Sunday, December 02, 2007

Still Here

I have been feeling decidedly under the weather for the last several days. I'm sure it will pass soon and I'll be up waaaayy above the weather soon.

Despite my not-quite-100% self, we managed to accomplish many significant tasks this weekend. First and foremost, I decluttered the playroom in anticipation of many holiday additions. Three large boxes of trash, broken pieces, toys with missing pieces, cheap fast food meal toys, broken crayons, bits of chalk, old art projects: GONE. It's strange--there's actually bare carpet in there now!

We also cleaned up a bit all over and Brendan and the kids put up some new light-up snowmen and candy canes along our front walk. Cute. Morgan calls them snowma'ams.

I addressed the vast majority of my Christmas cards. I love doing Christmas cards and always did them, even before we had little cutie pie pictures to include. My favorite card I ever sent out (before the kids, of course) is this one by Edward Gorey. I learned that it was an excellent test of kindred spirits--some recipients got the joke right away and others never did. I still giggle whenever I behold its charms.

Anyway, this year, our cards feature the aforementioned cutie pies, taken at my friend's house on Thanksgiving, fortunately prior to the collar bone debacle. I am enjoying being nearly finished (just got to get stamps). I'm not quite finished, because there are the inevitable questionable addresses I need to verify because our vast extended family tends to be somewhat nomadic. This year, I will send cards to these states: GA, VA, TX, IL, IN, FL, MA, WI, MN, AZ, CA, NY, OR, PA, MT, OH and MI. Also, I'll send one to Japan to Brendan's cousin who is there for a couple of years. If I can figure out how to do that, of course. And I'd love to expand my list of states, so if you represent one of the missing ones, and would like my children's faces to brighten up your holiday season (now and forevermore), let me know!

We are really getting into the Christmas spirit around here. Yesterday, we began our LEGO City Advent Calendar, which everyone is excited about, of course! So far, we have a fireman peopleguy and a set of fireman peopleguy tools (axe, walkie talkie, and storage container). Can't wait to find out what we get next! I mentioned to the kids the other day that since it's now officially The Christmas Season, it's nice to say "Merry Christmas!" to people. You know, friendly-like. This has resulted in the children spreading the glad tidings repeatedly to the cats. Only they say "Happy Christmas!" which I suppose is an homage to our English roots. Or they've possibly been watching some British television, such as AbFab or Monty Python (my faves). Still, very sweet. The cats seem to like it.

I guess we'll start decorating in earnest this week. I hope I feel up to it! My other major holiday plans include making some Christmas cookies (closer to Christmas, though), finishing my gift purchases (63% there), watching some classic Christmas movies, such as A Charlie Brown Christmas, A Christmas Story, White Christmas, It's A Wonderful Life (yes), Frosty, Rudolph, Meet Me in St. Louis, and The Grinch about 97 more times. Oh, and I have to batten down the hatches in preparation for a grandparental visit. I believe that if we can do all of those things, we'll have a very enjoyable holiday season.


Charlie said...

It's a Wonderful Life? Really? You're gonna have to expand on that one.

You may remember that I've never actually seen that movie -- on purpose. I've seen snippets, and know of the general message, so I stayed away. And this is despite the fact that I love old B&W movies.

So... am I missing something? Or should I force myself to watch a sappy, selfless, insipid story? (funny how 'insipid' actually kind of works there, in an alliterative sense) Are there any redeeming characteristics? Have I been missing out on a wonderful movie all these years?

Rational Jenn said...

It's A Wonderful Life--one of the movies I grew up with. Plus, Jimmy Stewart, who I adore. So it definitely scores high on the sentimental charts.

No doubt in my mind that Frank Capra intended it to be a tribute to a selfless man, nobly sacrificing his wants for the good of others. Ick. Also, the evil Mr. Potter is capitalism personified. Double Ick.

But! There are redeeming qualities. First, I believe that George Bailey realizes at the end that he DOES have his highest values and did not sacrifice them for others. He had circumstances thrust upon him (death of his father, for example) and ended up making different choices because of them. But he made his choices based on emotion and without really being conscious of why, and of course being grumpy that the circumstances changed and his plans had to change along with them. It's a case of he didn't know what he had until he almost lost it. He was a man who had made the mistake of coasting through his life, letting things happen to him instead of realizing the role of his own choices in his own happiness. Finally he realizes that he does have the things he truly values (family, friends).

Also, the feeling of the film has a very Benevolent Universe sense of life. It is a testament to the value of one human life. George Bailey didn't appreciate the value of his own life and it took losing it (in a manner of speaking) to help him see that HE was important, that HE had value, and he made a conscious choice to LIVE. Of course, it's all shown in terms of the difference *other* people experienced without the presence of George, but the point is still valid--human life is valuable. Bailey realizes it, chooses life (despite what he believes to be a life in prison for something he didn't do). He finally got it.

There are a great many things wrong with the picture, and I can't explain them away, but the points above are a few of the things I walk away from it with. The scene where Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed are talking on the phone and realize their passion for each other is worth the whole film, I think (one take!).

Monica said...

Your preparations sound like mine! Christmas cookies a must, film watching a must, holiday shopping about 50% DONE. Oh but the tree is not up yet. blah.

If you want to add to your Christmas film enjoyables, you can watch A Child's Christmas in Wales, which I believe is on PBS each year (don't let that throw you off). It's my favorite Christmas film. It's poignant, nostalgic for the "good old days" and at times, hilarious. Ryan is probably old enough to enjoy it, too. I've found that kids really like this film.

It's now available on DVD from amazon for only $14, and well worth it. I just ordered my copy. I've watched this film every year with my dad (who is Welsh) since I was a kid. Highly recommended by moi, and given 5 stars by almost every reviewer on amazon to boot!

Kelly said...


I read A Child's Christmas in Wales every year. It is a wonderful piece. I do a lot of Christmas readings building up to the holiday, including that, A Christmas Carol, and Twas the Night Before Christmas. A few others I can't recall right now too. I love to read out loud a whole bunch to get me in the spirit. Need to get my tree up, and I think I will write a few Christmas letters to long lost friends this year. Want to take Livy to see Santa and wanna go to Christmas eve church (I can't help it; I NEED to sing those songs. Galt forgive me.)

Rational Jenn said...

I think we'll do the tree this weekend. I'm in no rush, really. With little kids, it's best to pace yourself for the holidays, since they have no concept of time.

Monica and Kelly, you're both absolutely right that I need to add A Child's Christmas in Wales to my list. It's been so long since I read the book and I don't think I've ever seen the movie. I know that's something Ryan would enjoy. Thanks for the suggestion!

I read 'Twas the Night Before Christmas this evening to Morgan. (Ryan was uninterested, being in the middle of some important army peopleguy maneuvers.) She was riveted. She really has no memory of Christmas, this only being her third one ever. She's very into Santa--she asked, "Is that Santa?" as we paged through the beautiful illustrations of the book. Ryan was careful to point out (evidently, eavesdropping between drills) that the REAL Santa was Mom and Dad and that was much better since they really know what the kids want anyway.

Oh! And we also watched Frosty the Snowman tonight. I'm really enjoying doing this holiday thing little by little. I know our house will be transformed by the time my parents get here and I like not having to do it all at once.

Monica said...

"Want to take Livy to see Santa and wanna go to Christmas eve church (I can't help it; I NEED to sing those songs."

haha. There was a huge fight on ObjectivismONline on this topic once, with people moralizing about others' listening to Christmas carols. blah. I play piano, and often I play hymns. The music, at least, is beautifully written. I think, for too long, religion has dominated the art form of the hymn: music that serves as an exaltation of the highest values. There are musicians that use this art form (ABBA comes to mind) that are not religious. But until some decent Christmas music comes along, I'm also quite happy to continue listening to my traditional Christmas carols. ;)