The festive five

November 2021

When it comes to Christmas, few in our city would have a deeper knowledge of what evokes the warmest feelings than Marjorie Knutson. For 31 years, she’s operated Victoria’s Cupboard in the historic Times Journal Building on May Street. The second floor is devoted solely to Christmas related treasures.

We asked Marjorie to share her thoughts on what the season means and her favourite five Christmas songs.

Music has been a very important part of my life. My formative years were spent in Geraldton listening to the old fashion cabinet radio with the red light signifying that the power was on (one soon realized that it was a no-no to touch as it got very hot). I was influenced by the popular music of the 1950’s having a brother who was 10 years older and a sister who was 7 years older than me.

My husband John was part of the folk group, The Ramblers, at PACI in the 1960’s so another genre of music evolved in my selection of music.

As with most, my musical repertoire varied from one decade to the another; however, the one constant was my love of Christmas music. New ones have been added along the way.
Hallmark movies always tug at our heartstrings and one in particular, “Angels and Ornaments”, fits the criteria of a feel-good story ending with a beautiful unexpected theme song “Twas the night before Christmas” sung by the star Jessalyn Gilsig. I would highly recommend watching it as it is a perennial favourite of ours.

Our store always plays background music to set a calm stressless shopping experience for our customers. It sets us apart and adds to the ambience of a memorable shopping experience.

Pre-pandemic, we had a very talented pianist play our in-store baby grand piano which once graced our home. The selection of music that I choose reflects that same instrumental theme and customers cannot differentiate between live and pre-recorded music.

My list of favourite Christmas music is varied and includes some obscure selections.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s
Christmas Carol
The first time I saw them perform on a PBS special and play this rendition, I realized that I would have to go out and purchase the CD. Unfortunately, none of the other selections carried as much impact as this one, so I was now to put “Christmas Carol” on repeat several times. I’m sure my staff didn’t appreciate hearing it over and over again, but they tolerated it! Needless to say, it is one of my all-time favourites!

Roger Miller’s
“Old Toy Trains” (1967),
also titled “Little Toy Trains”
This reminds me of my brief teaching career in Toronto. When our son Peter was born, it reminded me of the wonders of childhood and the excitement of children at this magical time of year. Ironically the You Tube version sung by Roger Miller has a series of still photos throughout the song and at one point when he sings “close your eyes…” there is a photo of a little blond hair boy in a one-piece sleeper that could be Peter’s twin.

Little Drummer Boy
This was our son’s favourite when he was a little boy. At a young age all he wanted from Santa was a little snare drum just like the one depicted in drawings of the Little Drummer Boy. That year at a neighbourhood Christmas party, Santa presented Peter with his drum! Wishes do come true! I still get a lump in my throat when I think of the happiness that little toy brought him. We still have it as a reminder that life’s simple pleasures are priceless.

O Holy Night
This tune embodies the true meaning of Christmas for me. Sitting in a dimly lit church during a Christmas Eve mass and hearing the choir sing this angelic song brings a feeling of calm and peace during what is a very hectic season in retail. I will often catch myself humming this tune especially when I’m feeling tense. It truly is a classic!

Josh Groban
from the movie The Polar Express
This is a reminder of believing in the magic of Christmas through the eyes of a child. Those familiar with the story will remember that only those who believe in Santa Claus and the Christmas spirit can hear Santa’s bell. Many years ago, I received a faulty silver bell that was missing the clapper that creates the sound. I still have that bell and have been known to bring it out when a grumpy customer comes in with his wife. After explaining the story and asking him if he hears anything with the faulty bell,

I’ll switch to another bell that rings and exclaim “You do believe!”. This is followed by laughter and hopefully a positive attitude as he continues on his shopping excursion.

Unfortunately, not all of us are able to enjoy the Christmas season for one reason or another. If it’s due to being unemployed or poverty stricken, there are organizations such as Christmas Cheer, Toys for Tots and the Dew Drop Inn who will help ensure that those less fortunate can savour a memorable holiday season. We can do our part in assisting through monetary donations or volunteer work.

Finally, four honourable mentions go to the following which also contribute to a fuzzy warm feeling: “Angels We have Heard on High”, “The First Noel”, “Carol of the Bells” and finally for the child in us “Must Be Santa”. All of the songs that I have mentioned can be viewed and listened to on You Tube.

I hope this rekindles the Spirit of Christmas in all of you. Just believe!

Bill Wrightsell is a marketing consultant and regular contributor to Bayview Magazine. Email him at

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