As volunteers fan out across the state for the annual Christmas Bird Count, they’re likely to see two noteworthy species down from the north this year. Both are named "Crossbills" for unique bills that actually do cross, all the better to pry seeds from a conifer cone.

NHPR / Michael Brindley

Members of the Concord Community Music School’s Scholarship Vocal Ensemble performed Christmas songs for members of the Executive Council Tuesday morning.

You can listen here to their performances of "The First Noel" and "Joy To The World."

Gerald Charles Dickens' 'A Christmas Carol'

Dec 24, 2014
Thomas Cogley / Flickr Creative Commons

We're listening back to a seasonal favorite, our 2005 conversation with Gerald Charles Dickens, Charles Dickens's great-great-grandson and an actor. He has been touring America for the past several years with his one-man performance of "A Christmas Carol," and we spoke with him about the legacy of his namesake and the magic of "A Christmas Carol." He also performed a handful of scenes from his show.

Brady Carlson, NHPR

We all have our holiday traditions – family dinners, decorating, songs, presents... or, in one particular case, doing calculations about some of the most famous parts of the holidays.

The Ferguson decision, Eric Garner protests, and immigration are all topics we avoid at the holiday table, but opinions run free on Facebook. On today’s show what do you do when your Facebook friends make racist posts?

Plus, think ice fishing is for people who like to drink and dislike their families? The fishing nerds say the times they have-a-changed…

Also today, bad taste among the British; we’ll review the UK traditions of really bad Christmas number ones.

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.

Courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Tis the season for Christmas carols but at Something Wild one in particular captures our attention: The Twelve Days of Christmas.  There are a lot of birds featured in the song but, like so many of our carols, the lyrics are from old Europe and don’t really speak to life in 21st century New England.  So we thought maybe it’s time for an update… a rewrite… a New Hampshire Christmas carol.

We’ll skip over days twelve through eight – those all have to do with crafts people and artisans – and jump right to the important stuff – the BIRDS!

Do you recall the most famous reindeer of all? What was left out of the song was Rudolph's New Hampshire connection.

Amy via flickr Creative Commons

Sometimes considering radical medical treatments require getting over the ick factor. On today’s show, how transplanting fecal matter from one person to another has saved lives, especially for those with antibiotic resistant digestive disorders, such as clostridium difficile, or C-Diff.

Then, Christmas is next week, a festival of lights, decorated trees, parties, and for some parents, the Santa conundrum…from to elf on a shelf to carrots for Rudolph, we’ll navigate the magical world of Santa.

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.

Logan Shannon / NHPR

Last week, a GOP staffer resigned after political Facebook faux-pas - criticizing President Obama’s daughters for dressing like teenagers. On today’s show, we’ll take a look back at the long and fraught history of judging the President’s kids.

Then, these days just about every coffee shop, bookstore, and restaurant touts a free Wi-Fi hotspot – but at what cost? We’ll find out the hidden dangers of public Wi-Fi.

Plus, the industry secret behind the robust flavor of orange juice.

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.

Courtesy the WWE/Sean Hurley for NHPR

In late November, they begin to arrive. In malls, outside stores, at company parties across the country. A deluge of Santas. We don't often stop to wonder who the men are beneath the red stocking caps. And sometimes, Santa has a secret he wants to keep from us, too. 

Producer's note: While you might be tempted to read this story instead of listening to it, we recommend listening first...and reading and perusing photos later. It's worth it, we promise. 

Brady Carlson, NHPR

This month for Foodstuffs I’ve been talking with New Hampshire bakers about what they do at the holidays. This week, it’s my turn. And I’ve got a very special baker working with me - my two year old son, Owen, who has a special message for you:  “Hello, people! I’m making cookies people!’

It is perhaps the greatest scientific conundrum of our time – how does Santa do it all, getting all those toys under the tree for kids each Christmas?

Amanda Loder / NHPR

New Hampshire’s Christmas tree farms are mostly very small operations—even by Granite State standards.  

Sean Hurley

For the last 3 years, NHPR's Sean Hurley and his family get a $5 permit to cut down their Christmas Tree in the White Mountain National Forest and every year, as Sean explains in this audio postcard, they run into the same problem. 

We walk beside an ice snagged brook looking for the balsam fir we tagged with a purple ribbon the month before.  My wife Lois leads us along, interpreting the wildlife signs as we go.

Affendaddy via flickr Creative Commons

Maybe it’s the repetition, or maybe the obligatory cheeriness, but there’s something about hearing holiday songs that you don’t like that rankles much more deeply than other assaults on the senses.  We asked listeners to share their favorite seasonal tunes on our Facebook page, along with the ones they hate.

The song, “All I Want for Christmas is You” by Mariah Carey was released in 1994, and has become a Christmas standard, consistently topping the billboard holiday charts. Despite the sleigh load of holiday albums released every winter, there hasn’t been an original holiday single with the staying power of Mariah Carey’s hit for nineteen years.

So, has our culture stopped welcoming new holiday songs? Has our Christmas carol quota been met?  Chris Klimek, is here to weigh in, his article for Slate:  “All I Want For Christmas Is A New Christmas Song,” pretty much says it all.

Sherwin Sleeves

Christmas songs can quickly puncture the spirit of the season with deep rancor. NHPR’s Sean Hurley found this out for himself, when he decided to compose a new Christmas carol. Sean's song, “The Christmas La La Song” was picked up by Sirius XM shock jocks Opie and Anthony. We’ll let Sean pick it up from there. And a reminder that these are the kind of radio personalities that love to inflame…

Shannon Brinkman /

The Preservation Hall Jazz Band, one of New Orlean’s most legendary bands, will be rousing the crowds at The Music Hall in Portsmouth this Saturday with its “Creole Christmas” show… a joyful mix of Christmas tunes, jazz standards, and original music that busts out of the nutcracker and King Wenceslas mold. 

Ben Jaffe is creative director and sousaphone player for the band and joined us from the road.

Sean Hurley for NHPR

What happens when a veritable Grinch is confronted by unbridled Christmas spirit? Last year we sent favorite contributor Sean Hurley to visit a town Time Magazine dubbed one of America's "most Christmassy":

Is there a better place to celebrate Christmas than Vermont, where the air has a fragrance of pine needles and the ground is (most likely) dusted with snow? For the past 25 years, Woodstock has hosted Wassail Weekend, a pre-Christmas festival that is rooted in 19th century Norse culture and traditions. While the city itself is a sight to see during the holiday season, Wassail Weekend brings a distinctive parade of more than 50 horses and riders adorned in holiday costumes and period dress, as well as wagon and sleigh rides, a wassail feast and tours of the city's most notable historic buildings ... It's everything you imagine Christmas to be, but so much more. -Time Magazine

He was, perhaps, a bit of a Scrooge about it.

Kate McNally

Lotus Wight, Pete Sutherland and Sheesham Crow of The Christmas Revels recently joined Kate to perform live in NHPR's studios.

Rebecca Lavoie

It’s kind of the season for objects and artifacts of sentimental value. Consider the Christmas ornament: we trundle them out every year and unpack our memories. Whether it’s the tacky bulb from your childhood Christmas tree, your grandmother’s crèche or your child’s first handmade snowflake, we’d like to see yours. Post a picture--and even a story--of your most treasured holiday ornament on our Facebook page, wordofmouthradio, or tweet it to us @wordofmouth. You can also email your photos to our producers!

Saturday night it was the third annual Christmas in Bethlehem celebration in the North Country.

NHPR’s Chris Jensen sent this postcard:

courtesy Dartmouth College

Some Christmas traditions – like trees, and ornaments and carols – seem to be as popular as ever. Others, like the annual Christmas card, aren’t faring quite as well. Last week a columnist for TIME Magazine asked whether Christmas cards are obsolete in the social media era.

Sean Hurley, NHPR

When reporter Sean Hurley heard that one of his neighbors was giving away Christmas trees, he wanted to find out more about this local charity. And what he found was that this man's very public act, letting people wander over his property to pick out and cut down one of the Christmas Trees, was also very private. This story won Second Place in the 2007 Best Feature category from the New Hampshire Associated Press Broadcasters Association.

Tim Barry
Amanda Loder / NHPR

With Christmas a week away, shoppers are crowding into malls, outlets, and downtown shopping districts looking for last-minute gifts.  But, for those looking for unusual handmade gifts, there’s another, unorthodox, option available.

Is Die Hard A Christmas Movie?

Dec 15, 2012

What doesn't say Christmas like a terrorist plot foiled by Bruce Willis? - Author Kevin Flynn, Die Hard die-hard

To many, any best-of action film list would ring hollow with the exclusion of Die Hard - but each year, as the holiday season approaches, it begins to fly under a different flag:  an admittedly less warm, less traditional Christmas classic.

Word of Mouth 12.15.2012

Dec 14, 2012
Leo Reynolds via Flickr Creative Commons

An anthropologist embeds herself with hackers. Santa opens shop in Hooksett. A Hobbit scholar explains why Tolkien fascinates. Women comedians find success on through podcasts. And the very interesting history...of boredom.

Word of Mouth 12.15.2012

Dec 14, 2012
Leo Reynolds via Flickr Creative Commons

An anthropologist embeds herself with hackers. Santa opens shop in Hooksett. A Hobbit scholar explains why Tolkien fascinates. Women comedians find success on through podcasts. And the very interesting history...of boredom.

Part 1:

Kids Don't Cry at This Santa's Workshop

Dec 13, 2012
Adam McCune

Been to the mall lately? If so, you’ve probably seen a long line of nervous kids waiting a turn to sit on Santa’s lap and give him their Christmas wish list. There’s another place in New Hampshire where kids can visit Santa Claus, though a bit off the beaten path. It’s arguably even more magical, with not a tearful tot in sight.

Word Of Mouth contributor Adam McCune bundled up his own kids to take us on this radio field trip just a wee bit south of the North Pole.

Bah Humbug! Thieves Snag Lights From Boscawen Christmas Tree - Twice

Dec 9, 2012

Thieves have stolen the lights off a small New Hampshire town's Christmas tree twice in less than a week.

Officials in Boscawen say someone stole the bottom set of lights off the town tree in the overnight hours last Monday or Tuesday just hours after firefighters had put the lights up. The tree has been a tradition in Boscawen for decades, standing by the road at a well-traveled junction.