Christmas in July: Yuletide fun for chilly summer nights

SHARE Christmas in July: Yuletide fun for chilly summer nights

Whether it’s the fault of the polar vortex or not, odds are we’ll be facing unusually low temperatures this week, another tough blow for sun worshipers already frustrated by the summer that seemed like it would never arrive.

How are we supposed to manage the constant stymieing of our plans for SPF-scented barbecues and languid days at the beach? Here’s an idea: Abandon them.

Instead, embrace the inevitable and just pretend it’s the holidays. Surrender to the candles-in-the-window-carols-at-the-spinet climes and give yourself over to Christmas in July.

You’ll be getting a lot of help from TV and movies:

— Netflix is aiming to please with a full punchbowl of holiday films including “Love Actually,” “Bad Santa,” “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians” and quite a few old made-for-cable Christmas cheapies.

— Glistening treetops have dominated recent schedules at the Hallmark Channel, where they suffer withdrawal if they go too long without a fresh jolt of evergreen and eggnog. Prime time on Sunday, for example, offers chances to revisit “Debbie Macomber’s Trading Christmas,” starring Gil Bellows, and “A Princess for Christmas” with Roger Moore. And the cable channel just announced seven new yuletide movies in the works for its regular boughs-of-holly binge later this year, starting with the debut in just 18 short weeks of “Northpole,” starring Tiffani Thiessen and Robert Wagner.

— On the big screen, longtime local filmmaker Joe Swanberg directs and acts in “Happy Christmas,” starring Anna Kendrick as a slacker who shows up at the Most Wonderful Time of the Year to crash with her brother (Swanberg) and his wife (Melanie Lynskey), a frustrated mom in suburban Chicago. Already available on demand, it opens at the Music Box on the less-than-merry date of July 25. Calling it “a movie before it’s a Christmas movie,” Swanberg told Salon that “Happy Christmas” would have been lost in the glut of December releases. “So this is fun, because it kind of gets to have its theatrical run and its primary VOD run in the summer. And then, the timing should work out nicely where it lands on DVD around the holidays, and people who want to discover it that way can kind of have that opportunity.”

— Not ready for a snowy holiday? Try a sandy one at Navidades en Julio, a festival demonstrating how they do Christmas in Puerto Rico. There will be bands from the island, an art sale and plates of roasted pork and arroz con gandules. It runs from 1 to 8 p.m. July 19 at Bowen Park in Waukegan.

— While you’re in a mistletoe mood, think about snapping up the tickets already on sale for Christmas concerts that may or may not happen, depending on snow on the roads and at the airports. Already on sale are not-so-silent nights starring Brian Setzer (Nov. 19, Rialto Square), Johnny Mathis (Dec. 6, Rosemont Theatre); Ronnie Spector (Dec. 7, Arcada Theatre), Mannheim Steamroller (Dec. 12, Rialto; Dec. 20, Rosemont) and Dave Koz (Dec. 13, Chicago Theatre), Just last week, a bikini-clad Leann Rimes was flouncing around with elves to hype her caroling tour that comes to the Arcada on Dec. 18.

— The team behind “Dee Snider’s Rock and Roll Christmas Tale” could be taking vacation right now, but no — they’re not gonna take it. In July, scenery is being built, lighting and sound are being designed and the Twisted Sister singer’s backup cast (all Chicagoans) is being signed on the way to the Broadway in Chicago musical’s world premiere in November.

— The volume of new Christmas albums on the way suggests at least a few musicians are spending July in the studio, hanging garlands and twinkly lights to get in the mood to cover “Jingle Bell Rock.” Reportedly planning to spring carols collections in the fall are Rimes, Michael W. Smith, Seth MacFarlane and Mariah Carey (dueling with Disney characters).

— Still think it’s too early to start thinking Christmas? Tell it to this lady …

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