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My Top 10 Christmas Movies

When it comes to Christmas I turn into a giant sentimental, nostalgic, emotional sapp. It’s true. It is the one time of year where I put all of my cynicism and resentment aside and embrace the joy and hope that comes in the form of a wee small baby.

I love to bake, decorate, give gifts, see lights, attend sing-a-longs and watch really cheesy holiday movies on Lifetime. Yes, I am that kind of Christmas loving freak.

When I was a kid, my favorite tradition was when, as a family, we would decorate the tree. My dad and brother were in charge of the lights and my mom and I did the cookies. We all put on ornaments and listened to Christmas tunes. I think the last time we did this together was when I was around 16. I remember being sad when the tradition stopped.

As I got older I created my own Christmas traditions with friends. We would make pilgrimages to see Christmas lights in all of the forms from the elegant and grand to the simple and modest.  LOVE IT!

So in honor of all things reverent and irreverant that I love about the Christmas holiday, here is my top 10 list of favorite Christmas (Holiday) movies, in no particular order.

1. White Christmas (1954) – Bing  Crosby, Rosemary Clooney, Danny Kaye. A fantastic score. Who could ask for anything more?

2. Scrooged (1988) – Bill Murray retelling of this classic tale in a way only he can. Love Carol Kane as the Ghost of Christmas present

3.  A Christmas Story (1983) – takes place right here in Cleveland, OH. You can even visit the house where it was filmed, but don’t shoot your eye out. Buy one of the leg lamps instead.

4. Meet in St. Louis (1944) – Judy Garland – Tales of a family

5. The Shop Around the Corner(1940) – Jimmy Stewart, Margaret Sullivan. The basis for You’ve Got Mail.

6. Love Actually (2003) – Hugh Grant, Liam Neeson, Kiera Knightly, Emma Thompson.

7. The Bishop’s Wife (1947) – Nothing says holidays like a guardian angel named Cary Grant.

8. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989) – Chevy Chase, Classic Griswold story of Christmas gone awry. Love it!

9. Miracle on 34th Street (1947) and (1994) both versions are great!

10. Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964) – the original. It’s a holiday institution.

What’s on your list?


Cheesy Holiday Movies

Let the holiday’s begin.

For some its about cooking. For others its shopping. For me it’s the marathon of cheesy, holiday movies on Lifetime. Last weekend it was “The Christmas Child,” “Road to Christmas” and “Finding John Christmas.” Families are reunited, impossible love is realized, angels are everywhere and miracles are commonplace. What’s not to love?

Tonight Janine, Tina and I are basking in the seasonal cheer of “Recipe of a Perfect Christmas.” A lonely food critic falls in love with the guy she set up with her mother. Will she get the guy in the end? Will her relationship with her mother ever be the same? Will she stay lonely?

Aaahhh the glory is that we know how they all end – happily ever after. All is right with the world once again. For once predictible is welcome and delicious.

Believing in Santa

I really missed Mikey and Jordy today.

I talked to them yesterday and Mikey thanked me in advance for my present via mail. He doesn’t believe in Santa anymore so he knows that adults buy the presents. Jordy on the other hand was sure that Santa would bring him his heart’s desire.

I wish I had that kind of faith. I instead rely on myself, become a control freak and end up disappointed.

But beyond that, what is my heart’s true desire. Do I even know anymore? I thought I did for a while but I’m beginning to doubt, maybe that’s the beginning of true faith? Letting go of my plan and embracing something bigger with total confidence, like Jordy.

Nothing like faith lessons from a 4 year old.

Christmas Quiz

It’s Christmastime, but do you really know what “figgy pudding” is, or why we hang stockings? Test your Christmas trivia knowledge with the following quiz we got at work today.

After the American Revolution, English customs fell out of favor, including Christmas. In fact, Congress was in session on Dec. 25, 1789, the first Christmas under America’s new constitution.
1. What year was Christmas declared a federal holiday in the U.S.?

Decorating evergreen trees had always been a part of the German winter solstice tradition. The first “Christmas trees,” explicitly decorated and named after the Christian holiday, appeared in Strasbourg in the beginning of the 17th century.
2. The Christmas tree tradition was introduced to England after what German prince married a British royal?

In 1828, an American diplomat, Joel R. Poinsett, brought a foreign, red-and-green plant to America. As its coloring seemed perfect for the new Christmas holiday, the plants, called poinsettias after Poinsett, began appearing in greenhouses as early as 1830. In 1870, New York stores began to sell them at Christmas. By 1900, they were a universal symbol of the holiday.
3. Joel R. Poinsett was American minister to what country?

One popular English dish, dating back to the Middle Ages, is prepared by combining suet, flour, sugar, raisins, nuts, and spices loosely in a cloth and boiling it until the contents have enlarged enough to fill the cloth. It is then unwrapped, sliced like cake, and topped with cream.
4. What is the name of this unique holiday dish?

5. What 13th century saint created the first living nativity to help explain the birth of Jesus to his followers? In the U.S. and England, children hang stockings on their bedpost or near a fireplace on Christmas Eve, hoping that it will be filled with treats while they sleep. This tradition can be traced to legends about Saint Nicholas. One legend tells of three poor sisters who could not marry because they had no money for a dowry. To save them from spinsterhood, St. Nick rode by their house one night on his horse and tossed a gold coin down the chimney for each of the sisters. One coin landed in a pair of shoes that had been left on the hearth, and another went into a pair of stockings left hanging by the fire to dry.
6. In what part of the world do children leave their shoes on the hearth, also hoping that “Saint Nicholas” will make a visit to their home on Christmas Eve?

In France, Christmas is called Noel, from the French phrase “les bonnes nouvelles,” which means “the good news.” Italians also refer to the gospel with their word for Christmas.
7. What does Il Natale mean?

Rockefeller Center in New York has displayed a Christmas tree every year for almost 75 years. The tallest tree came in 1948 and was a 100-foot tall Norway spruce, and the trees placed in recent years have been decorated with more than 25,000 lights.
8. What group of men placed the first tree at Rockefeller Center in 1931?

9. You may not know that “Good King Wenceslas” was actually a Duke of Bohemia who lived in the 10th century, but do you know the meaning of the city featured in “O Little Town of Bethlehem?”

Much of his history is unconfirmed, but it is believed the man who became St. Nicholas lived in the 4th century and was a bishop in Asia Minor. Some countries consider him the patron saint of children, sailors, and the poor. St. Nicholas took on the persona of Santa Claus in the U.S., from the Dutch settlers’ Sinter Klaas.
10. Santa Claus generally was depicted as an elf until 1931, when what company’s ads portrayed him as human-sized?

Did you know that Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was almost a “Reginald?” Created in 1939 by Robert L. May, a copywriter for Montgomery Ward department stores, the story went on to become a nine-minute cartoon, a 1964 television special narrated by Burl Ives, and the second best-selling song of all time.
11. What is the only song to sell more copies than “Rudolph,” and who famously recorded that best-selling song?

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Christmas Traditions

Hard to believe its already December 2nd. My mind is consumed with finishing my degree (one assignment down, two to go) that it kind of snuck up on me. I was sent into reflection by Erika’s story on advent.

Since we went to visit my family for thanksgiving we are going to spend Christmas here in California with Brian’s family. Their tradition is to spend the night at his sister’s house and have an early breakfast and present time.

At our house we’d usually go to a Christmas Eve service somewhere and then open one present. We’d wake up Christmas morning, have a big breakfast then my dad would read the Christmas story from Luke and we’d pray as a family. Then each person would get their turn in the spotlight to open their presents, starting with the youngest.

Other favorite times at our house was when we decorated. My mom and I would make cookies as my dad and brother would assemble our artificial tree. There would be Christmas music playing as we decorated the house. That is as Normal Rockwell as we got.

I’m trying to think what Brian and I can do to start our own Christmas traditions. I guess sometimes you just stumble on them or it happens in a flash. But I love tradition and think it creates an amazing framework to build memories. I’m also an addict for warm-n-fuzzy.