Christmas, in my house, always includes some time with the Queen. Her annual Christmas message is a masterpiece of the most comforting clichés, a sweet homily on the gift of the season, family, joy and the meaning of community. You can pretty much write it yourself: Christmas is a time for family and reflection… blah blah blah. But those plumy tones, that shock of silver hair, the festive red dress and the strangely somber mood—yule-funereal—can’t be beat. I love in particular how she lets us know that Jesus was neither a general nor a philosopher, and then takes care to let the generals and philosophers know that she isn’t criticizing their particular lines of employment. The empire (sorry, the Commonwealth) will always need its generals and philosophers, and the Queen is never one to offend anyone. I think she really hit out of the park this year.