Top Picks: 'M.F.K. Fisher’s Provence,' the Count Basie Orchestra's 'A Very Swingin’ Basie Christmas!,' and more

A holiday tradition returns with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, 'Miracle on 34th Street' returns to movie theaters, and more.

Paramount Pictures

Angelic voices

A holiday tradition returns with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. PBS will air the group’s annual concert along with the Orchestra at Temple Square Dec. 21 at 9 p.m. Need to get your kids excited about the show? “Frozen” star Santino Fontana and the characters of “Sesame Street” are scheduled to appear during the program.

Sparkle and swing

’Tis the season to be swingin’! Time for hanging lights, tapping your toes, and snapping your fingers to A Very Swingin’ Basie Christmas! by the Count Basie Orchestra. The evergreen Johnny Mathis summons a jazzier side and delivers a sizzling vocal on “It’s the Holiday Season,” and the rest of the classic yuletide tunes sparkle in classic Count Basie style. The orchestra’s founding father has been gone for three decades now, but this swinging ensemble does him proud. 

Taste of Provence

M.F.K. Fisher’s Provence is an essay and photo book that combines the words of the great food writer with images from photojournalist Aileen Ah-Tye. Fisher’s lyrical prose and scenes of everyday grace caught by Ah-Tye’s lens will remind readers of the cultural gentility that is France. The project sprang from the photographer’s desire to illustrate life in Provence as the writer experienced it. The effort will leave you refreshed and inspired. 

Holiday miracle

The 1947 film Miracle on 34th Street, which tells the story of a man who claims to be Santa Claus and the people who believe him, has become a beloved holiday classic. This year the movie, starring Edmund Gwenn and Maureen O’Hara, returns to the big screen through Fathom Events on Dec. 20 and 23. Check out to see if it will be at a theater near you.  

Two for the couch

Looking for an excuse to relax during the busy holiday season with a movie? Here are two very different options: Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation brings Tom Cruise back for another go-round, and thanks to writer-director Christopher McQuarrie, the characters are more than mere action heroes. The documentary He Named Me Malala tells the inspiring story of the life of Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai and her bravery in the face of the Taliban. Both are available on DVD and Blu-ray.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

QR Code to Top Picks: 'M.F.K. Fisher’s Provence,' the Count Basie Orchestra's 'A Very Swingin’ Basie Christmas!,' and more
Read this article in!-and-more
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today