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I Heart XMAS with Linda Olsen

Welcome to the I Heart XMAS Q&A, where Retro Festive asks notable Canadians about their own Christmas traditions and what they would like to find under the tree!

Linda Olsen
@Linda_Olsen
Anchor of the Early News at 5 and co-anchor of  Calgary’s News Hour at 6

Linda Olsen

What is your favourite Christmas movie or TV special? 

Elf!  I think it’s so cute and has a great message about the Christmas spirit.

 

 

Does your family have a special or quirky Christmas tradition?
We have a few traditions coming from our Danish heritage.

We would hold hands and sing Christmas songs and walk around the tree.  Also, we would put a whole almond in the desserts, citronfromage and risalamande.  The person who gets the whole almond in their serving has to keep it secret, hidden in their mouths, until everyone eats up all the dessert.  Then we found out who had it all along and that person wins a prize.

Which do you prefer: to give or receive?  

I definitely prefer to give!  I enjoy finding a few special gifts that my friends and family will really appreciate.

Which Peanuts character do you think your friends and family would say reminds them of you?
My daughter said Charlie Brown’s teacher who says ‘wuh wuh wuh.’

Ugly Christmas Sweaters: Not a Chance – or – The Uglier the Better?
I have not purchased one for myself yet, but my three kids have and they wear them with pride and yes, the uglier the better!

What do you want Santa to bring you this year?
I would like Santa to find a way to make the days longer so I can have more time with my kids and parents.

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New Christmas Specials – Classics in the Making

December is a wonderful time of year because that’s when we can all gather around the TV to watch classic Christmas specials and movies like Rudolph, Frosty the Snowman, Home Alone, or The Year Without a Santa Claus.

Movie and TV studios hope for a Christmas miracle when they produce new specials around the holidays. Sometimes they are smashing successes like Elf, and sometimes they are a little forgettable like Frosty Returns.

New Christmas Specials

 

We have been trying to keep up the new Christmas specials that have been released this year. Before you watch them, here are our reviews!

Warning: Spoiler Alerts, probably
Reviews by Damien Nelson and Danielle LaSage

A Very Murray Christmas

Netflix has been creating amazing original work for years, so it was inevitable that they would make a new Christmas special too. But who knew they would recruit the likes of Bill Murray?

This Christmas special follows Bill Murray as he is about to begin a holiday show at The Carlyle, on live television, during the biggest snowstorm of the season. When the weather keeps Bill’s celebrity friends away, Bill is forced to cancel his show and create a party with the other guests trapped in the hotel.

This is where the storyline ends. Although A Very Murray Christmas begins like a movie, it is essentially a classic celebrity variety show. It features comedy sketches, dozens of surprise cameos, and lots of lovely songs.

It is a hilarious Christmas special, and I think it will age well in the coming years because Bill Murray’s humour is timeless and much loved. The cameos alone are worth the watch! Honestly, do not stop watching until you see Clooney.

I give it 10 Celebrity Cameos out of 12.
The bottom line:
Miley Cyrus cannot lip sync. This is actually a good thing!

 

The Peanuts Movie

I have to admit I was nervous about The Peanuts Movie. After all these years, why mess with a good thing? But I was pleasantly surprised.

The Peanuts Movie is not technically a Christmas special. The film actually follows the Peanuts gang over the course of a school year, so it features many holidays including Christmas.

The script is simple and sweet, and revisits many classic characters without being tedious. The animation is pleasing to the eye, and the voice work is lovely. The only bone I have to pick with this film is that it relied on old one-liners and storylines from other Peanuts specials, instead of creating new adventures for the Gang.

I give it 6 Red Barons out of 10.
The bottom line: It is a joyful little film that die-hard Peanuts fans will enjoy no matter what.

 

Krampus

For those in search of a new type of Christmas story…look no further! It seems that the once obscure holiday knowledge of Krampus is becoming more and more commonplace.

When his dysfunctional family clashes over the holidays, young Max is disillusioned and turns his back on Christmas. Little does he know, this lack of festive spirit has unleashed the wrath of Krampus: a demonic force of ancient evil intent on punishing non-believers. All hell breaks loose as beloved holiday icons take on a monstrous life of their own, laying siege to the fractured family’s home and forcing them to fight for each other if they hope to survive.

Well, if that doesn’t get you in the holiday spirit, I don’t know what will.

Krampus was co-written and directed by Michael Dougherty, which fits perfectly, as he is probably best known for the film Trick R Treat. Dougherty accomplishes a film that is effectively frightening, and comically amusing when it needs to be. And with a cast featuring Adam Scott, Toni Collette, Allison Tolman and David Koechner, you’re bound for nothing short of entertaining. The whole cast dances the line of comedy and drama so gracefully; it makes for a very enjoyable flick.

I would not recommend this movie for children … unless you really want to keep them in line; in which case, make it a family holiday tradition!

I give it 5 Candy Canes out of 8.
The bottom line: This is a seriously fun flick. If you enjoy horror and enjoy the holiday season – this is not one to miss!

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I Heart XMAS with Clara Venice

Welcome to the I Heart XMAS Q&A, where Retro Festive asks notable Canadians about their own Christmas traditions and what they would like to find under the tree!

Clara Venice
Musician
Theremin Space Pop Music for Lovers and Dreamers
@claravenice

Clara Venice
Photo by Katherine Holland

 

What is your favourite holiday movie or TV special? 

That’s so hard – I’d say it’s a toss-up between Home Alone, Elf and Gremlins – with Gremlins coming out on top because Gizmo is just too adorable.

Does your family have a special or quirky holiday tradition?
Yes – my family actually invented our own holiday that we celebrate on December 23rd called “Wondermas”. Each year we create a Wondermas “Tree” usually involving fairy lights, LEDs, tulle, Unicorns, and plexiglass. Then on Wondermas Eve, we are visited by Rollerbear who brings us gifts! We think it’s the most wonder-full holiday of the year.

 Which do you prefer: to give or receive?  

I wish I could say that I genuinely preferred giving to receiving, but let’s be real: they’re both pretty awesome. I do love giving gifts, and I put a lot of thought into what I give people. In the past I would get so stressed out around the holidays to find the “perfect gift” for everyone on my list, so now when I see something that I know a friend would love I just buy it and save it for the holidays. It makes things so much easier, and I feel a lot better about the thoughtfulness of my gifts. I highly recommend this strategy to everyone!

 Which Peanuts character do you think your friends and family would say reminds them of you? (Charlie Brown, Linus, Lucy, Snoopy etc)?
I have to say Schroeder – like him, I’m always lost in lost in my music, and Beethoven is also my favourite composer. Also, I think his artistic philosophy is pretty great (via Wikipedia):

In 1971’s Play It Again, Charlie Brown, Lucy asked if pianists make a lot of money, and Schroeder flew into a rage: “Who cares about money?! This is art, you blockhead! This is great music I’m playing, and playing great music is an art! Do you hear me? An art! Art! Art! Art! Art! Art!” However, when Lucy asks the same question in the movie A Boy Named Charlie Brown, Schroeder admits: “Some do, if they practice real hard, I guess.” 

Personally, I think these are both great answers and I definitely relate.

 What is your favourite Christmas song?
Christmas Don’t Be Late (aka the Chipmunk’s Christmas Song) because it sounds the best on the theremin!

Ugly Christmas Sweaters: Not a Chance – or – The Uglier the Better?
I believe that people should be able to wear whatever they feel like wearing any time of the year, so I fully support anyone’s choice of sweater. Personally, I like cute sparkly sweaters so that is what I wear during the holidays (the more glitter the better.) But I’m sure some people would consider those ugly, so to each her own!

Come down to the Toronto Christmas Market on Saturday, December 19 at 7 and 8pm to see Clara Venice’s magical performance!

 

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I Heart XMAS with Rebecca Lau

Welcome to the I Heart XMAS Q&A, where Retro Festive asks notable Canadians about their own Christmas traditions and what they would like to find under the tree!

Rebecca Lau
@RebeccaLau
Global Halifax Reporter & Anchor

Rebecca Lau

What is your favourite Christmas movie or TV special?
I’m not sure if this is considered a classic Christmas movie (it is now!), but I’ve always loved Home Alone. It brings back memories of watching it with my family as a kid and who can resist that heart-tugging scene when Kevin hugs his mom at the end? Ah, I’m getting teary-eyed just thinking about it.

Does your family have a special or quirky Christmas tradition?
In my family, Santa Claus is the one who gives practical presents. One year, he gave me a heavy duty rechargeable flashlight when all the other little girls received Barbies. I thought it was pretty cool.

Which do you prefer: to give or receive?
Why not both? Especially if the gift is food. Then we can share. Yummmmmmmm.

Which Peanuts character do you think your friends and family would say reminds them of you?
I’d like to think I’m lovable like Charlie. But I’d bet my mom (and husband?) thinks I’m more of a bossy Lucy.
Lucy Charlie Brown

 

Ugly Christmas Sweaters: Not a Chance – or – The Uglier the Better?
The uglier the better! Nothing gets you into the spirit quite like a bright purple acrylic sweater featuring Rudolph’s face with a red pom pom nose. (This is something I may, or may not, actually own)

What do you want Santa to bring you this year?
I’d love an all-inclusive trip somewhere warm. A new rechargeable flashlight would be nice too. My old one broke, Santa.

 

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I Heart XMAS with Liam Nixon

Welcome to the I Heart XMAS Q&A, where Retro Festive asks notable Canadians about their own Christmas traditions and what they would like to find under the tree!

Liam Nixon
@GlobalLiamNixon
Global Lethbridge Anchor/Producer/Newsroom Manager

Liam Nixon

 

What is your favourite Christmas movie or TV special? 

It definitely has to be ‘A Christmas Story’.  Haven’t we all experienced a ‘Ralphie moment’ where we’re all bundled up to head outside in the cold… only to realize we really have to pee?  Or maybe I’m alone in that…

Does your family have a special or quirky Christmas tradition?
My mom used to make Tourtière, a delicious French-Canadian meat pie.  We also used to open our presents one at a time with up to 15 people in the house. Needless to say the first time it took over ten hours to get them all opened, that tradition was quickly and emphatically voted down.

Which do you prefer: to give or receive?
I feel as though I SHOULD say ‘give’, but really, who doesn’t like ripping into a gift?!  However, seeing the look on someone else’s face when they open that perfect gift from you is pretty special. Can we call it a tie?

Which Peanuts character do you think your friends and family would say reminds them of you?
Definitely Linus, minus the need for a security blanket.

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Ugly Christmas Sweaters: Not a Chance – or – The Uglier the Better?
I’m all about the ugly. The inclusion of blinking Christmas lights on the sweater earns bonus points.

What do you want Santa to bring you this year?
With 15-month old twins, an extra set of hands and three-day weekends would be pretty great. But, since neither of those is overly realistic, just the continued health and happiness of my family and friends.

 

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