magic for me. For I knew in my heart I was watching it alone then.

3.  I also had, growing up, a record that was the soundtrack for the film. It was not merely the music, but most of the audio track of the film. No narrator voice, just the actors and the song cues. I remember sitting in my room, in front of my little record player, with eyes closed imagining the film in my mind. Everything alway seemed a little bigger, cleaner and grander in that imaginary version.  Continue reading

Pete the Cat is the Only Cat I Like

My Favorite in the seriesI have always been allergic to cats, which means my relationship to them has been one of avoidance for as long as I can remember. Unfortunately, most cats do not know our little “arrangement,” and seem to seek me out, enjoying the little sufferings that they cause me as I sniffle and cough at their mere presence.

Each time this occurs, the cat owner will laugh and tell me how cats always seek out the one with allergies, the one showing them the least interest. They always seem amused by this idea; me, I have always have seen it as something more sinister. Yes, I might giggle out loud but inside I am preparing for the possibility of feline confrontation.

Okay, let me clarify, I don’t think cats want my downfall, nothing like that; I simply think cats know they have some power over me and relish in it.

Finally, able to put a human in its place—that has to be the thought—as they rub against my legs, crawl up on my lap, or rub against my arm. Leaving their fur everywhere they can, knowing that I will have to wash everything when I get home.

Little bits and pieces of torture with fur. Continue reading

10 Favorite Books To Read To My Kids

After writing about Maurice Sendak and his work yesterday (You can read that editorial here), it inspired me to really think about what books I enjoy reading to my kids.

Oh, like my kids, I do have favorites… I also have the “opposite of favorite” books…

Am I the only parent who hides books they can’t stand to read again? Is that just me?

Anyway, here is my list of my 10 favorite books to read with my children: Continue reading

One of My Favorite Finds of Last Year: BabyLit Books by Jennifer Adams

I have a new review up on GreenSpotBlue.com. It is a children’s book review of BabyLit Books by Jennifer Adams. If you are a reader (or know some readers) with young kids (or expecting some) I recommend you check out my review.  Here is the beginning:

This doesn’t happen often to me…

When I found these books I immediately had to have them for my daughter for Christmas. Yes, my daughter was only 8-months old at the time so I was being a little too ridiculous in my excitement as I frantically visited book Web site after book Web site trying to find a local store that had copies on their shelves. The idea of these books inspired me to that great an extent that when I finally found copies and had them held it at the front desk, I breathed a sigh of relief. Continue reading