Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

May you and yours have a wonderful Christmas Day and joy of the season through out the year.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Day before Christmas

Twas the day before Christmas and all through the house, decorations were flying around.

This is a family tradition about 5 years old. The crazy pace of everything else between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I find having the tree up early on to be a stumbling block. Since I wasn't ready for Christmas 5 years ago, I didn't finally get the tree put up until the morning of Christmas Eve while the kids napped. That afternoon we spent time putting up the ornaments and other tree decorations. It was such fun and they "helped" since then we put the tree up on Christmas Eve. This is also easy to do since my pine allergy keeps the real trees in other homes.

I just realized that I left out one of my absolutely favorite Christmas episodes...from M*A*S*H.

Daddy started me watching MASH years ago. Of the many Christmas episodes, my absolute favorite is "Death Takes a Holiday." I don't love it for the main story line, trying to keep a head injury case alive so his family doesn't live with his death on Christmas. The side line of Charles, the fancy chocolates, and the gift that is to remain anonymous.

Giving to those in need is something we are trying to instill in the kids. Their school helps with this through out the year. Every class has service projects for those in our community and others around the world.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

2 days til Christmas

Returning to television series Christmas episodes, I bring you to the West Wing. This show is one the DH and I still watch either on Bravo or DVD. I enjoy both the writing and acting of many characters.

Of the seven seasons, "In Excelsis Deo" from the first season is the most poignant for me. Sneaking out to shop for rare books and the recognition that a homeless vet deserves the honor of a military burial are both good in my book. Toby's use of his presidental connections for this honor, although not approved, is appropriate!

Well tomorrow brings the last entry before Christmas. The contest is still open though. Leave any comment before January 6th to be e
ntered into the random number contest.

Monday, December 22, 2008

3 days til Christmas

Another special episode comes from Walton's mountain..."The Children's Carol." World War II comes to Walton's mountain through the visit of two children from London. Escaping the bombing of London, these children present many challenges for all the Waltons, especially Olivia. Most of all I love Jason's hymn for the children.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

4 days til Christmas

Ever a traditionalist, I love watching The Nutcracker each year. For so many years, I hunted out the movie production with sets and costumes by Maurice Sendak. This is the standard by which I watch any other production. This year I found one to match, the San Francisco Ballet has re-staged the Nutcracker in 1915 during the Panama Pacific International Exposition. This was just a wonderful piece for Great Performances to air this holiday season.

5 days til Christmas

Emmet Otter's Jug Band Christmas brings the muppets to my Christmas program list. Once again it's the animals that make this piece. The classic puppetry of Jim Henson's group gives such a connection for me and all the years watching Sesame Street and the Muppet Show.

This story also gives the ever pertinent moral that those around us are more important that any of the things we want. For kids this gives kids today a more direct connection to caring for one another then the O Henry story, The Gift of the Magi.

6 days til Christmas

Returning to the Rankin-Bass productions, A Year Without a Santa Claus is so goofy that I love it. Heat Miser and Snow Miser remind me of kids who never grow up and always compete for top spot. This show also includes one great name - Ignatius Thistlewhite.

This years addition to of A Miser Brothers' Christmas is not bad and I do enjoy the additions of North Wind and other weather "children" of Mother Nature.

7 days til Christmas

Although not a total favorite for me - the kids love watching The Toy That Saved Christmas. Veggie Tales are so popular in my house its almost a mental health issue for the parents. When MM was little she would ask for this video all year long so I either wanted the tape to break or the VCR to quit. Now this and the other holiday specific videos are only out for the holiday season so the adults in the house aren't driven totally loony.

8 days til Christmas

What season would be complete with out watching Miracle on 34th Street at least once. While I love the classic edition with Macy's, Natalie Wood, and Edmund Gwenn. Mr Gwenn is the real Santa Claus in my book.

For the kids, it's the new edition of Miracle on 34th Street, with a Santa who can sign and Cole's department store. This is a good remake, but I'll always prefer the original.

9 days till Christmas

Back to wonderful period of black and white films, I continued my movie times today with The Bell's of Saint Mary's. I'm sure many would disagree with my addition here, but this movie includes one of the sweetest Christmas pageant scenes. Every school should have a first grade class intent on delivering their own telling of the Christmas story. Also the challenge of doing any thing with children is having a "baby Jesus" who can escape from the manger.

10 days til Christmas

Another good black and white film which introduced the world to Irving Berlin's White Christmas is Holiday Inn. I love the big dance numbers with Fred Astaire and then a lovely crooned as only Bing Crosby delivered it. I enjoy black and white films for all the subtly of color value.

White Christmas is a favorite song of the season. No matter who else sings the song, I always hear Bing Crosby's voice in my head.

11 days til Christmas

Today began my full serving of old, classic movies with holiday themes or good holiday scenes. I started with Mr. Cary Grant in The Bishop's Wife.

Dudley the dashing angel assisting in answering the prayers of so many brings smiles without any effort. My favorite scene is the ice skating in the park with Mrs. Broughman is wonderful to watch. For me ice skating typically involves more time with my hands and butt on the ice then my feet, but I do love to watch.

DH watched most of the movie with me and I only hope he saw the real role of Dudley. Dudley tries to show everyone what is really important in life, not work or the physical things we leave behind, but the family we hold important.

12 days til Christmas

Okay so this isn't actually the 12th day before Christmas. I didn't realize the time commitment to posting daily. Trying to do this during the holiday season was a bit crazy on my part.

So tonight I'll play catchup on the missing posts.

Jack Frost, another Rankin-Bass submission, goes beyond the Christmas time. Actually with Pardon Me Pete telling us about the adventures of Jack Snip in January Junction, it isn't really a Christmas program. Since the programmers for tv stations consider any program specially designated for kids and not airing on Saturday mornings must be set to a specific holiday.

Anyway, I love the characters who give us all the joys and fun of winter. The Sleet Sisters, Snip the snowflake maker, Holly the Christmas Snow Fairy, and Father Christmas. Now if they would just visit the Philadelphia area - I'm ready for some real winter weather.

Friday, December 12, 2008

13 days til Christmas

Back to the reason for the season, brought to you by Rankin-Bass, is Nestor, the Long-eared Christmas Donkey. I love the general nature of this story, a donkey lost to the world in which he lives. But even those seen as imperfect by the world around them have a unique gift to share.

Also Tilly is just sweet as the cherub sent to guide and comfort Nestor.

Back in high school, I wrote a Christmas story from the point of view of the donkey. Damac and the Christmas baby was a good piece for me. I also used it for the kid's Christmas program at church one year. Animals always have a special place in Christmas.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

14 days til Christmas

My favorite little imp girl is Eloise. Eloise at Christmastime is a wonderful romp, seeing the world of those with means enjoy the holidays in New York. For all her tricks and plotting, Eloise has a truly generous heart.

MM especially enjoys this, but I think it may be giving her too many ideas of crazy romps and other things to do. At least so far a turtle hasn't landed on the pet wish list - but the pug has.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

15 days til Christmas

Now many will disagree with me on this "Christmas" movie - but I love Lion in Winter. No it isn't the warm, friendly, and uplifting movie. The entire movie does take place during Eleanor's visit with Henry II, the "boys," and Alyce during Christmas.

Thankfully, my family doesn't have the malevolence and distrust of this royal brood, but I can identify with Eleanor's statement. "Henry, I have a confession. I don't much like our children." I've never found this insulting about family life, but a real statement. Regularly I say that I wouldn't make a good teacher or stay at home mom because sometimes even don't like my children.

This year, I'll be off a couple of days before the kids are out of school so I'll have my time
with the Plantagenets. Then I'll be able to enjoy the holiday time with my kids with all my love, even if I don't like them at a time or two.

Back Tack swap

I'm late in getting my package off to my swap partner. Some how I lost at least a week in November and I have no idea when or where it went.

The back tack swap this round is based on the three gifts of Christmas - gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

A local alternative book shop, Garland of Letters, has a most wonderful selection of oils, incense, and many other neat things. There I picked up both Frankincense and Myrrh. Some how the major color for this round was blue and gold/silver. The gold for this package came in a necklace I made for Liz.

This was fun to do, but I think I enjoy the secret swaps better. There is a HUGE amount of fun for me to plan a package for someone as a surprise.

Here's a few poor photos as my camera is being cranky and not working well tonight. DH's camera which behaves much better is out with him.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

16 days til Christmas

Another Rankin-Bass offering today - Little Drummer Boy. I loved this song as a child and the show gives such a tender depiction of the reason for the season. The loss of his parents gives Aaron a lot to resent in the world, but the love he sees in the manager gives him a new view of his world.

Every child should be give the love and tenderness to support their dreams. The best gift for anyone is a gift given from the heart and received without any judgment. May all of your Christmas be joyfully given and received.

Monday, December 8, 2008

17 days til Christmas

A more recent fun watch for me is the Santa Clause. Tim Allen is fun as the improbable replacement for the jolly elf. This movie continues the magic that anyone can find the spirit of Christmas.

For someone who didn't enjoy Home Improvement, Tim Allen entertains as the "Santa" effects take over his life. Milk and cookies, cocoa, and all the other treats will always hit the spot on a cold, holiday night.

18 days til Christmas

Sorry this is late, unplanned travel and limited Internet left me hanging. So tonight I give you two offerings.

So anyone else enjoy the Desk Set. Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy in one of their best pairings in my book. This movie not only is great when it comes being a holiday film, but the librarian in me loves it too.

I don't know of a library without a trailing plant growing in someone's office. The staff can all answer any question, but each has a niche topic. And the introduction of new technology continues today.

Remember if you post a comment during my totally biased listing of the best holiday programs and movies, you'll be entered in a drawing for something fun after January 7th.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

19 days til Christmas

How the Grinch Stole Christmas gives the incomparable Dr. Seuss' voice to Christmas. For me though only the animated show with Boris Karloff's narration and Chuck Jones' animation makes the cut.

I know for many it's the Grinch's change of heart, or the sweetness of Cindy Lou Who that make the book and show. Not me, I love Max. This dog is wonderful. From model to reindeer to triumphant sleigh dog - he's in it all the way.

Friday, December 5, 2008

20 days til Christmas

The program serving for today is one that I first loved as a book and now treasure the film, The Polar Express.

I love Chris Van Allsburg's story about the magic of Christmas and the special treasure for children who believe. When I heard about the computer animation process, I wasn't sure the subtleness of the illustrations would be achieved. On one level I think the whole movie works beautifully. I still think hand illustrations show best with hand animation.

Now my children find The Polar Express on the holiday movie shelf and watch it many times during the holiday season. I just hope they always here the bell ring.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

21 days til Christmas

We've been watching some of the Christmas specials already. MM enjoys so many of them, but she thinks Rudolph is getting short changed. The Santa Clause, Mrs. Santa Claus and others don't include Rudolph, so today's pick is Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, another Rankin-Bass offering.

This is a fun watch. My favorite character is the Bumble - he bounces! This also includes one of my favorite songs, "Silver & Gold." Burl Ives gives a warm and cuddly persona as Sam the Snowman.

For my friend Bridget, this is the ultimate Christmas show. Over the last several years, I've tried to add a little piece of Rudolph to her package.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

22 days til Christmas

Tonight I bring you the first of the many Rankin-Bass specials. The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus brings the L. Frank Baum story of fairies and a magical world that gives to the human world the immortal Santa Claus.

According to this was the last of the Rankin-Bass shows using Animagic. The puppetry of these shows brings me enjoyment and are now some of my kids favorite programs through the season.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

23 days till Christmas

Charles Schultz captured a simpler time of life in the Peanuts strip. Yet the world of Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus, and Snoopy isn't simple or childish.

A Charlie Brown Christmas is just a relevant today as in was back in 1965. This year's exceedingly early launch for the Christmas shopping season fits Lucy's need for more stuff and Snoopy's overdone decorating.

Linus' recitation of the shepherd and angel portion of Luke returns the kids to the focus of Christmas then and reminds us all today.

May you find the simple joy of Christmas in your traditions this year.

Monday, December 1, 2008

24 days 'til Christmas

Many stations decided before Thanksgiving to start with the pre-Christmas movie marathons. As I've noted before, for me that is just WRONG.

Now it's December 1st and I'm going to try posting each day with a bit about one of my many favorite Christmas programs and movies.

I watch White Christmas nearly every time I find it in the program listing. I enjoy the music and dancing, especially Rosemarie Clooney. My favorite songs are "Sister, Sisters" and "Count Your Blessings."

We found the announcement for White Christmas on Broadway after our tickets for the Radio City Christmas Spectacular were purchased. Next year we'll have to look into this "new" theater option sooner.

And now, here's a holiday surprise for you. Post a comment between December 1st and January 6th about your favorite Christmas program, movie, or even song. Come January 7th, I'll select a random comment and have a post holiday surprise even.

Now let the holidays run away!