What is it about Christmas time? Even for a non-religious person like me, I'm incredibly sentimental and always the cheerleader of Christmas. As many of you may already know, my husband's twitter handle is @Santaisthinking ... yup, Mr. Kris Kringle himself. So, it is very fitting that I should be Mrs. Claus.
I'm actually one of those lunatic folks that could listen to Christmas music year-round (that is if anyone around me would allow it.) So instead you will find me quietly humming Christmas carols in the kitchen long after the season has ended. And the moment the fresh cut trees hit the lot (often about a week prior to Thanksgiving), I'm there as their first customer. We always decorate our tree with an Irish theme to match my Irish heritage and of course some Hallmark keepsake ornaments, too. I festoon the rest of the house in shades of silver and mercury and with trees, snow globes and a multitude of other holiday decor.
My love for this holiday comes from my mother. She loved Christmas with a passion, too. She once told me, "a Christmas tree isn't magic unless it's a real tree." Since birth, every one of my Christmas trees has been real. Times have been tight many, many times over the years. So there was a couple of my Christmas trees that were actually house plants covered in ornaments because we couldn't afford a Douglas or Fraser fir from the lot. But the Christmas spirit was still present those times- in a Charlie Brown kind of way.
Back when I was a child and when both my mother and grandmother were still alive, Christmas must have been bittersweet for my Mom. She would often fight with her mother at Christmas. My maternal grandmother was bipolar and there was something about that holiday that seemed to bring out the intensity and conflict in her. Fortunately, my mother was the poster child for child-like optimism. So despite that bitter history associated with Christmas, she always made Christmas magical for us. Christmas Eve has always been spent with my mother's side of the family and Christmas day with my father's side. On my father's side, I have fond memories of so many of us - aunts, uncles and cousins (my father has six sisters) all cramming into my grandparents' house... more than a couple dozen of us spread out all over the place. I recall coming over on Christmas days, looking forward to my knee sock stocking that always had the same treasures of an orange, some chocolate and comic books. I loved those youthful holidays where my winter break from school meant countless hours of playing board games and enjoying grandma's cooking with all my aunts, uncles and cousins. This family scheduling tradition has been held over the years without alteration because when you come from such a large Irish family, with extended family and divorces, it's really the only way to see everyone. Christmas morning is reserved for immediate family to see what goodies Santa brings.
One of the fun parts of Christmas time are the holiday movies and TV specials. There are so many favorites I look forward to enjoying, year after year. I'm a fan of so many of both the old classics and some modern ones, too. One of my fondest memories were those Bass Rankin claymation shows. My husband bought the collection years ago so we can continue to enjoy them, along with our own kids. "Charlie Brown Christmas Special", "Santa Claus is Coming To Town" and "Rudolf The Red-Nosed Reindeer" are my favorites. "The Little Drummer Boy" was always my mother's favorite.
My favorite holiday-themed movies are numerous. Of the classics, my family introduced me to the best in Christmas flicks as a child:
It's A Wonderful Life
The Bishop's Wife
The Bells of St. Mary's
Miracle on 34th Street
Christmas in Connecticut
The Thin Man
Despite my obvious affection for classic film, there have been some newer holiday-themed movies that I also enjoy (perhaps with less nostalgia):
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
Planes, Trains and Automobiles* (Thanksgiving is actually the holiday here but that's close enough for me)
Home Alone (despite the physical prank and child abandonment focus, it has some very sweet holiday moments)
All of these above films either take place during the holidays or it's a main topic. Thank you for indulging me as I share my holiday movie list and I hope you enjoy your own holiday favorites this special time of year. Remember to slow down enough from the hectic hustle and bustle to enjoy the lights, the decor, the smells, the sounds, the tastes and all the treasures of what this season means to you, spent with dear friends and family. HAPPY HOLIDAYS from my family to yours...