Making Merry

As Andy Williams says (or sings, rather), “It’s the Most Wonder-ful Time of the Year!”  Yes, others have sang that song, but in my book, Andy Williams sings it the best.  It really is “the hap- happiest season of all.”  The music, the movies, the lights…..I just can’t get enough.  As believers, we celebrate the true meaning of Christmas, the birth of Jesus, our savior.  All of the other festivities and frivolities are just a bonus.  My early Christmas gift to you is to help you get into the Christmas spirit!  Here are a list of my favorite Christmas songs and movies and that will surely deliver.

My Dad always said I was born in the wrong era because I love old music and movies (not to mention the glamorous clothes!).  My favorite Christmas music is the music that my parents grew up with.  It’s not Christmas without Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra.  They’re a must!  Nat King Cole is a favorite as well.  Listening to Nat sing “Oh Come All Ye Faithful” definitely puts you in the Christmas mood, as does Frank Sinatra’s “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.” Perry Como’s “There’s No Place Like Home For the Holidays,” is one of the first Christmas songs I listen to during the holidays.  Burl Ives (Sam the snowman from Rudolph) reminds me of my childhood Christmases.  Last year Megan bought a Percy Faith CD and it was amazing, so our Mom and I bought one.  The song “We Three Kings” is our favorite…..it will give you chills.  Our Mom used to listen to Kenny and Dolly’s Christmas album, which makes me nostalgic too.   I could go on and on about my favorite Christmas songs, but I think you get the picture.  On my phone I have the app for iheart radio and I listen to the Christmas Classics station.  That way I can listen to Christmas music at the barn or anywhere.

As far as movies, let me just say that I love them and Christmas movies are the best.  Most of us watched Christmas specials on TV as children.  We looked forward to them every year and got so excited that we didn’t think we could make it to Christmas.  As a kid, I remember hearing adults say that “time flies by.”  I thought they were lying.  The month of December dragged by!  Watching those specials transports me back to those magical Christmases of my youth.  At 43, I watch them every year and love them!  I love any holiday special by Rankin Bass:  “Rudolph” and “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” for example.  “The Cricket on the Hearth” is great too.  One of my favorites as a kid was “Twas the Night Before Christmas,” which always followed “The Grinch” on TV.  But who could forget “A Charlie Brown Christmas?”  Another great cartoon is “A Flintstones Christmas Carol.”  Now that I’ve totally admitted how juvenile I really am, let me suggest a few more:  “Little House on the Prairie: A Merry Ingalls Christmas,” and the first Brady Bunch episode entitled “The Voice of Christmas,’ which first aired on December 19, 1969.  Manon and I have to watch that every year!

There are several classic Christmas movies that make my “season bright.”  The original “Miracle on 34th Street” and “White Christmas” are so heartwarming.  I also love the 1951 version of “A Christmas Carol” starring Alastair Sim as Scrooge.   My favorite Christmas movie of all is “It’s a Wonderful Life .”  It’s so entertaining and has many good lessons in it.  I love the part where Clarence (the angel) tells George, “Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives, and when he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?”  But my favorite part of the movie is at the end when Harry says, “A toast….to my big brother.  The richest man in town!”   That makes me cry every time.  Harry wasn’t speaking monetarily of course, but rich with the love of family and friends.


If you’re stressed and need some comic relief, watch “Christmas With the Kranks” and “Christmas Vacation.”  “Christmas Vacation” is full of quotes that our sister Kendal and I like to interject into conversations.  I think we’re the only ones who think it’s clever and funny.  For more adult humor, watch “Love Actually” and “Four Christmases.”   I just watched “A Madea Christmas” for the first time and I laughed my head off.  Ah…..so many movies, so little time.


Christmas is such a magical, special time and it passes too quickly.  Despite the stresses that the holiday brings (decorating, cooking, shopping, wrapping, entertaining, cleaning….), it is the perfect time to reflect upon our blessings.  Being a Christmas-crazy person, I’m always a little sad on December 26th.  But the true gift of Christmas, Jesus, is forever.  He isn’t limited to one day or season.  He will be with us forever, if only we let Him into our hearts.  Whatever your traditions, how ever you celebrate, may you and yours have a blessed Christmas season.

“Hark! the herald angels sing/ Glory to the newborn King

Peace on earth and mercy mild/ God and sinners reconciled!”

God Bless,

Mardi

 

 

 

Halloween Movies to Get You into the Spirit

I’m in my room, burning a spiced pumpkin candle, and watching Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds.”  Life just doesn’t get much better.  Megan and I absolutely love fall, and with Halloween fast approaching, there are certain rituals that must be adhered to.   My favorite fall ritual, besides baking apple crisp, pumpkin pie, etc., is watching Halloween movies.  Maybe it goes back to my childhood and watching “It’s the Great Pumpkin” when it aired on TV.  It was a special night I looked forward to every year.  I’ve always loved The Peanuts, and still do.  It brings back the warm fuzzies I felt when watching those CBS specials as a child.  So now I own “It’s the Great Pumpkin” on DVD and watch it every year.  I watch it by myself (does that sound pathetic?) but I like to have my nieces over to watch it too.  They are good about humoring me!

It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown

I remember watching “The Birds” as a kid at our old house.  It was a Saturday afternoon in the fall and I just came across it on TV.  I was in our “hobby room,” which was like a little family room.  It had dark paneling and orange plaid carpet, and it was my favorite room in the house.  Hey, it was built in the 70’s!  Anyway, I watched “The Birds” and got really creeped out.  I didn’t see it again until I bought the DVD a few years ago to show my kids.  I told them how scary it was, how I remembered it.  We brought the movie to my friend Jennifer’s house and our families watched it together (after we dressed up like zombies and played zombie tag).  My kids teased me about how NOT scary it was and Sander said “well, that’s two hours of my life I’ll never get back,” after watching it.  Sander at 12…..now that’s scary.  I just noticed this year that “The Birds” is based on a book written by Daphne Du Maurier.   She also wrote My Cousin Rachel, which I just read this summer.

Alfred Hitchock's The Birds

Another must-see Halloween movie is Disney’s “The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad.”  I remember watching it as a kid, but Kendal for years has put the movie on for the kids after trick-or-treating.  “Hocus Pocus” is a favorite too….it will get you into the Halloween spirit.  My girls grew up watching the “Halloweentown” movies on Disney channel and Manon says it’s not Halloween until she’s watched it.  Movies like these are a fun part of childhood, or in my case, adulthood!

The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad

My daughter Marek loves Tyler Perry’s Madea movies, so last year we saw “Boo!  A Madea Halloween” at the theater.  It was hysterically funny.  The sequel comes out in a few days and we can’t wait to see it.  So whatever your fall and Halloween traditions, make sure you include a few movie nights.  Pop popcorn, make treats, light a candle, invite friends over, and watch a Halloween movie.  Or if you’re like me and your kids won’t watch them with you, watch them alone or invite your nieces over.  Enjoy the season because Thanksgiving and Christmas are just around the corner!

Mardi

What’s your favorite Halloween movie?