The Last Puzzle: The Last Christmas, Shadow Island Mysteries (2010)

Merry Christmas!!!

So most of you are going:

No, I’m not crazy. I know that this is October, Horrorfest VIII. But I couldn’t help it as this film takes place during Christmas.

So last December I watched a Christmas film every day up to the 25th. They were films I owned, or found on youtube, Netflix, and Amazon Prime. This one I found on Amazon Prime and enjoyed it so much, I had to add it…and as this mystery takes place on Christmas Eve, I’m posting it on the 24th.

The Last Christmas

The La Foret family is lead by their Patriarch, the wealthy tycoon, Grandfather La Foret. Every year he brings his family together: his children Stuart, Margaret, and Jean; along with Stuart’s daughter Natasha, and Jean’s kids: Ian and Claire- to his island, Shadow Island, for the holidays, in which Grandfather would create these incredibly hard puzzles to be solved at midnight.

Mystery, you say?

But one Christmas, Jean refused to play, and when the family all met up at the end of the night, they found her dead. Drowned. After that there were no more family gatherings. The family further fractured with Claire leaving to Shadow Island, her grandfather’s resort, and writing mysteries; Natasha sleeping with her Aunt Margaret’s husband; Margaret divorcing and sinking even further into her alcoholism; Ian disappearing off the face of the earth; and Grandfather retreating to France.

It has been five years, and Grandfather has decided that he wants to have another Christmas get-together. He sends invites to all those that were at the last Christmas (point for title), and makes sure all are coming.

Claire (Jennifer Finnigan) is excited to have them all come, and starts setting up the house with her friend, and resort runner, Monica. The first to arrive is an extremely drunk Aunt Margaret-who tries to abscomb with the silverware and the silver candlestick. Claire stops Aunt Margaret as she likes the candlestick, and is sad there is only one. All I could think is

Foreshadowing!

I know that candlestick will become very important later, I can feel it.

Then Ian arrives, something Monica and Claire have been very excited for. Claire and her brother used to be very close, and she is puzzled why he has been silent for the last three years. Monica used to date him and is hoping to rekindle the flame.

Then we have Stuart and Natasha, which causes lots of fights as Margaret can’t stand to see the woman who cheated with her husband.

Then Grandfather arrives with his Italian doctor, Sergio Boniti. It turns out that this will be his last Christmas (2 points for title), as he is deathly sick and won’t be on the earth much longer. He has written a new will, and the winner of this year’s Christmas puzzle gets everything.

But this year’s puzzle is going to be extremely difficult and is called the Jean La Foret puzzle, in honor of her. You know what I’m thinking-she was murdered and it will be about solving the mystery of her death!!

Hmmm…

All they need is for the person to give the Italian doctor, the answer and they win all the money. If they do not solve it-then all his money goes to charity.

The game is afoot and as they are trying to solve the mystery…

But then Grandfather dies!

What?

Sergio calls the police and an ambulance, but encourages them to solve the puzzle-as until the police and EMTs arrive anyone can win. Once he is legally pronounced dead-no one gets the money.

Hurry!

The clues come out, accidents happen, someone takes a fall, and all are being watched…Then Claire discovers that Grandfather is not dead and Sergio is not a Doctor. Grandfather hired a private detective, Sergio, to look into the death of Jean. They believe her to be murdered and one of those on the Island being the murderer.

They have installed cameras throughout the resort, all the clues lead to the murder, and they are hoping one will confess as Grandfather needs the answer before he dies-he has to know. But which one is the murderer?

Hmm…

Stuart La Foret-Uncle Stuart is in investing and was in charge of Jean’s money. Jean discovered some funny business and was planning on pulling her funds out-and bringing to light his indiscretions. Did he murder her to protect himself and keep himself from being sent to jail?

Hmm…

Margaret La Foret- She and Jean have always fought about everything and everyone. That night they fought about Margaret’s husband, among other things. Could Margaret have killed her in a drunken rage?

Hmmm

Ian La Foret-Ian has always been a troublemaker and fought with his mom. These past few years he has been in jail for armed robbery. Did he kill her because she was bossing him around, or because he needed money and she wouldn’t give it to him?

Hmm…

Natasha La Foret-Natasha has never liked her aunt or her interference, and likes nice things and money. Could she have killed her aunt to protect her father’s business-and the money he gives her?

Hmm…

Then there is grandfather and Sergio-we know hardly anything about them…could there be more there?

Hmmm…

And what about Monica? She has crazy eyes and is obsessive about Ian. If his mother tried to break them up, could she have come on the island unbeknownst to anyone and taken care of her?

I really enjoyed it and I recommend it. It was a cute mystery and had a few twists and turns.

To start Horrorfest VIII from the beginning, go to Count Dracula the Propagator of This Unspeakable Evil Has Disappeared. He Must Be Found and Destroyed!: Horror of Dracula (1958)

For more Christmas movies, go to Once, There Was Even a Man Who Had Scissors for Hands: Edward Scissorhands (1990)

For more Amazon Prime picks, go to I Have a Dubious Reputation: The Notorious Landlady (1962)

For more films that feature a Candlestick, go to One Blow to the Head and the Deed is Done: Candlestick (2014)

You Know Me So Well

So Christmas has come and gone:

And I don’t know about you all, but I got just what I wanted:

Yes! You know how I love tea!!!

And this!

Sweet!! You know me, Jane is the best-anywhere and anytime

And then the cherry on top!

That’s awesome

So I had one fantastic Christmas! I hope you all did as well!

For more on tea, go to You Know You Really Love Tea When…

For more on Jane Austen, go to All I Want for Christmas

For more Back to the Future, go to With a Little Luck of the Irish: 17 More Irish Heroes

All I Want for Christmas

Hmm…what do I want for Christmas?

After all what makes the best gift?

I hope you all get everything you desire under the tree

Merry Christmas!

For more Christmas posts, go to Trek the Halls with Bones and Scotty

For more book-filled posts, go to Magic in Books

Trek the Halls with Bones and Scotty

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Trek the halls with Bones and Scotty
Fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la!
”Tis the season to be Spock-y,
Fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la!

So I know this is right in the middle of our 30 Day challenge, but I wanted to take time out to do one more Star Trek post.

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This year I was hoping to do more as it was its anniversary year, but I just wasn’t able to.

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Yes, I’m sorry. I hope you all had a very Star Trek-tastical year. I did:

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And even though Star Trek didn’t really celebrate Christmas, I don’t care. I had a lot of fun coming up with that song. I wanted to add another line about Kirk and the Enterprise, but couldn’t come up with any more rhymes. 😦

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But I want to wish you a very Merry Christmas!

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And may the spirit live on through the next year:

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So my goal was to post 25 Christmas carols leading up to Christmas, but things didn’t quite go as I planned.

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First I actually added a few extra posts so we will have 28 Christmas Carols instead of 25.

Wow

Wow

And I haven’t been able to finish them all. I have eight posts still to do, so I most likely won’t have every song posted on here when it is published.

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But don’t worry, I will continue to post them as I make them up. Just like I did in Horrorfest V.

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So our final Christmas Carol, Deck the Halls. The earliest known version of this carol dates back to 1862 by Welsh John Thomas, while the music comes from the Welsh New Year’s carol Nos Galan from 1794. The English version most know today comes from Thomas Oliphant, a Scottish musician.

I chose the Bing Crosby version as you all know how much I love hearing him sing.

So I hope you enjoy you day, and the carols I choose this year!

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List of Christmas Carols chosen this year:

As Long As There’s Christmas by Various

Away in a Manger by Bing Crosby

Blue Christmas by Elvis Presley

Carol of the Bells by Various

Christmas Needs Love to Be Christmas by Andy Williams

Deck the Halls by Bing Crosby

Dominick the Donkey by Lou Monte

The First White Christmas by Various

Good King Wenceslas by Bing Crosby

Go Tell It On the Mountain by Mahalia Jackson

Home for the Holidays by Karen Carpenter

I Believe in Santa Claus by Mickey Rooney and Ron Marshall

I’ll Be Home for Christmas by Karen Carpenter

It Came Upon a Midnight Clear by Celtic Woman

Last Christmas by Wham!

Little Saint Nick by The Beach Boys

“Miniature Overture” from The Nutcracker by Ilyich Tchaikovsky

O Little Town of Bethlehem by Nat King Cole

O Holy Night by Josh Groban

O Tannenbaum by Celtic Woman

Run, Ruolph, Run by Chuck Berry

Silent Night by Celtic Woman

Silver Bells by Bing Crosby and Carol Richards

Trim Up the Tree by Various

We Need a Little Christmas by Angela Lansbury

We Three Kings of Orient by Hugh Jackman, David Hobson and Peter Cousen

What Child is This? by Josh Groban

Maybe Christmas, He Thought, Doesn’t Come from a Store. Maybe Christmas…Perhaps…Means a Little Bit More: How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Day 13) M is for Merry Christmas: Choose a Christmas themed book you have to read every year

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How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss

As you know I have loved to read since an early age

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And one book I have been reading since a child, and every year around the holidays is How the Grinch Who Stole Christmas. 

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I know I have gone on and on about this book in the past, so I’m sure you think that the post will be done quickly, with just these few words…

Majorly

Majorly

You all know how obsessed I was with the book; from watching the animated film:

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To the live action film:

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To eating boxes of cereal to send away enough proofs of purchase to get a Grinch keychain.

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But why am I obsessed with it?

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The reason why I love this story, read it over and over; is that I just can not get enough of the message behind it.

The moral of the Grinch is that all can be touched by the true spirit of Christmas. Christmas is more than ribbonstags, packages, boxes or bags. It is more than the presents, trees, the dinner you feast on, candy, etc. It is about love:

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And that love surpasses all and can change any old Scrooge or Grinch into a better person.

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I have also just discovered that December 25th marks the 60th anniversary of this story. Happy Anniversary Grinch pal!

Double double yay

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To start the 30 Day Challenge from the beginning, go to It Was a Pleasure to Burn: Fahrenheit 451

For the previous post, go to I Finally Read Moby-Dick

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For more on Dr. Seuss, go to You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch

For more on How the Grinch Stole Christmas, go to Fah Who Foraze, Dah Who Doraze, Welcome Christmas

For more 60th anniversaries, go to Oh, Moses, Moses: Happy 60th Anniversary to The Ten Commandments

For more anniversary posts, go to Live Long & Prosper: Happy 50th Anniversary Star Trek

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So I was trying to think of a Christmas Carol that goes with the Grinch as I have already reviewed You’re a Mean One Mr. Grinch and Fah Who Foraze, Dah Who Doraze, Welcome Christmas

But luckily there is one more song to cover…Trim Up the Tree. Short but a lot of fun!

Merry Christmas!

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For more Christmas carols, go to Someone is Killing By Copying Old Murders!: Real Murders

You Will Be Haunted By Three Spirits: A Christmas Carol

Day 7) G is for Ghost: Choose a Ghost story

I’m not really a ghost person.

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After all I am a Ghostbuster!

Ghost stories aren’t my thing so I tried to figure out what to do and thought about all the books I like, which one could possibly have a ghost in it?

Thinking Hmm

And then it hit me:

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I know a book I love that has not one, but four ghosts!

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A Christmas Carol: Being a Ghost Story of Christmas by Charles Dickens

So I love this story.

I love it

Every year I watch a film version of this book: whether A Flintstones Christmas Carol, A Christmas Carol, Muppet Christmas Carol, Mickey’s Christmas Carol, etc.; I’ve been in plays of it, and of course: I enjoy reading it.

I love it!

I love it!

A Christmas Carol was written in the fall of 1843. Originally it didn’t sell well, but became extremely popular through the public readings that Dickens did.

This book also came out at just the right time. Thanks to Queen Victoria’s German husband, Prince Albert, Christmas culture changed with a whole flurry of new ways to celebrate the holiday, becoming the traditions we currently practice. For instance Christmas trees became something now done in England.

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We now see the jolly old Santa Claus, used later in stories and culture.

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And Christmas cards became a tradition and were sent out in the penny post.

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But not everyone had a nice Christmas. Many had to still work in the factories and poverty was running rampant; very grim indeed.

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A lot of historians actually attribute A Christmas Carol as being the first thing to start the ball rolling. It opened peoples’ hearts and more reforms were adopted; such as the Bank Holiday act in 1871, making Christmas an official day of rest. 19 years later, every state in America had adopted the same practice.

Double double yay

Yes like Uncle Tom’s Cabin and The JungleA Christmas Carol was more than just a novel but changed the very world we live in.

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So let’s get started with the review!

“I have endeavoured[sic], in this Ghostly little book, to raise the Ghost of an Idea, which shall not put my readers out of humour[sic] with themselves, with each other, with the season, or with me. May it haunt their houses pleasantly, and no one wish to lay it.”
Their faithful friend and Servant,
CD. [Charles Dickens]

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So the story begins with stating the fact that Jacob Marley, Ebenezer Scrooge’s old partner is dead. Without him being dead then we would not have a story.

Marley has been dead for seven years, with Scrooge carrying on the business. Scrooge is a cold-hearted businessman who only cares about money. Everything from appearance, demeanor, and personality is cold, cruel, harsh, and sharp.

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No one liked him and all avoided him, as who wants to poke the angry beast?

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Scrooge is miserly, and one way he is tightfisted is to keep his door open to make sure that his clerk does’t try to add more coal to their fire. Poor clerk, Robert “Bob” Crachit. It is freezing outside and even colder in the presence of Scrooge.

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That evening Scrooge’s nephew Fred comes to call on him. He wants to invite Scrooge to his house for Christmas, but Scrooge refuses. He doesn’t keep Christmas at all and sees no reason to celebrate.

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He also pokes at Ned’s “poor” life and wife.

“What’s Christmas time to you but a time for paying bills without money; a time for finding yourself a year older and not an hour richer; a time for balancing your books and having every item in ’em through a round dozen of months, presented dead against you?”

You know I’ve seen a lot of posts lately by my age group saying the same thing. Christmas isn’t anything special but just having us be a year older, poorer, and unhappier. I think it is horribly sad.

No thank youhowaboutno

Let’s not Scrooge around, but be Freds instead.

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After Fred leaves, wishing Bob a merry Christmas, Scrooge is approached by charity workers. They appeal to Scrooge for help, but he refuses. He thinks the workhouse and poorhouse is substantial (I’m sure that sentiment was shared by many others before reading this novel.) He even goes on to say that if people die because of their poverty, than things would be better as less people on the Earth is best.

Jerk

Scrooge gives Bob a whole day for Christmas (his question now making sense as I earlier stated that it wasn’t a law to give people Christmas off until 1871), although angry at missing out on the extra work. But even though he is given his day to celebrate, Scrooge warns Bob that he must be in, even earlier the next if he wishes to keep his job.

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Scrooge then heads home that night and that’s when things get…a little creepy. As he goes through the foggy streets

Stay out of the forest!

The door knocker on his home changes until it becomes the face of Marley!

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But then it becomes a knocker again, just a figment of his attention.

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But later that night Marley appears. Scrooge tries to convince himself he isn’t real, but the Marley’s ghost is here!

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Marley has come to him to warn him. Scrooge sees the chains wrapped around Marley and is astonished. Why does he have such horrible things on him.

“I wear the chain I forged in Life,’ replied the Ghost [Marley]. ‘I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on, of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it…’Or would you know,’ pursued the Ghost, ‘the weight and length of the strong coil you wear yourself? It was full as heavy and as long as this, seven Christmas Eves ago. You have laboured[sic] on it, since. It is a ponderous chain!”

Scrooge tries to console Marley, that while he didn’t help others he was a good businessman. But that is not what life is all about. As the bible says:

“It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of the needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” Mark 10:25

That love of money separates us in our relationships, as the greed consumes our soul.

“Business!’ cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. ‘Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business…At this time of the rolling year,’ the specter said, ‘I suffer most: why did I walk through crowds of fellow-beings with my eyes turned down, and never raise them to that blessed star which led the wise men to a poor abode? Were there no poor homes to which its light would have conducted me!”

Marley warns Scrooge that he still has time to change. He is to be given the gift of three spirits He leaves and the air is than filled with ghosts, all those he knew in life and all covered in chains.

GHostFantasia

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The first spirit, The Ghost of Christmas Past, comes a young boy but also an old man.

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He has him touch his robe and the two travel back to Scrooge’s boyhood.

Scrooge is at school and alone as everyone else is gone for the Christmas break. As he sits glum and alone, a woman comes in to the room…it is his sister Fanny! He loved his sister dearly, and she him. She has begged her father to bring him home and he has finally agreed. They leave the boarding school to spend a very merry Christmas together.

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But Fanny didn’t live in the world long. She died after giving birth to her son Fred.

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Later they visit his old boss Fezziwig. Unlike Scrooge, Fezziwig always liked to treat his clerks right; having them stop on Christmas eve and throwing a party for all his employees. It only cost a little, but he understood the true meaning of Christmas. To give.

“He has the power to render us happy or unhappy; to make our service light or burdensome: a pleasure or a toil. Say that his power lies in words and looks; in things so slight and insignificant that it is impossible to add and count ’em up-what then? The happiness he gives, is quite as great, as if it cost a fortune.”

Now as you can tell I love the language of this book, the characters, the moral–but I also love how when you read the book you see how the change starts in him so early in the adventure, transforming him at every step. Looking at the young boys, he wishes he was nicer to a boy singing Christmas carols. And seeing how great Fezziwig was, makes him ashamed of his own conduct with Bob.

Hmm...

Hmm…

But then he is taken on and sees the broken engagement of his fiancé, Belle. She breaks it off, as Scrooge no longer cares about her anymore. All he cares about is money.

“What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” Matthew 16:26

Man, I just think how hard that would be. To give up someone because you know it won’t work, and poor Scrooge. He really missed on a winner.

In the next scene he sees how much he missed out when he sees her, her husband, and the family all gathered in one very happy, merry Christmas bunch.

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On the second hour we have the Ghost of Christmas Present. The Ghost of Christmas Present is a giant, jolly and dressed in holly chowing down on Christmas treats.

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Scrooge touches his robe and off they journey. It is Christmas morning and many are at work in their shops or readying their homes. Christmas Present has a torch, that when he sees anger, quarrels, or any unhappiness; sprinkles fire from his torch bringing good humor and Christmas cheer.

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They go down to the Cratchit house, a family of eight, very poor, but full of Christmas cheer and happiness. They wear threadbare clothes poorly patched: have limited food and call it a feast; thank Scrooge for providing the feast even though he is cruel; and the youngest, Tiny Tim, is crippled yet is proud that in his body he can remind others of the miracles Jesus did and the true reason for the season.

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Scrooge becomes invested in the scene before him and little Tiny Tim. When he asks about whether he will live, Christmas Present tells him that looking to the future his crutch is the only thing he can see.

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They visit others, and then find themselves at the home of his nephew where he is having a fun Christmas dinner. They have lots of fun laughing, singing, and playing all kinds of games.

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After all:

“For it is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when its mighty founder was a child Himself.”

Scrooge would like to stay there, but that spirit’s time is over and he must return, the new one coming next.

The next is the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, truly frightening figure in a black cloak that covers him and silent as the grave.

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The first place they go is to a dead man’s home who’s items are stolen by employees in the area. No one liked this man, his funeral had barely anyone and the items stolen went unnoticed. Debtors are happy that he is gone as the next master may be kinder.

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They then stop by the Cratchits, who are mourning the death of Tiny Tim.

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They stop by his old haunts, but he is not there. The spirit takes him to a graveyard where his tombstone lies. The man they all hated that are thrilled is gone, is him.

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He pleads with the spirit for another chance, for time, to be able to be a new person.

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Scrooge awakens to find himself home, in his bed. All the adventures having been done in one night and it being Christmas morning.

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Christmas time

He decides to begin making amends as soon as possible. First he orders the hugest turkey to send to the Cratchit family; he finds the charity workers from the day before and promises to give them a lot of money; and to top it off goes to his nephew’s house for dinner. They spend a wonderful night together.

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The next day he awaits Bob, who comes late to work. At first Scrooge acts angry, like he was going to fire Bob, but then wishes him a Merry Christmas, raises his salary, adds more coal to the fire, and helps all in every way he can.

“He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world.”

Scrooge becoming a new person

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17

“And as Tiny Tim observed,

God Bless Us Every One!”

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I love this book. From beginning to end, the characters, the language, the writing, the descriptions-oh. Just a fantastic read!

 

ReadingNOtBoring

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To start the 30 Day Challenge from the beginning, go to It Was a Pleasure to Burn: Fahrenheit 451

For the previous post, go to The Unknown Princess Nevermore

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For more on Charles Dickens, go to The Taxman Cometh

For more on ghosts, go to They’re Coming for Me Now…And Then They’ll Come for You: House on Haunted Hill (1959)

For more Cassandra Clare, go to Drug of Choice

For more bible verses, go to Is Love at the Thanksgiving Parade Really Just Pride & Prejudice?

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So I know the book mentions the Christmas  carol God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, but I’m not going to talk about that carol as I already reviewed it last year.

So as Queen Victoria adopted her husband’s Christmas traditions, making the tradition of Christmas Trees a global tradition, I decided that is the song I am going to go with.

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Except I’m going to go with the traditional German version, O Tannenbaum.

This is an old song and wasn’t originally it wasn’t a Christmas song as Tannenbaum means fir tree and is instead about its symbol of steadfastness and constantcy. However, in 1824 Ernst Anschütz updated the song, changing the words to make it about Christmas; paired at just the right time when, as said before, Christmas trees were added into the culture of Christmas instead of just Germany.

I choose the version by Celtic Woman as I think this group is extremely talented.

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For more on Celtic Woman, go to Waiter, There’s Some Disney in My Jane Austen

For more Christmas Carols, go to I Think I Have Found a Means of Conveyance…An Elephant: Around the World in 80 Days

 

30 Day Challenge: Literature Loves

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Yes it is that time of the year, our new tradition of a 30 Day Challenge. As I am a book lover and just can’t get enough books, I decided this year we will cover that love.

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As any book lover knows, it is difficult to choose a favorite book.

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So this will either fit the category of the book challenge, or will be a book I love. I’m hoping to meld both, but I know that won’t happen for every one of them.  I also ran into a few issues finding 30, so I had to get a tad creative.

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I am also going to skip the Jane Austen novels as I always talk about them on this blog. I’m going to try and do books I haven’t mentioned already, but no promises on that.

I can't help it.

I can’t help it.

Now every time I try to do something in December, it tends to fail. I just get toooo busy.

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But this year I am really going to try.

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So here we go!

30 Day Challenge:

Day 1) A is for Apocalyptical: Choose a book with an Apocalyptic theme

Day 2) B is for Best: Choose a Best-Selling novel

Day 3) C is for Childhood: Choose a book you used to read over and over again when you were a Child.

Day 4) D is for Diary: Choose a novel or memoir in Diary form

Day 5) E is for Elephant: Choose a book with a Elephant on the cover

Day 6) F is for Free: Choose a book you got for Free

Day 7) G is for Ghost: Choose a Ghost story

Day 8) H is for Happily Ever After: Choose a novel that is a retelling of a fairy tale

Day 9) I is for Island: Choose a book that takes place on an Island

Day 10) J is for Jane Austen: Choose a book based on, a sequel to, or a retelling of one of Jane Austen’s works

Day 11) K is for Killer: Choose a book with a murderer

Day 12) L is for List: Choose a book from your to-read List

Day 13) M is for Merry Christmas: Since this 30 Day Challenge is being done in December, let’s pick a favorite book that captures the merry Christmas spirit.

Day 14) N is for Name: Choose a book with a character that shares your first or last Name

Day 15) O is for Ocean: Choose a book that takes place on or in the Ocean

Day 16) P is for Politics: Choose a book that is Political

Day 17) Q is for Quest: Choose a book in which the characters go on a Quest

Day 18) R is for Remake: Choose a book that is a Retelling of a classic

Day 19) S is for Short Stories: Choose a collection of Short Stories

Day 20) T is for Translated: Choose a book that was Translated from one language to English

Day 21): U is for Unhappy: Choose a book with an Unhappy ending

Day 22) V is for Vanished: Choose a book with a missing person

Day 23) W is for Weather: Choose a book where the Weather plays a major role

Day 24) X is for X: Choose a book whose author has an X in their name

Day 25) Y is for Young: Choose a junior or Young adult book

Day 26) Z is for Zombie: Choose a Zombie retelling of a classic novel

Day 27) One, Two, Buckle My Shoe: Shoes symbolize wealth. Choose a novel that involves wealth or fashion

Day 28) Three, Four, Shut the Door: Doors symbolize new beginnings. Choose a novel where a character has to start over

Day 29) Five, Six, Pick Up Sticks: Sticks symbolize power, strength, or judicial decisions. Choose a book that revolves around a powerful ruler or ruling.

Day 30) Seven, Eight, Lay Them Straight: Straight means upright. Choose a book with a moral or strong moral character

Additional one to keep the Symmetry

Day 31) Nine, TenA Big Fat Hen: Hens symbolize motherhood. Choose a book that revolves around a family or strong motherly character.

Have Card will Travel

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For more 30 Day challenges check out 30 Day Challenge: All About Me! and 30 Day Challenge: Disney Edition

For more book loving posts, go to Sadly I’m a Stalker

We Wish You A Merry Christmas

For the past two years I have done a countdown post of 25 of my favorite films that feature Christmas. I was going to do another one this year, but was too tired from yesterday’s post. So instead I am going to do something different, I’m going to finish up our 25 Carols of Christmas posts.

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But before I do that, I want to stop and acknowledge who’s birthday today is, other than Jesus. Today marks the 200th birthday of Emma.

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This book was published in 1815, and changed literature. Yes, what started out as a character that only Austen was supposed to like, turned into something beloved by all.

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From her radical views on marriage and love:

Emma

To her crazy schemes that always ended comedically.

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And let’s not forget the handsome Knightley, the purveyor of common sense and one handsome hunk.

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Happy 200 Emma! Here’s to another!

Emma

And a Merry Christmas to all!!!

At Christmas

For more on Emma, go to Waiter, There’s Some Disney in My Jane Austen

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Now for today’s Christmas Carol. It was hard to choose the final one, but in the end I decided to go with my absolute favorite Christmas Carol, We Wish You a Merry Christmas.

This Christmas Carol came about from the tradition of wealthy Englishmen giving treats to Christmas carolers, such as fig, raisin, or other type of pudding.

I just love the beat and the lyrics. This song is so much fun and truly helps you wish a Merry Christmas.

So in that case I wish you all a Merry Christmas!

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 For more on We Wish You a Merry Christmas, go to On the 6th, 5th, 4th, 3rd, 2nd, & 1st Day ’til Christmas: The Music of Christmas

For more Christmas posts, go to 25 More Films of Christmas

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It was hard choosing just 25 Christmas Carols to post on, but if you would like to listen to my choices follow the links below.

All I Want for Christmas is You by Mariah Carey

Angels We Have Heard on High by REO Speedwagon

Christmas Don’t Be Late by Alvin & the Chipmunks

The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas to You) by Bing Crosby

A Cowboy’s Christmas by Wayne Newton

Do You Hear What I Hear from The Little Drummer Boy: Book II

Fah Who Foraze, Dah Who Doraze, Welcome Christmas from How the Grinch Stole Christmas

The First Noel by Bing Crosby

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen by Various

Hark the Herald Angels Sing by Celtic Woman

Here Comes Santa Claus from The Year Without a Santa Claus

Holly Jolly Christmas by Burl Ives

I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas by Bing Crosby and Martha Mears

I Saw Three Ships (Come Sailing In) by Various

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas by Bing Crosby

It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year by Andy Williams

Joy to the World by Celtic Woman

Just What I Always Wanted from Jack Frost

Oh Come All Ye Faithful by Celtic Woman

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer by Burl Ives

Santa Clause is Comin’ to Town by Fred Astaire

The 12 Days of Christmas by Various

When Christmas Comes to Town from The Polar Express

You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch by Thurl Ravenscroft

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And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.  And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

Merry Christmas!

A Cowboy’s Christmas

So you might recall me mentioning before how much I love Western things, and how when I was a little girl I really wanted to grow up to be a cowgirl.

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I was obsessed with anything cowboy or cowgirl. And of course I wanted to marry the handsomest cowboy of them all, Clint Eastwood.

I mean look at this man! Can you blame me for being crazy about him?

I mean look at this man! Can you blame me for being crazy about him?

So when I heard this Christmas Carol, A Cowboy’s Christmas by Wayne Newton, it became an instant favorite.

It’s funny, but it was only recently that I realized Wayne Newton was the singer, I never thought of him as a Western type of guy.

I have the song on a Christmas Album, but I can’t seem to find it on the internet. If you happen to come across it, trust me it is worth a listen to.

And just cause I can’t leave you empty handed:

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Merry Christmas!

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For more on Clint Eastwood, go to Hunk-a-Thon

For more Christmas Carols, go to Keep Moving Forward

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree

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So I don’t know about you all but my family actually cuts down our Christmas Tree. We always go the day after Thanksgiving to the black friday sales, and then a few hours to the forest to cut down our tree.

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Now some of you may wonder why we would go through so much trouble? Why not buy a fake one? Well I’ll tell you why:

1) The permit to cut down a tree only costs $10. That means you can get as big a tree you want for only ten bucks! For instance we got a 12 foot tree for 5% of the cost of  buying one from a lot.

Mal_huh Whoa Wow

2) Cutting down your Christmas tree is very good for the environment.

Say What

 I know many of you have just read that and are probably saying to yourselves this girl is stupid, but just hear me out. You see trees grow in clumps and while that is a great thing as they share resources, protect each other, pollinate each other, etc. However, at times this can be bad. Sometimes trees grow too close together that they are unable to get their share. Often times one, or all, the trees will die as there isn’t enough to go around. Cutting down your own Christmas tree from one of the clumps means that one side might be a little thinner (you just aim that side in the corner) and it helps the other trees grow big and strong. Also periodically clearing out sections of trees protects them in the summer when there are threats of forest fires. And of course, this cutting isn’t a free for all. You can only cut from certain sections, therefore protecting a wider majority of trees. You also have restrictions on the tree size. Your trunk can only have a diameter of 6 inches and there is a restriction of high the stump can be. These regulations keep older trees protected, along with making sure people are not cutting off the tops and leaving the rest of the tree.

That's a lot!

That’s a lot!

3) Cutting your own tree means that it will last longer. You see one of the biggest problems with tree lots is that these trees are cut at the end of November, shipped over to the city they will be sold, and hanging around on pavement until they are sold. They are not getting the same TLC or water and a lot of them die really early, shedding tons of pine needles along the way. Now when you cut your own tree, it is nice and fresh and lasts much, much longer. As I said we always get our tree at the end of November and take it down at the end of January. We could keep it up longer, but usually by February we are packing up our Christmas stuff. Besides longevity, it also smells absolutely wonderful.

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And with cutting down your tree there are always adventures. Three years ago I went with my parents and we brought my two nieces, my nephew, and our dog. We hiked all over the area in the snow looking for the perfect tree.

We finally found it and my dad cut it down using a manpowered saw rather than a chainsaw. I tried to help him but it was hard work and both of us were pooped. He was really tired so I had him rest and had to carry that tree on my own. Let me say, I’m never doing that again. It was sooo heavy! I don’t know how I was able to carry it even for a minute.

Mal_huh Whoa Wow

After my dad’s rest we finished moving the tree to the truck. After that I had to carry the three kids as the snow embankments had grown larger, and they wouldn’t be able to make it out. Yep, every time I feel like something is too hard, difficult, or heavy, I just remind myself that I carried a tree down a mountainside. I rule!

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And this year wasn’t any duller. There was no snow as we’ve been suffering some strong dry spells, but we still had a lot of fun hiking up and down the mountainside for that perfect tree. When we found it we cut it down (using a chainsaw this time) and started to head down the mountainside. Now, we’ve been doing this since I was like 13, but this year something happened that had never happened before.

As we started down the hill trying to bring the tree to the truck, my dad yelled at us to turn the tree as he wanted the weaker side pointed to the ground as that side was to lay in the flatbed. As we turned the tree, BAM! SMACK!

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The tree branches kept smacking me in the face. And when I mean kept, I meant it didn’t stop. I guess it was the section of the tree I was in, but I couldn’t see a thing, just branches and branches smacking me in the face.

I felt as if it was like in The Wizard of Oz when the trees come to life and start smacking Dorothy.

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It was almost like it was mad at me for me cutting it down.

When we got home we got it out of the truck and was taking it into the house and had to turn the tree again. Now this time I had stood on the opposite side of the tree, hoping that would keep it from hitting me, but now once again tree slap.

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Hair everywhere, I can’t see a thing, I’m afraid my glasses might get knocked off and go flying, and I am praying so hard that I do not fall in our pool.

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Luckily we get it in the stand and straighten it out. And boy does it look lovely. It kind of makes up for the abuse it gave me.

Now my abuse from the tree branches doesn’t end there. Oh, no! You see after I graduated and interned this summer; I moved back home. I’ve been trying to find a job, but this is pretty much what it is like.

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So to fill the time until I am hopefully hired, I am volunteering at quite a few places. One of which is my local museum. So last week I headed down there as it was my turn to work the desk. I brought with me some pine clippings from our tree as the museum was decorating for Christmas. Well it turned out that they didn’t have as many volunteers as they hoped, so they asked me to help with the decorating. I thought okay, it will be fun.

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So I thought decorating meant we were going to hang ornaments on the tree.

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We were making these giant wreaths.

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So I was paired with one of the volunteers and let me just stop and share something with you. Most of the volunteers at the museum are older, like 60+. So the woman I had wasn’t the most helpful. You see you take branches of the tree and put them on a plastic doughnut, tying them down with string or wire as you go along. Adding more and more branches until it is filled. However, that’s not what happened here. My helper laid tons of branches down and then sat down as she couldn’t tie them on. I tried to tie the branches down, but the wreath slipped and they all went crashing to the floor.

Noooooooooo!!!!!!!

Noooooooooo!!!!!!!

Yep, I had to do everything over, but this time I did it right. As I continued, more people came and helped out which was nice. It was a really hard process though as it had rained for the past three days, and all their tree clippings were soaked, making the already hard job of trying to tie them down even harder!

Replace Rothbart with wreath

Replace Rothbart with wreath

Finally we had completed it and I was tired. It’s a lot of bending over and being pricked/stabbed by the wire and tree branches. I sat down for a bit but then had to move on to making garland.

Stupid, stupid

OMG it was so hard. You have a piece of rope and have to twist tie the branch to the rope. Yep, those flimsy little twisty ties. IT TAKES FOREVER! You keep placing branches over and over each other to make it fuller and until you cover the rope. This is extremely hard. At times I was trying to use one of those flimsy things to tie three branches together! And because a lot of people had to leave, I had to do it all on my own. By one fourth of the way I wanted to burn the thing.

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We had a time limit to this as at noon the county was sending over free labor and the right machine to hang this things high up on the walls. So when every team completed theirs and saw I wasn’t even at the halfway point they all descended on me to help out.

Now you think this would have been nice, and it would have if it was one or two, but there were like five trying to take over the tying or telling me what to do. It made me feel kind of surly:

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But I just kept to myself, trying to be professional.

After that my shift was over and I headed home, bearing more battle wounds that those brought on by the slapping tree. My hands were covered in cuts and they hurt sooo bad, my back was aching from bending over, my feet were sore from standing, etc. But hey beauty is pain, and the place sure did look amazing!

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Merry Christmas!

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For more on Christmas trees, go to On the  7th Day ‘Til Christmas

For more on Christmas, go to the 25 Films of Christmas

For more moments of my every day life, go to How Can This Be?

For more on the Wizard of Oz, go to My Favorite Movie Lines

For more of my favorite songs, go to Fantastic Fantasies

For more of my favorite quotes, go to When in Doubt