Tube Talk: Tuning in some holiday spirit

By Paula Hendrickson

Contributing Writer

Now that my halls are decked, and we’re under the first winter storm watch of the season, it is beginning to feel a lot like Christmas around here.

As a huge Christmas music fan always on the lookout for unusual holiday tunes, I’ve been listening to (or is that watching?) Comcast’s digital music channels: Sounds of the Season (882) and Soft Rock (868). Both have been playing Christmas songs since Nov. 1. Some of the other music channels are mixing in a few holiday tunes, too.

Music is great accompaniment to baking. While I’ve tailored my annual baking down to just a few of my family’s top favorites (Fudgy bon-bons; Mrs. Anderson’s cinnamon bread; chocolate-almond toffee; and I’m hoping my niece and nephew will assist me in baking—and decorating—some special cookies for Santa), the baking has yet to begin. Once that cinnamon bread starts rising, it won’t only look like Christmas around here; it will be full-on sensory overload.

I’m always open to new recipes to try, so each year I subscribe to Food Network’s free “Twelve Days of Cookies” e-mail service. A couple years ago, one of the recipes, S’more Rockin’ Reindeer Ravioli, was featured on a Food Network special about Christmas cookies. The cookies were labor intensive, but delicious. Not something I’d make every year, but definitely worth keeping on file. If you’re looking for interesting new recipes, turn to Food Network or some of the PBS cooking shows, like America’s Test Kitchen, for inspiration. (Word of warning, I just made several attempts to find the s’mores recipe at, but it didn’t turn up.)

Likewise, if you need some holiday decorating tips, just turn on HGTV any evening in December, and you’re bound to find some home décor and outdoor decorating specials. If you’re not into baking, decorating, or listening to Christmas music, maybe you prefer watching holiday-themed movies. Lifetime Movie Network, Hallmark Channel, and ABC Family all have several original made-for-TV holiday movies.

This year, Lifetime Movie Network completes a trilogy based on Donna VanLiere’s popular books. The first two—The Christmas Shoes and The Christmas Blessing aired on LMN’s parent network, CBS, in 2002 and 2005, and will be re-broadcast immediately before the Dec. 13 premiere of the new movie, The Christmas Hope, at 7 p.m. This last installment of the trilogy stars Madeleine Stowe, Ian Ziering and James Remar.

Hallmark Channel had holiday specials every day “from noon to midnight” (Eastern). Some of their movies have already premiered, but Billy Ray Cyrus (aka Miley’s dad) has a new TV movie, Christmas in Canaan, debuting Dec. 12, and Dean Cain adds another holiday film to his résumé with The Three Gifts, Dec. 19. Both air at 7 p.m.

But the mother lode of Christmas cheer can be found on ABC Family, which continues its 25 Days of Christmas tradition by adding new movies to a growing list of viewer favorites. This year, their Web site has a cool virtual snowglobe you can add your own images to and, well, shake yourself up. Go to, click on “25 Days” and then “snowglobe.”

With the snowflakes flying, I’m all for staying in and baking cookies while blaring the Christmas tunes, or sitting by the tree (or fireside, if you prefer) watching a holiday movie or playing with a virtual snowglobe.

Paula Hendrickson is a regular contributor to Emmy magazine and Variety, and has been published in numerous national publications, including American Bungalow, Television Week and TVGuide. Send in your suggestions to

From the Dec. 9-15, 2009 issue

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