Christmas traditions have a way of sneaking up on you. One minute you’re trying to roast a turkey exactly the way grandma used to make it, the next thing you know, the oven breaks down and spaghetti becomes the Christmas Eve tradition. Many of my favorite traditions started completely by accident, and some of my most treasured Christmas memories can never be repeated. They were as unique as a snowflake, living forever fresh in my heart. The heart knows exactly how to protect and embrace a memory so that the joy may live on and on.
Then there are the memories of holiday catastrophes that grow funnier as each year passes; the fully decorated tree that fell on top of me, the year we learned not to put a truck size inner tube for sledding into a warm car ( my ears still recall the explosion!) , mixing up the tags on gifts ( no two year old wants a blender), my mother mistakenly serving the Plum Pudding as fruitcake and vice versa.
Christmas movies have become a very important part of my holiday traditions list. I eagerly anticipate the arrival of long winter nights, the colder weather nudges me into the welcoming warmth of flannel pj’s and knit slippers soon after dinner. Sure, there are plenty of worthwhile projects trying to get my attention, but the optimum time for indulging in Christmas movies is right now. The puzzling phenomena about my list is that, with few exceptions, the movies were all made between 1938 and 1949. I suppose this must say something deep and significant about my personality, but I’m not sure just what it is. I only know that they embody the truest and best of this season of love. I rarely manage to see every movie on my list each year, but I try!
Barbara’s Top Ten list of Favorite Christmas movies,
1938 A Christmas Carol, starring Reginald Owen as Scrooge
1940 The Shop Around the Corner, with James Stewart and Magaret Sullavan
1941 The Man Who Came to Dinner, wickedly funny!
1945 Star in the Night- a 22 minute ‘short’, my absolute most favorite!
1945 Christmas in Connecticut, with Barbara Stanwyck and Dennis Morgan
1946 It’s a Wonderful Life, James Stewart and Donna Reed
1947 The Bishop’s Wife, David Niven and Loretta Young- ah, heavenly!
1947 Miracle on 34th Street, Edmund Gwenn as the real Santa Claus
1948 Three Godfather’s, John Wayne starts out as a not-so-good guy
1949 A Holiday Affair starring Robert Mitchum and the gorgeous Janet Leigh
Skipping all the way up to 2003 is another favorite- Love, Actually, starring Hugh Grant. I do recommend keeping a box of tissues on hand for all of these movies. As soon as I begin to sniffle, Joe gives me ‘the look’, and hands me a tissue. I don’t even try to hold back the tears. The very best Christmas movies are all about reaching out to one another with love and compassion- I think that I cry because it happens all too rarely.
Last week I read a Letter to the Editor which I have since read over and over. The writer spoke clearly and without self pity about the lonely old people who often are forgotten during this season of feverish gift buying. She reminded us that not everyone has a family who will wrap them in loving arms. All she asks is that you give a lonely neighbor a card and wish them a Merry Christmas. It is such a small thing to ask. Put it on your list, at the very top. This is more important than anything else you could possibly do. Love and compassion are the gifts that cost nothing, but last forever.
Barbara Bennett Parsons, resident elf at the Hoquiam Farmers Market
1958 Riverside, Hoquiam ph. 538-9747