Quote of the Day

This is totally how I rationalize my exploits while cooking:

I wasn’t eating them, I was merely checking them to see if they were not burnt. It’s a chef’s thing, dear. Miss Piggy as Emily Cratchit in The Muppet Christmas Carol

Christmas Movie Traditions

I’ve realized this year that not only do I have a list of movies that I must watch every Christmas season, I also have traditions for when I need to watch some of them.

Every year, after we put up the Christmas tree, I have to watch White Christmas. It doesn’t matter if we put the tree up before Thanksgiving or after, but there’s something special about watching that movie while basking in the lights of the Christmas tree for the first time of the season. It really puts me in a great Christmas mood!

On Thanksgiving Day night, I almost always watch Holiday Inn. I almost missed it this year, because I was so tired from all of the work that it is Thanksgiving dinner, but I managed to stay awake until the end (more or less). This seems like the perfect movie to kick off the holidays, because not only does it have a lot of Christmas scenes/music, it also has a really good Thanksgiving scene.

When I’m wrapping Christmas presents, I always watch The Muppet Christmas Carol. Actually, I usually end up watching it twice by the time I’m done with all the gifts. I have no idea why that particular tradition started, but it wouldn’t seem like present night if I didn’t have it playing in the background. I especially like all of the songs!

On baking night, the movie of choice is National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. I usually need a little humor by the time I’m done baking dozens of cookies, and dipping various treats in chocolate. So, no matter how worn out I am by the task, I know that I’ll be laughing the whole time, even while realizing that I have more in common with Clark Griswold than any other character in the movie!

On Christmas Eve, after church, after we’ve had Jesus’s birthday cake, after the children are in bed and the presents are under the tree, Ryan and I always watch the San Francisco Ballet Nutcracker while playing some version of Ticket to Ride (usually “Nordic Countries”). He’s really very nice to put up with watching it yet again, since I’ll have watched it many, many times by Christmas Eve, but it just needs to be seen at least one more time on that night.

One last Christmas movie tradition is the yearly viewing of Die Hard. This movie doesn’t need to be watched on a certain day–instead, the tradition is the annual discussion Ryan and I have about whether or not Die Hard is a Christmas movie. He insists that it is; I say that explosions aren’t very Christmasy. But even that has become something I look forward to every year, so whether or not it’s a Christmas movie isn’t even important, it’s still one of our unique family traditions!

My Favorite Christmas Movies

I discovered this Christmas that there are five Christmas movies I can watch over and over again, and never tire of. Don’t get me wrong, I have watched many, many Christmas movies this year, and liked them all, but most of them I can watch once, maybe twice a year, and have my fill. Not my top five, though–they deserve multiple viewings!

  1. White Christmas–not just my favorite Christmas movie–one of my top five favorite movies, period!
  2. San Francisco Ballet Nutcracker–not technically a movie, but still one of my very favorite things to watch at Christmas.
  3. Elf–just so very, very funny.
  4. The Muppet Christmas Carol–I watched at least five versions of A Christmas Carol this year, and the Muppets are still, by far, my favorite. True to the original story, great music, plus…Muppets. What more can you ask for?
  5. Eloise at Christmastime–this is kind of a guilty pleasure, because it’s somewhat cheesy, and the production quality is pretty low. But for some reason, I find it absolutely charming, even if Eloise is the world’s naughtiest child!

I could probably cheat a bit, and add a TV program to my list–A Charlie Brown Christmas. I never tire of hearing Linus tell the Christmas story, and I love the music. Plus, I have to respect any animated special that doesn’t focus on (and in fact, barely mentions) Santa.

Christmas School–Day Fifteen

Today was the end of Christmas school. One last story to read, a review of the countries we learned about (and all of their varied Christmas traditions), one last project to complete, and the big finale of A Christmas Carol.

Our final Christmas story was from The Kingfisher Book of Classic Christmas Stories called “Christmas Every Day.” This was a cute story in which a child imagined what it would be like if was Christmas Day all year long. The end results of the imagining were not good, and in the end, she realized that the reason Christmas is so special is because it only comes around once a year. As much as I love Christmas, it was a good reminder that like everything, Christmas has its season.

To review our “Christmas Around the World” activities, I started by asking Turkey and Bunny what countries we had learned about. Each time they named one, I asked them how to say Merry Christmas in that country. We then decorated a sign with that saying–using lots of glitter (after all, you can’t have Christmas school without covering everything, including yourself, in copious amounts of glitter at least once!). As we glittered (Turkey and Bunny took turns going over the words I wrote out in pencil), we discussed some of the most notable Christmas traditions of that country. Although we only technically learned about four countries this year, I threw in a bonus question about England, since we’ve been reading A Christmas Carol, and we’ve gotten a pretty good idea of what a traditional English Christmas is like.

Because we did finish A Christmas Carol today, we also got to watch my favorite version of the movie–The Muppet Christmas Carol. I know, I know…the Muppets? And yet, the movie is strangely true to the book, the music is great, plus…well, it’s the Muppets! What’s not to love? I have a few other versions recorded on the DVR that I hope to get to as well, but I had to make sure we saw our favorite, as a reward for us having read the whole book!

I’m always sad when Christmas school ends. So much effort goes into the planning and implementation, starting way back in the summer when I start thinking about which resources I’m going to use, and which I’d like to get, and then the big rush in November and December of choosing crafts, planning field trips, picking which stories to read on which day, deciding which craft goes best with the stories, and figuring out how to break apart our big read-alouds. It should come as no surprise that between school and regular Christmas need-to-dos, I spend much of December completely exhausted! But it’s a good kind of exhaustion, and I wouldn’t trade making these special memories and building holiday traditions for anything!

Merry Christmas everyone!