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Published: Saturday, 12/22/2001

The Web is alive with thoughts of Christmas

BY TOM GEARHART
BLADE FEATURES EDITOR

Christmas is just around the corner, and if you're desperate for, say, a good recipe for cooking a Christmas goose or new recipes for Christmas cookies; if you want lyrics to traditional carols that you can sing on the neighbors' doorsteps, or if you're looking to buy tickets to out-of-town events online before you leave for the holidays, here are some sites worth visiting before Christmas Day dawns:

  • Among the thousands of sites celebrating Christmas, it would be impossible to declare one better or more comprehensive than another. Still, you'd be hard put to find one as ambitious as Christmas Links, a Geocities.com site that provides a portal to hundreds of sites devoted exclusively to Dec. 25.

    There are recipes galore, from Victorian dinner menus to Slovak food and drink, along with all kinds of ideas for baking cookies and other sweet treats; unabridged stories ranging from Truman Capote's A Christmas Memory to Dylan Thomas's A Child's Christmas in Wales, featuring an audio clip of the poet reciting an excerpt in his sonorous voice; Christmas traditions from around the world; Christmas for kids; Christmas screen savers and wallpaper for downloading; cards to be sent; songs to be sung; Christmas cursors to adorn your mouse arrow; letters you can read from Santa and e-mail forms for sending letters to Santa; tips on fireproofing the Christmas tree, and “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year” as said in more than 350 languages.

    (Quick quiz: Name the language of this Christmas greeting: “Gozhqq Keshmish.” And this: “Nixtieqlek Milied Tajjeb u Sena Tajba.” Answers: 1. Apache. 2. Maltese.)

  • Christopher R. Baker, a computer programmer and former choir director from northern California, has devoted long hours to building “An Online Christmas Songbook” at RememberJosie.org. His hard work has resulted in 104 pages of Christmas sheet music, including such traditional hymns as “Silent Night” and “Angels We Have Heard on High” and such lesser-known carols as “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” and “Once in Royal David's City.” Each carol includes a midi file that plays the melody on an organ.

  • Wherever you happen to be traveling over the holidays, CultureFinder.com will tell you everything you want to know about plays, musicals, dance, opera, and the visual arts in dozens, perhaps hundreds, of cities all over the country, from New York to San Francisco. Search by city, state, category, event, or venue. The site calls itself both an arts guide and a ticketing service, and invites you to order online before leaving home. Click on “Christmas” in the keyword search box and the site whisks you to specific holiday events from coast to coast.

    http://www.geocities.com/SouthBeach/Strand/4287/xmas.html

    http://www.rememberjosie.org/carols/

    http://www.culturefinder.com

    A couple more sites, recommended here last year, deserve repeating:

  • “It is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when its mighty Founder was a child himself.” So wrote Charles Dickens, the great Victorian writer, who remains the embodiment of Father Christmas himself, most notably through his 1843 masterpiece, A Christmas Carol. David Perdue's fabulous site provides a wealth of delightful reading and full texts of Dickens' work. And none is more festival than the “Christmas Carol” page, decked with ivy and boughs of holly.

    http://www.fidnet.com/(tilde)dap1955/dickens/christmas.html

  • “Ode to Christmas” is a breathless satire on the commercial side of the holiday, and National Public Radio reruns it every year. Written and delivered by Chuck Kramer, a TV commentator from Boston, “Ode” is a cynical but good-natured commentary on just how far the original meaning of Christmas has strayed in the shopping malls of America. At the NPR site, just type “Ode to Christmas” in the search box to hear Kramer's hilarious survey of our addiction to material goods.

  • NPR's other holiday staple is correspondent Susan Stamberg's famous recipe for her mother-in-law's recipe for cranberry relish, which probably has just as many proponents as detractors. Why? Well, the relish combines cranberries, onions, sugar, sour cream, and ... two tablespoons of red horseradish, creating a condiment that reporter Stamberg freely admits takes on the color of Pepto-Bismol. Still, there are plenty of people who sing Mama Stamberg's praises, including a folk singer who has set the recipe to music. This, too, can be heard at NPR.

    http://www.npr.org

    If you have a Web site to recommend, send an e-mail to tgearhart@theblade.com.



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