December Aesthetics

Entertainment for every flavour of winter

Matt Shipley (He/Him) // Contributor
C. Palomar Robisco // Ilustrator

By the Fireside

Not all of us see the winter holiday as three weeks to run around throwing piles of snow at each other. Sometimes, all we really want are calm, warm evenings with family and friends, sharing hot chocolate, marshmallows and stories. This is a chill collection fit for any Christmas occasion, featuring family-friendly movies, well-known shows to watch with your little cousins, light-hearted reads and a healthy dose of jazz.

Movies:

Klaus (2019) A wonderful, imaginative animated story that doesn’t laser-focus on       Christmas as a holiday. 

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) This one’s a classic. Tim Burton strikes again with this bright, family-friendly Christmas/Halloween merger.

The Polar Express (2004)  Arguably the most well-known story of the three, The Polar Express is your classic animated Christmas story.

Books:

Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust This one will keep you on the couch long after the fire dies down. Fantasy, found family, forbidden love. What more could you want?

I’ll Be Home For Christmas by Mason Deaver A wonderful short story filled with family, commitment and golden retrievers. You’ll get as much enjoyment out of it as the kids you’ll read to sleep.

One Way Or Another by Kara McDowell Another all-nighter, this story follows an anxious teen as she struggles with the decision: How will she spend the holidays?

Shows:

Avatar: The Last Airbender (2005) We all know it, we all love it. The kids want to watch something? Here’s the answer. Still one of the greatest TV shows of all time, ATLA is enjoyable for the whole family.

Last Exile (2005) This one takes itself more seriously than ATLA, but there are themes that are understandable to all audiences. This is the show you put on to pretend you’re appeasing the kids, when you’re really the one having a blast.

She-Ra (2018) The only show that any LGBTQ+ or questioning kids will ever want. The storyline is good, the whimsicality is a huge plus, and, once again, it’s enjoyable for all ages.

Music:

O Tannenbaum – Vince Guaraldi Trio  Straight from A Charlie Brown Christmas, this is my favourite track off of one of the most well-known jazz records of all time. It’s easy, it’s chill, it’s great for every occasion.

The First Noel – Chet Baker Chet’s trumpet playing is just So Good. Another smoother jazz tune, this is the quintessential Christmas Morning listen.

Greensleeves – John Coltrane  Better known for his intricate, lightning-fast bebop tunes, Greensleeves is a cool, loving tribute to the original tune. I listen to this one on repeat whenever I’m puttering around the kitchen, rushing to get Christmas dinner together in time.

Powder Chasers

This winter’s meant to be a La Niña year, meaning we’ll get generally cooler temperatures and more snowfall. If that gives you the itch to grab your skis off the wall and go climb a mountain, this section’s definitely for you. Featuring ski/snowboard films, books by professional athletes, and some music to make you feel like the fastest skier in the world, this is sure to get you stoked for the winter season!

Movies:

 Jeremy Jones’ Higher (2014) The culmination of Jeremy Jones’s award-winning Deeper,  Further, Higher trilogy, the mood straight from the first shot is that of gigantic mountains and tiny people. Plus, the opening sequence is Fantastic.

Blank Canvas (2020) A new film follows an ex-pro female snowboard racer dropping into the backcountry scene, and sending lines that even the best in the world have never attempted. A true success story for women in sport.

The Continuum (1996) Old but gold. I always love the nostalgia that those old films bring, watching the outtakes and seeing the gigantic pieces of video-recording machinery they managed to lug way back into the Tetons. The old generation was the true send dynasty.

Shows:

Cody Townsend’s The Fifty (YouTube) Diving into the logic, process and danger of attempting to ski and climb all fifty Classic Ski Descents of North America (see book section), Cody Townsend immerses you in this project with a really great, light-hearted viewpoint.

Shred Hacks (Red Bull TV) For those who picked up a snowsport within the last few years, whether it was to appease a partner or to try something new, this series has everything from beginner tutorials to advanced, ride-with-the-pros episodes.

Michelle Parker’s Originate (Red Bull TV) The story of a winning Freeride World Tour athlete is bound to be action-packed, and this series delivers. Deep powder, good stories, and inside looks on the athlete’s life make for an intriguing watch.

Books:

Brave Enough by Jessie Diggins A riveting read from one of cross-country skiing’s top female athletes. You definitely don’t need to be a cross-country skier to find this book enjoyable.

The Fifty Classic Ski Descents of North America by Chris Davenport, Penn Newhard and Art Burrows The inspiration behind Cody Townsend’s The Fifty is this legendary coffee-table book. Featuring beautiful, full-page spread photos of each line, as well as good backcountry stories to go along with each of them, this book will stoke your fire like nothing else.

Every Crushing Stroke by Scott Shipley I kind of cheated on this one, because it’s written by my uncle, but hey, it’s really good. He follows his entire career and training, through his double-digit world championship appearances to his experiences at the Olympics. I always feel a bit uncool, comparatively, when I read it, but that’s just me looking up to my uncle.

Music:

Coldplay – People Of The Pride Hype music time!! Whether you’re shredding inbounds with headphones in, or sitting at the computer trying to find the perfect tune for your latest backcountry edit, this one’s sure to get you started!

Volbeat – My Body “My body tells me no, but I won’t quit, ‘cause I want more.” This is the One More Lap mantra. Tired? Maybe feeling a blister coming on? Take another lap anyway and make the most of that season’s pass!

daysormay – Just Existing A local Vernon band made up of young ex-ski racers? Yes please. Their unique alternative music has been acclaimed across the country, and it just so happens that it’s also a great playlist to shred to!

Sleeping In and Staying In

Maybe it’s just not your day. Maybe you had plans, but it’s pouring rain outside and everyone else bailed. Maybe you just hate winter in general. Either way, if you’re looking for some slow, kind-of-sad music, movies and shows that will keep you in your own space no matter how many times the fam asks you to go skiing with them, and books rife with heartburn, look no further.

Movies:

Frozen (2010) Hailed as the Jaws of skiing, this horror film follows a group of people trapped on a chairlift in a storm, making every possible wrong decision. Perfect for if you don’t like the winter.

Arctic (2018) A pilot crashes in the middle of the Arctic, and has to go to extreme lengths to make sure his injured passenger survives. It’s hard to make a film with such a small cast work, but the director pulls it off with style.

Fargo (1996) Dark, bloody comedy. This rust-belt winter film has everything you could possibly want, from endless gallows humor to grisly action.

Shows:

Cardinal (2017) One of two murder mysteries on this list, this one follows a Canadian detective (home turf, baby!). Winter true crime? Good. Canadian winter true crime? Even better.

Snowpiercer (2021) An incredible take on modern dystopia, Snowpiercer follows the last bastion of humanity: a single train that circles the globe. Themes of rampant inequality, class struggle, and oligarchy make this a more than binge-worthy show.

The Bridge (2011) Another murder mystery, this one is a critically acclaimed Swedish hit. Apparently, Sweden is the place to look for good murder mysteries, because this one blew me off my feet. If you don’t watch the whole thing in one go, you’re either sleepy or deranged.

Books:

Girls Of Paper And Fire by Natasha Ngan This is the first book in, down pat, my favourite trilogy in the world. It takes a well-used trope and spins it into a lyrical, poetic saga of tragedy, trauma and love. The second book hits even harder, and the third one released on November 23rd! (Still waiting for my copy though.)

These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong Young writers unite! This book is a NYT bestseller for good reason. A gory, yet beautiful homage to Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, this book follows a number of gangsters dueling it out in 1920s Shanghai as a mysterious threat looms beneath the waves of the Huangpu River. Fraught with a heart-burning love story and family tragedy galore, this one will keep you up all night.

The Infinity Courts by Akemi Dawn Bowman Betrayal! Betrayal! The characters leap off the page in this novel filled with  uncertainty. The girlboss trope thrives here, and we’re here for it.

Music:

Mumford & Sons – After The Storm With the B.C. flooding still fresh, this tune has taken on a new meaning. Sad, quiet, and reflective, it’s the perfect I-don’t-want-to-get-up anthem.

Avett Brothers – I and Love and You Summer loving’s over, and if that all left you behind, here’s a scintillating ballad that you could learn on the piano and play for your ex if that’s your style.

Dala – Crushed Another sad one, though for me this is more of a “I had a bad day and I’m just trying to sleep” kind of tune. A few more of the tunes off of their album carry the same vibe, but this one takes the cake.

Deck The Hallmarks

We all know the good old Hallmark vibe. Sappy, predictable romances to laugh along with, long, expensive trips to the mall and those ever-present glittery cards. This is a great soup of popular Christmas tunes, romance films and books, and shows to make fun of once the kids have gone to bed. Important note: A lot of these movies and shows aren’t just corny, they’re actively bad. If you’re not one who laughs at accidental cringe comedy, you’d probably rather skip them altogether.

Movies:

A Very Merry Mix-Up (2013) This has constantly been listed on the Top 10 Worst Hallmark Films of All Time, and let me tell you, those lists are NOT wrong. I’m not much of a laugh-at-other-people’s-downfall kind of guy, but did I ever have cruel tears in my eyes ten minutes into this one.

Stop The Wedding (2016) Another Top Ten Worst contender, and you can already tell by the title that it’s going to be a long couple of hours. But, I mean, if you’re putting on a Hallmark flick, it’s because you already know how it ends and just want to laugh at the ups and downs of a predictable romance story. Well worth a watch.

Coming Home For Christmas (2017) This one’s on the less-terrible end of Hallmark films. I’m not entirely sure if that disqualifies it from this aesthetic, but at least this one’s watchable with the whole family! If you want a break from overdramatic Christmas flicks, or whatever horror film your older cousin’s watching too loudly downstairs, this one’s for you.

Shows:

The Office (especially the holiday episodes) (2005) Again – we all know it, we all love it. The Office hits the nail on the head once again with Christmas stories full of hijinks, laughs and tears.

M*A*S*H (especially the holiday episodes) (1972) I grew up on DVDs of this show, and I can only hope that this article draws more of you into it. It is a masterpiece of comedy. The holiday episodes are just the beginning – you’ll be laughing at every episode no matter what time of year it is.

Home For Christmas (2019) Full of laughs and tickled with absurdity, this good old holiday doomed-romantic story follows a perpetually-single girl who is determined to bring home a boyfriend for Christmas.

Books:

Ex-Mas by Kate Brian The longing-for-the-ex trope has been beaten to death, but isn’t that what the Hallmark vibe is all about? Every reader will find a bit of themselves in this joyful, tear-filled YA novel.

The Twelve Dates of Christmas by Jenny Bayliss This one is a Hallmark movie waiting to happen. The title gives it away, and if that interests you, the book will blow away your expectations.

The Holiday Swap by Maggie Knox With a main plotline straight out of Juno, this rom-com follows two twins as they switch lives in the days preceding Christmas. What could possibly go wrong?

Music:

Josh Groban – Little Drummer Boy Most people will recognize this, even if they don’t know it. Josh Groban is as much of a Christmas staple as Michael Buble and Mariah Carey, though a lot of his tunes involve a twist of comedy and a refreshing step away from the lovesickness of Buble and Carey.

Pentatonix – Mary, Did You Know? Ah, the good old Pentatonix. Another group that I grew up with, they spun their own Christmas tune a few years back and absolutely smashed it. If you’re sick of the same seven Christmas tunes playing over and over and over by different artists, this tune is a welcome breath of fresh air.Bing Crosby – Do You Hear What I Hear? This one’s more of a personal favorite, but I had to include it here. It’s another tune that more of you may recognize without knowing it, and it does a wonderful job of mixing the Christian elements of Christmas with the wider, more open dialogue of a deep winter night.

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