As you prepare for the holidays, check out our final faves of 2016!
George Hanlin, director of grants:
My parents were none too happy when I sang “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” at the family’s Christmas celebration circa 1983, and I suppose other moms and dads felt the same. But despite decades of disdain, the song has become a yuletide chestnut, and mental_floss has the story.
The holiday-music jukebox features a classic song with Hoosier connections too: “Jingle Bell Rock,” made famous by Martinsville, Indiana, native Bobby Helms. This Indianapolis Star article from a few years ago offers a few insights into the song’s origins.
Finally, did you know that Benjamin Harrison of Indiana was the first president to have a Christmas tree in the White House? The White House Historical Association presents this tidbit and other holiday trivia on its website.
Kristen Fuhs Wells, director of communications and development:
- As someone who loves to eat like a local, I’m intrigued by this CityLab article about what makes food ‘American’ and how flavors can unite a people.
Leah Nahmias, director of programs:
- Liven up your holiday music selections with this interactive “singing map” of Christmas music from around the world, created by Smithsonian Folkways Recordings.
- Dream road trip: recreate Jane Smiley’s tour of ancient Ireland’s mysterious tombs. (Before you go, be sure to read How the Irish Saved Civilization, too.)
- Shirley Hazzard, who wrote two books, both of them transcendent, passed away last week. Her lovely, delicate and sometimes difficult novel The Great Fire is one of my all-time favorites. If you need something transportive to read over the holidays, let it be this.
Keira Amstutz, president and CEO:
- Test your knowledge of festive song lyrics with this fun quiz.
I recently learned that my heritage is part Welsh. Now I’m dreaming of traveling to this gorgeous hotel that doubles as a library.
Jacqueline Cromleigh, communications and community relations manager:
- Take a look back at the gift giving traditions of our past.
- I have a few books to add to my 2017 reading list thanks to Brain Picking’s fantastic collection of 2016 reads. Time travel, historic moments, hope – this list covers it all.
Bronwen Fetters, executive assistant and program associate:
- This week I was quite amused by Comma Queen Mary Norris and the New Yorker staff celebrating the holidays with a fun rendition of “The 12 Days of Christmas.”
- The New York Times asked a variety of famous avid readers, including beloved Indiana author John Green, to share what they read this year.
What are your favorite highlights from the week? We would love to hear from you in the comment section below.