Oh the Holidays!
There’s so much work to do- shopping, baking, selling handmade stuffed animals on Etsy (https://www.etsy.com/shop/NARlyGifts) #ShamlessPlug #CouponCodeBelow…
Don’t forget the cards!
I love to send out holiday cards; the week after Christmas, I am first in line at Hallmark, buying up their 75%-off boxes of cards to prepare for next year. I really love getting mail myself, so I hope that others love it too (really, who doesn’t?).
In fact, I love cards so much, that for the last few years, I have hired myself out to my mother’s place of employment to be their official holiday card stuffer.
It’s made me not like cards just a teeny, tiny bit.
There are 1,050 cards to stuff n’stick (as in stuff the envelope; then stick the stamp, the address label, the return address label, and the self sealing sticker-thingy) this year. That’s a lot, in case you didn’t realize.
The whole process is so boring.
Like, really, really, boring. They are pre-printed with a lovely and heart-felt message; there’s no “Hi friend, how have you been?” for me to fill in, no fun catching up to do.
Which I guess is good, because if I had to write 1,050 personal messages my arm might fall off.
I have a system down that I’ve honed through the years, and it doesn’t take quite as long as it used to. My brain kind of turns to mush and goes on auto-pilot and I turn into a card-stuff-n’-stick machine.
Know what makes doing this job 10x more fun?
Binge watching Christmas movies while doing so!
No matter what, I always watch Bridget Jones’s Diary first. It’s not a “traditional” holiday movie, but for whatever reason, watching dear Bridget totally embarrass herself in front of Mark Darcy (Colin Firth! Who should just do everyone a favor and change his name to Mr. Darcy already!) at her mother’s annual Turkey-Curry buffet marks the true start to my personal holiday season. Also, it has the greatest soundtrack ever.
No surprise, I quickly follow that up with the sequel, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, which is decidedly less Christmas-y, yet still fun. Chances are, I will then Google updates on the never-going-to-actually-happen-third installment while on my lunch break.
Whatever happened to Winona Ryder? I was her biggest fan in the late-90s/early 2000s. I tried desperately to talk my mom into getting me a Free-Winona t-shirt post-shoplifting scandal, but for some reason, she thought it was inappropriate to wear on casual-dress day at my Catholic elementary school. Sigh. I still want one.
My favorite Winona Ryder movie has to be Little Women. This 1994 classic also stars Susan Sarandon, Christian Bale (so pretty!), Kirsten Dunst (so little!), and Claire Danes, with special appearance by my forever-crush Gabriel Bryne. (Don’t laugh. I have a list of what I call my “old man crushes”- and he fights neck and neck for top billing with Alan Rickman.) I’m pretty sure I can relate my wanting to be a writer back to this movie- I wanted to be Jo March. Really, I wanted to be Winona Ryder being Jo March, but still. This movie has everything: independent womanhood, sisterhood, writers in boarding houses, Civil War heroism, sickness and horribly sad death, Quakers and Transcendentalism. Also, the greatest movie-way of telling a girl you like her, ever:
Your heart understood mine. In the depth of the fragrant night, I listened with ravished soul to your beloved voice. Your heart understood mine.
Which they borrowed from the Opera, “Les pêcheurs de perles.” As a side note, it’s always a great date if you take a girl to the opera and you get to sit in the stage wings. No one will care that your hands are empty when your heart is so full of awesomeness, Professor Friedrich.
Ok, on to the actual traditional, recognizable Christmas movies.
The Clay-mation masterpieces of the 1960s!
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Rudolph’s Shiny New Year, The Year Without a Santa Claus, and Santa Claus is Coming to Town are only the greatest creations ever. If you have not seen them, please, do yourself a favor and Netflix these guys NOW.
So much tongue-in-cheek dialogue! So much Andy Rooney as Santa! Why can’t Sam the Snowman (Burl Ives) and/or Fred Astaire as a postman narrate every Christmas movie?
My mom loves Nicholas Cage. I think he is underrated as an actor (love me some National Treasure movies!) and should really re-think his PR strategy. Case in point: The Family Man, a truly great holiday movie that’s a sort of backwards It’s a Wonderful Life (which we’ll get to-hang in there!). Instead of being removed from his life a la Jimmy Stewart, Nicholas Cage is put-into a life- the life he would have had if he had chosen love instead of money and power. Tea Leoni (another underrated actor alert!) plays his new-life wife, and Jeremy Piven is his best friend. Don Cheadle is his guardian angel. It’s fantastic. Trust me.
It’s a Wonderful Life is considered the quintessential Christmas movie. I’m going to go ahead and break some hearts here when I tell you it’s really not my favorite.
(*Pause for audible gasps from the audience*).
I’ve seen it a zillion times, and there’s just something about it that makes me go “Eh…” instead of “Awww!!” like the rest of the masses (if I am to believe basic cable and the Big 3 Networks who play it on repeat…). I just don’t understand why it takes George Bailey 130 minutes to figure out the meaning of life when it takes Rudolph a mere 47. Learn to keep it simple, George.
Know what my favorite holiday movie is though? A Christmas Story. I don’t know if I can put into words my love for this movie. It’s insanely quotable (“I double dog dare you!” “Frag-il-leee. Must be Italian”), really funny in an understated way, and makes me think of my cousins and Thanksgiving so, you know, warm fuzzies all around.
Finally (because there are so many holiday movies I could keep this post going for forever, but I won’t because I’m sure you’ve got other stuff to do today…), you can’t make a Christmas movie list (and check it twice!) without Elf. Buddy the Elf loves coloring, marshmallows and hugs, and so do I. He’s a good note to end on!
~The Santa Clause (with Tim Allen!)
~The Santa Clause sequels (which aren’t great, but they tried really hard and had all the original cast members so that counts for something, right?)
~Miracle on 34th Street (the baby-Natalie Wood version from 1947)
~The Holiday (Kate Winslet, Cameron Diaz, Jude Law, and…Jack Black? It works though, really)
~White Christmas (musical!)
~I’ll Be Home For Christmas (Jonathan Taylor Thomas- I’m sorry, but I am a true 90s kid).
Last bit of shameless plug-ary: Use coupon code XMAS10 to get 10% off in my etsy shop now through Thursday 12/11: https://www.etsy.com/shop/NARlyGifts