Shining faces … precious voices … proud parents … Is there anything more moving during the holidays than children’s Christmas choirs? Not much. And it’s especially heartwarming when you don’t even have a child up there and you haven’t spent the past three months in frantic dashes to rehearsals or the past three days in frantic hunts for a white blouse that everybody can agree on (ah, memories!) — you simply can sit back and enjoy. And that’s what I did this past weekend at the annual Community Choir Christmas Concert sponsored by the Rotary Club in Manchester, Tennessee. This is my dad’s project. He’s been organizing this concert for the past 14 years — combining choir music and Rotary, two of his favorite things. He loves it and everybody who comes to listen feels blessed. I’ll bet there were concerts like this everywhere this past weekend, along with open houses, parades and parties as December deepens and the 25th gets closer and free weekends and evenings get scarce. A side benefit to all the activity? Catching up with folks you may only see once a year. Several of my high-school classmates sing in the community choir, so we all go out afterwards. I know what you’re thinking when you look at this pic: “There is no way these people graduated high school 33 years ago! They are far too young and hip to be 50-plus!” Thank you for the compliment. And in fact you would think that if you had heard our conversation — riding new Harley-Davidsons (and this was not the lone male alum, either), installing environmentally friendly pool-filtration systems, eating the raw-food way and discussing details of the upcoming class-reunion Caribbean cruise. And of course there were a few grandbaby pics passed around.
And what would the holidays be without Christmas movies? All year I look forward to December, when I have the perfect excuse to pop in my favorite holiday DVDs and declare a family movie night. And be honest: Wouldn’t you rather lounge around in PJs in front of the TV and be lazy than get dressed up in heels and go out and be social? I thought as much. So in honor of this tradition, this week I’m counting down my top five holiday movies. See if you agree with my picks, and please weigh in with your own. Every day I’ll post my favorite, ending on Friday with the absolute best Christmas movie ever in the whole world. You don’t want to miss it. So here we go: At the No. 5 spot: The 1998 love-story “You’ve Got Mail” with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. I know, I know — it’s sort of silly and prettified and manipulative and you’ve got the whole sneaking-around-via-e-mail thing and slightly creepy concealing-identity-possibly-stalking problem, but despite those glitches, I adore this movie. Don’t you, really? It’s not truly a Christmas story, but the Christmas scenes are so sweet and New York looks so festive. Plus, this is the movie that moved Joni Mitchell’s “River” to everybody’s favorite-Christmas-song list, so for that alone it gets props. Tomorrow: At a surprise No. 4, this one ranks higher on most other lists but not on mine. Check in on Tuesday to find out why.