Christmas Videos

Yesterday we went to get our Christmas tree. As the man at the place came to cut down the tree for us, my daughter Charlotte pulled out her iPhone and said, “oh, let me get a video of this.” Four seconds later she was ready, and the tree was cut while her brothers cried out “TIMBER.”

The Naz Clan in front if the tree that moments later met its fate.

The Naz Clan in front of the tree that moments later met its holiday fate.

This little moment got me thinking about how far we have come with video technology. It literally took her four seconds to go from nothing to shooting HD video on a device that also does 1,000 other things. Years ago, my kids and I got involved in a little video at Christmastime and it involved something called tape (remember video tapes?) and way more time than four seconds.

So, grab your popcorn and get ready for the story of the three legendary Nazarian Christmas videos.

My wife and I were married in May 1999. For Christmas later that year, we used our wedding invitation list as the basis for sending holiday cards. We sat at our dining room table, wrote out a personal message and an addressed an envelope for each. It was a fun activity that filled two chilly December evenings.

This practice continued for three years as our first three children came into the world, Charlotte in June 2000, Lewis in June 2001 and Oliver in October 2002. Of course we started adding 4×6 glossy pictures of the adorable children.

As the years went by, many of our friends began including “the year in review” type letters with their Christmas cards. As informative and cute as they were, these letters just didn’t feel like us. That said, we needed to do something because the task of inscribing a personal note in each of 100+ cards was becoming nearly impossible with three (& eventually four) children under toe.

So, for our Christmas card in 2002, I wrote up an amusing incident from earlier in the year that involved a 2.5-year-old Charlotte, a 1.5-year-old Lewis and a quarter-keg of beer. Someday I will share that story in another post – it is too good to reveal here.

We included a copy of the story in each card, and it served as an entertaining “window” into life in our house, without enumerating each child’s individual progress on the potty. We had found our niche.

In 2003 I can’t remember what we added (maybe nothing), but in 2003 instead of a story, we created a flowchart (in Visio) of a day in our crazy life, which included fun decision paths like:

  • Is the dog still alive?
  • Does Steve have a job?

Again, it was a hit. However, in outdoing myself I established a dangerous precedent where every recipient on our list was each Christmas expecting something cleverer than the year before.

It was in 2005 I decided to take things to a whole new level and began shooting music videos with the kids.

Around this time, we used to listen to the kid’s channel on satellite radio whenever I had the kids in my car. They had several favorites among the regularly played songs, but one in particular was always met with cheers. It is a song called Yeah Toast, by comedian Heywood Banks. So in our first attempt at a Christmas video, Yeah Toast was the song.

Luckily, at the time I was working for a CD and DVD manufacturer, so we were able to mass produce a DVD and include one with every card. I have no idea how many hours it took to pull this off, but it was more than thirty and probably closer to fifty.

Here it is, but keep in mind it is the first of three:

As you can imagine, the video was well received, but in my attempt to pull off a second one the next year, life’s complexities conspired against me and it simply didn’t happen.

I think we stuffed another amusing story into the cards in 2006 and the response was nothing short of furious.

We received emails, phone calls and personal notes in later arriving Christmas cards demanding another video. Luckily, my inability to get a second one out in year two established an every-other-year schedule. Whew.

By the time 2007 was in its fourth quarter, a song had bubbled up in the family consciousness to the point where it was an obvious choice. It is one of those songs that everyone knows, but nobody knows anything about. I have always spelled it Mahna-Mahna, but here is a link to the Wikipedia page that tells the whole story:

The Story of Mahna-Mahana

 

As you will see in the video, the kids grew a lot in two years:

Two years later in 2009, it was time to do it again. This time the song was another obvious choice from the satellite radio children’s catalog. The song is called What Kind Of Cat Are You, by singer Billy Jonas. In the six years since we first posted it, it has garnered more than 34,000 views on YouTube. Having had the other two videos yanked from YouTube for copyright violations, we got out ahead of this one by emailing Billy Jonas’ manager and asking them to leave it alone. They enthusiastically agreed.

So, here is the third and final Nazarian Christmas video:

All three videos were all a lot of fun to make and share, and although the technology has made it easier over the years, it turns out teenagers are much harder to work with than little kids (who knew). According to my wife Emily, “they’re just not that cute anymore.” We talked about it in 2011, but we couldn’t agree on a song and before too long it was too late to start.

It was fun while it lasted and I hope some day to see my grandchildren in similar productions. Only time will tell.

What fun Christmas traditions does your family have?  The stranger the better… spill it y’all.

Copyright © 2015 – Stephen S. Nazarian – All rights reserved.

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