December 21, 2003

Christmas-The Hollywood Musical

Filed under: Art and About Holidays — admin @ 3:48 pm

In a couple of days, the holidays will be officially over for all but the stalwart few who will be celebrating Twelfth Night on January 6. With the end comes relief and letdown. For me, the letdown stems from the fact that one of my favorite shows, Christmas: The Hollywood Musical, is over.

During the holidays, Shakespeare’s observation that “all the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players” rings truer than ever. Every year, the onset of the holidays seems to awaken the creativity in people. Many of us become writer/director/producer and star of our own holiday tales fraught with symbolism, emotion, exultation and pathos. Whether we want to succumb to it or not, the events in December lend themselves to more dramatic interpretation than any other month.

Suddenly, a soundtrack of Christmas carols accompanies our lives at almost every turn. Singers stand on street corners, or at our front door, and we think nothing of it.
We become set designers in our own homes. People who ordinarily live with pristine white walls unabashedly awash their lives in Technicolor blue, red, green and gold for the month of December. A person who ordinarily would only purchase a piece of artwork because it matched her couch suddenly thinks nothing of adorning her piano with Grandma’s slightly tacky Christmas craft from years past.

We’re reminded that the man who lives next door and swears loudly at the 49ers every Sunday is actually a closet lighting director who meticulously places each bulb on his house and yard to create a precise effect.

Art direction is very important. We critique and discuss the artistic statements made through holiday decorating on civic buildings, retailers or private businesses. One is too modern, but next door they are too traditional.

We critique and discuss out own artistic endeavors. We want to pick and wrap gifts for loved ones that make a personal statement. Presentation becomes an artform.
Costuming gets a lot of attention. Go to any party and a surprising number of people are dressing a little more formally than usual. Women drape their bodies in rich, luxurious fabrics. Red attire is definitely preferred. Sparkly jewelry festively catches the light. Men divide themselves into two schools of design — those who choose the classy Christmas tie and those who opt for candy canes or snowmen on their neckware.

There’s lots of dancing. Folks who have never seen another ballet have seen “The Nutcracker” countless times. Dance floors on New Years’ Eve are packed by people who get out their dancing shoes only one night a year. And of course, as midnight approaches, the cast of Christmas: The Hollywood Musical breaks into their big, final production number, “Auld Lang Syne.”

Of course, everything has to be caught on film and video. Cameras that collect dust 11 months of the year are suddenly constant companions as we document the wonders of the season. Often, our kids go before a professional camera crew to get that one shot that marks the end of the year in the family album. This shot is also often used on the publicity materials we call Christmas cards, where we spin the year’s events in the best light for loved ones near and far.

Someone in the family has to be the location manager. That’s the person who volunteers their house for the big holiday feast and extended-family gift exchange.
And finally, there’s the caterers and their trusty files of tried-and-true holiday fare without which the celebrations would not be complete.

I’m invigorated by the creativity the holidays inspire. My New Year’s wish for us all is that we keep the creative spirit of Christmas throughout the entire year.