So do you all remember my post last year on chopping down our Christmas tree? I talked about how hard and heavy it was and the way the tree kind of beat me up.
Well this year wasn’t as painful, but it was just as interesting.
So every year after Thanksgiving my family drives up to the mountains to chop down our Christmas Tree.
So some of you think that it seems like a ton of trouble but cutting down your tree is way better than buying it off the lot.
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 13 foot tree for 5% of the cost of buying one from a lot.
2) Cutting down your Christmas tree is very good for the environment.
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!
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 given a home. 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.
So this year we were gearing up to go, when we were called up by some friends of the family, the Nelsons. They’ve seen our trees and wanted one for themselves, so they asked to join us.
30 mins later, another family called, the Salamancas. They also wanted to join us, the more the merrier.
And not too long after that, the Hawkins called and wanted to come too.
So the next day, the day after Thanksgiving, we headed up the mountain caravan style. When we got there we got one big surprise. Snow!
Now you may recall me stating again and again how California has been in a drought the past few years. I mean, yes, we have had a few rainstorms but no one was expecting this. Of course when we saw it, we were all kinds of excited!
Now we may only be like an hour or so away from the snow, but where I live it never snows. It may get under 30 degrees, but if it does it will never rain.
We never get a white Christmas, the closest we ever come to it is a wet one.
And after like three years of going to the mountains and getting nothing, we finally had snow once again!
Of course I always dress for the snow, even when there isn’t anything, just because it is cold up there. But my family is the only one who was prepared that way. Everybody else had the wrong shoes, jackets, etc. Oops!
In fact there was so much snow that we weren’t even able to go to our usual tree cutting spot. The road was just covered in snow and black ice, in fact we almost got stuck at one point.
So we went back down the mountain, found a spot, and began the search for the perfect tree.
It was hard going, even harder than last time as the snow blinded us and made every tree look amazing. But upon closer examination, they were not quite what we wanted.
At one point it felt like we were never going to find it.
But then we found it. A beautiful 13-footer.
But then came the problem of cutting it down.
You see we had forgotten to bring the chain saw, and instead only had a regular saw. A saw which is very hard to cut down the tree with.
We all tried, but it was hard with that sap. However, thanks to our extra help we were able to get it down and to the road.
When we reached the road, we discovered we had walked really far away from our cars. So my dad went to get our truck while we waited.
Now by this time it wasn’t really snowing, but it had gotten colder and icy. The roads were completely covered in ice.
My dad drove down the hill, but when he tried to get back up to us, he almost got stuck in the side of the road as he started swirling off the road on the ice.
Luckily my dad was able to drive in reverse and get out of the ice so we could put the tree in the back of our truck.
When we got home it started raining, and we had to get our tree into the house in the wind, rain, and the dark. But it was all worth it. It looked absolutely beautiful when we put it up in our house and decorated it.
So today’s Christmas Carol is not Winter Wonderland as let’s be honest, it’s not even really about Christmas. Instead today’s song is I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas. The song was written by Irving Berlin and was sung by Bing Crosby, originaly in Holiday Inn, although at the time it was overshadoed by Be Careful It’s My Heart.
For me this wasn’t the first place I heard the song. The first time I was introduced to the song was in the Christmas special claymation, The First White Christmas: The Story of the First Christmas Snow. In it one of the nuns, Sister Theresa, sings about how she misses the white Christmases from her hometown.
However my favorite version comes from the film Holiday Inn, the first film to showcase the song.
I think the way that Bing sings it in this film is much better than the way the group does it in White Christmas. In Holiday Inn it just sounds so much more personal and meaningful.
You love them, you hate them, you love them again. Those who have sisters know the ups and downs. Those who don’t, take my word that the above song is pretty accurate.
Now I could go on about my sisters, but that’s not what this post is going to be on. Instead I am focusing on the sisterly bond between the Dashwood sisters.
With the Dashwoods we have three sisters: Elinor, Marianne, and Margaret; although Margaret doesn’t play as big a role as Elinor and Marianne.
Elinor is the eldest and she is the sense in the title. Elinor is only nineteen years old, but she is wise beyond her years and incredibly mature. She is level-headed, cool in judgement, and always thinks through very clearly on any decision being made. She’s pretty much the sensible older sister that has been copied and used in books, movies, TV shows, etc.
When Fanny comes in and is completely rude to the entire family, Mrs. Dashwood is eager to move out. But Elinor is able to stop her as she can keep a strong hold on her emotions as they need to stay there longer. Now she isn’t completely cold-hearted or an ice-queen. It’s just that she is a closed book.
“She had an excellent heart: her disposition was affectionate, and her feelings were strong but she knew how to govern them…”
She has sense and knows when to say something and when not to.
This is something that no one else in her family does. Now it is true that keeping feelings in can be wrong.
But on the other hand that isn’t always the best thing. Having your feelings out in the world can also cause a world of hurt.
So let’s move onto the middle sister:
Now Marianne isn’t just some stupid or light-hearted, fluff type of girl. She is beautiful, kind, generous, etc. The only thing is, her feelings were never held in moderation. That is, never keeping them in check. If she is happy, everyone knows. And if she is sad everyone knows.
Pretty much she’s walking around with no filter.
More like feelings than thoughts.
But such is sisters. I did a paper on sisterly roles in college for my family psychology class. When you have sisters, especially those close in age, they tend to gravitate to opposite traits in order to create their own identity, be unique, and carve a role for themselves in the family.
So we have here Sense in Elinor and Sensibility (feelings) in Marianne.
Therefore one that strives for sense as that gives her support and makes her feel completely stable in life. The younger sister sees that her older one is extremely sensible, which makes her want to be the opposite and governed solely by feelings. Also Elinor is the eldest so she also feels more of having to be dependable and responsible for the family.
So last year I tried to do 12 Posts of Christmas, unfortunately that didn’t work out as I got sick and involved in Christmas-y activities. However, this year I decided to do some thing in the vein of the Chinese New Year and Saint Patrick’s Day posts. Instead of posting everyday, a countdown of 25 of my fav Christmas Films. Now these aren’t my top 25, but I randomly picked them and then rearranged them in the order of how I love them.
25) Love, Actually (2003)
This has a complex storyline as the film has multiple paths. There is Billy Mack, aging rock star trying to get back in the limelight, redoing Christmas songs. Mark is secretly in love with his best friend’s girl Juliet but says nothing to honor his friend. Jamie flees to France after his last girlfriend cheats on him with his brother, there he falls in love with his Portuguese housekeeper. Harry, the direcctor of a design studio, contemplates having an affair with his assistant Mia. David has just become Prime Minister and develops feelings for a girl who works for him, Natalie. Daniel has just lost his wife and is raising his stepson. Sarah has feelings for Karl but her mentally ill brother, Michael, seems to throw a wrench in her plans. Colin is tired of striking out with English women and journeys to America. John and Judy are body doubles for actors who meet at work.
Why it’s Great: It has Colin Firth, Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, Hugh Grant, Liam Neeson, Martin Freeman , etc; need I say more? The Colin Firth storyline is really good, in fact keep an eye open for it’s reappearance this Feb.
24) Twas’ the Night Before Christmas (1974)
Santa isn’t coming this year as he has received an hurtful letter. A mouse and the clockmaker try and figure out what is wrong and fix it. The mouse’s son is the one that caused the issue and they are trying to get him to say he is sorry so that all can have Christmas.
Why it’s Great: They used to show this every year on the 25 Days of Christmas on abcFamily. It’s a great spin on a classic tale.
23) Catch Me If You Can (2002)
Leonardo DiCaprio stars in the film based on the true story of Frank Abagnale, Jr. Frank is a conman who pretends to be a teacher, pilot, doctor, and lawyer all before his 21st birthday. He steals millions of dollars in forged checks. Tom Hanks is the FBI Agent, Carl, that tracks him through the years, finally catching up with him.
Why it’s Great: While this isn’t your typical Christmas film, Christmas plays a significant part as it is the time that the two intersect throughout the years in the film. DiCaprio and Hanks are amazing in this film as they are such subperb actors. It’s a great thing to watch.
22) Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas (1997)
This film takes place in the midst of Beauty and the Beast. The Beast hates Christmas, because in this version that’s when the Enchantress came and turned him into a Beast. Belle is trying to bring back Christmas to the castle and help heal the Beast’s soul, but has to contend with an evil organ played by Tim Curry. For more Beauty and the Beast posts go here.
Short film based on the song about the magic hat that brings a snowman to life and his adventures with the town’s kids.
Why it’s Great: Its Frosty! How can you not love him?
21) Babes in Toyland (1986)
Drew Barrymore is a young girl who is not quite in the Christmas’ spirit. There is a huge storm and she gets into an accident waking up in Toyland. Mary Contrary (who looks just like her sis in ‘real life’) is being forced to marry the evil Barnaby Barnacle. She really loves Jack Be Nimble (played by Keanu Reeves and looks like her sis’ bf in ‘real life’.) Barrymore tries to stop the wedding and Barnaby’s atempt to conquer Toyland. They have to find the toymaker and get his help in saving the land.
Why it’s Great: This Wizard of Oz-esque film is adorable as it brings all the nursery rhymes you learned as a child to life.
A young creation, Edward Scissorhands, is discovered by an Avon saleslady, Peg. His creator was going to give him actual hands, but was not able to finish Edward before he died. The Avon saleslady takes him home to her place and has him join the family. Edward falls for the daughter Kim, played by Winona Ryder. Edward quickly becomes liked by all as he uses his scissors to create lawn art and cute hairstyles. After he is caught burglarizing a house, for Kim and her jerk boyfriend, he finds himself ostracized. In the end Edward is able to find love, his place, create more art, and make it snow.
Why it’s Great: First of all it has Vincent Price, in fact this was his last film before he died. It also is a super cute story, even though it has its sad moments. The last section of the film deals with Christmas, as Peg and her family throw a huge Christmas party that no one comes to as they are shunning the fam. I love Winona Ryder’s white dress in this film, I really want one for myself. It’s also really cute at the end when Edward makes the ice sculptures, and snow.
19) The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Our second Tim Burton film on our list. Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King, and the most popular guy in Halloweentown is disatisfied with his life. He journeys out of town and discovers doors to other holiday towns. When he goes into Christmasland he decides that he will take over Christmas and improve it. Of course nothing turns out quite as he plans.
Sandra Bullock works at a toll booth and everyday she watches the distinguished (and my opinion ugly) Peter Gallagher and has developed a crush on him. One day he is attacked and injured and she saves his life. At the hospital she is mistaken for his fiancé and soon brought into the family. She falls in love with them, along with Gallagher’s brother, played by Bill Pullman. Gallagher wakes up to find himself massively confused, and Bullock finds herself engaged to the wrong brother. Everything works out on the end as all is righted.
Why it’s Great: Well first of all it has Bill Pullman :D. Secondly it is a hilarious film, just like all of Bullock’s comedys. I mean the amnesia scene is to die for. The proposal scene with Bill Pullman is so an adorable and romantic!
17) The Holiday (2006)
Two women who have suffered horrible breakups switch homes for the Christmas holiday. Iris, Kate Winslet, in England goes to California, and befriends an elderly neighbor and falls in love with a Hollywood movie theme writer (played by Jack Black). Amanda, Cameron Diaz, in California, moves to England and falls for Iris’ brother, Jude Law, widower with two kids.
Why it’s Great: Its an absolutely adorable idea and the couples match up are perfect. Of course the most points go to the sexy dad, Jude Law. 😀
16) Nestor: The Long- Eared Donkey (1977)
Nestor is a donkey born with extremely long ears. In the vein of Dumbo, Nestor is constantly picked on and bullied for being so different. An angel encourages him that he was born that way for a reason and has a special purpose in life. Eventually, Nestor finds himself being the donkey that Mary rides in to Bethlehem, protecting her and the unborn Baby Jesus.
Why it’s Great: It is such a cute movie!!!
15) The Little Drummer Boy (1968)
This film is based on the song, “Carol of the Drum” or “The Little Drummer Boy“. A little boy and his animals end up becoming slaves to a circus, being treated cruelly by all. He escapes and one of his animals is injured. He meets up with the Three Magi’s caravan and goes with them to see Baby Jesus. His animal is healed and he plays his drum as thank you to Jesus.
Why it’s Great: It is one of the most adorable classic cartoons that they used to show every year on abcFam.
14) Jack Frost (1979)
Jack Frost has fallen for a human girl and makes a deal that will allow him be human. He is until Spring to win her over and must also gain a horse and bag of gold in order to remain human. Being a human is harder than he thought as he has no idea the social niceties and has to contend with Kubla Khan, the evil dictator.
Why it’s Great: Jack is amazing, much better than the gold knight the girl end sup with ;(. Makes you knida wish he was real. This cartoon also has great musical numbers as “Jack Frost” and “Just What I Always Wanted“. I also loves Kubla Khan’s little dummy that he talks to.
13) The Godfather (1972)
Such an awesome film! The Godfather is a story about the Italian mafia in the 1940s. This specific sect is overseen by Don Corleone. He has three sons; Alfredo (played by John Cazale), Santino (James Caan), and Michael (Al Pacino); and one daughter, Connie (Talia Shire). Santino is next in line to be godfather, skipping over his brother Fredo. Unlike his siblings, Michael wants nothing to do with his father’s business, instead wanting to live a “legal” life. When Don Corleone is shot by a rival, it changes everyone’s plans as they are all spiraled down a new path.
Why it’s Great: Two words, The Godfather. There is no way to describe how amazing this film is, well actually You’ve Got Mail does a pretty good job. You just have to check it out for yourself. This film isn’t a Christmas movie really, but does have a Christmas scene, so it counts. It’s funny, but even though this doesn’t have Thanksgiving, we usually watch it then in my family.
12) The Nativity Story (2006)
A retelling of the birth of Christ from Mary and Joseph’s point of view. It shows the struggle that Joseph goes through, contemplating what to do about pregnant Mary. Then the two have to travel far and long to Bethlehem.
Why it’s Great: They tried to keep the story as historical accurate as possible and do such a great job. It really tries to bring the biblical text to life and get you to empathize with the two and the situations they are going through.
11) The Chronicles of Narnia: the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (1988)
A mini-series based on C.S. Lewis’ beloved books. Four siblings, Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy, enter a wardrobe and a magical world. The four find themselves caught in a battle between the evil White Witch and the Godly Lion, Aslan.
Why it’s Great: C.S. Lewis’ great book = Great movie. Enough said! While Christmas isn’t the biggest part of the plot, the group do run into Father Christmas who gives them gifts they need to win the fight against the White Witch. Peter gets a sword and shield, Susan a bow and horn that will always bring help, and Lucy a dagger and a healing substance to help the wounded. While this movie was remade by Disney, it doesn’t hold a candle to this mini-series, as the series while not having the great special effects, is almost exactly the book.
10) White Christmas (1954)
Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye are WWII veterans who became a song and dance duo. The two meet up with a pair of singing sisters and both head off to the same ski lodge. There they discover their old general is the owner, and may lose the place from lack of buisness and snow. The two come up with an idea to house a show there with the sisters. Bing Crosby starts a romance but the two break it off due to some misunderstandings. In the end they are all reunited and have a great number honoring the General and singing the title, White Christmas.
Why it’s Great: First of all Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye! Secondly this has some truly great musical numbers; such as “Gee, I Wish I Was Back in the Army“, “Sisters“, along with the title song. It’s a silly and zany film, you’ll love it.
8) A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)
The Peanut gang try to figure out the true meaning of Christmas amid all the insanities of the holiday.
Garfield and the gang head out to the Arbuckle farm for some old fashioned country Christmas
Why it’s Great: Its from the good Garfield cartoons I grew up watching as a kid. That hilarious fat cat always makes the season brighter. Go here to watch.
7) A Christmas Story (1983)
Adult Ralphie narrates the time when his nine-year-old self desired a Red Ryder BB Gun for Christmas and all the trouble he went through to try and get it. Throughout the time leading up to Christmas, he, his family, and friends are involved in all kinds of crazy antics. The father wins a female leg lamp, Ralphie’s friend Flick gets his tongue stuck to a pole, his brother won’t eat unless pretending to be a pig, Ralphie gets a pink-footed bunny pajamas, etc. It all leads up to one crazy Christmas.
Why it’s Great: This movie is extremely hilarious. Pretty much every scene I mentioned there and more. It is is truly a classic piece. You gotta add it to your Christmas countdown. 😀
6) The Bishop’s Wife (1947)
The Bishop is trying to get a new cathedral built along with all his other duities. Feeling stressed out, he calls out to God for help, and is answered by angel Dudley, Cary Grant. Dudley helps out, that is by spending all his time with the Bishop’s wife. Through this the Bishop is finally able to see what really matters in his life and the true meaning of Christmas.
Why it’s Great: Uh…Cary Grant! It also has such funny actics as when we see Grant’s angel powers. I mean I wish I had his tree decorating skills. This film also proves the old adage, “be careful what you wish for” is something that one should think on. 😀 For more thoughts on this film go here.
5) How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)
The Grinch hates Christmas and decides to destroy and end the holiday, ruining the holiday for all the Whos. However, the Grinch finds out what the true spirit of christmas is, whether he wants to or not.
Why it’s Great: The Grinch was always my fav Dr. Seuss book. I just love the story so much! I remember that one year I ate a ton of a certain type of cereal and sent away for a special Grinch keychain. I lost it though in one of our moves. This film is also awesome because it has the amazing Boris Karloff narrating, and has one of the all-time best songs, “You’re a Mean One Mr. Grinch“.
4) Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
A Macy’s department store Santa believes himself to be the “real” Santa Claus. His insistence lands him in jail and then in a huge court case to determine whether or not Santa is real
Why it’s Great: It’s an amazing film about faith, believing in the intangible, and the true meaning of Christmas. Edmund Gwenn is a perfect Santa, Maureen O’Hara is lovely as always, and it stars a young Natalie Wood. It has amazing scenes as Santa turns Macy’s into a store of goodwill, taking down the psychologist, and pretty much just being adorable. Best scene ever is the court scenes when they prove Santa’s real. 😀
3) Holiday Inn (1942)
Bing Crosby plays a burnt out singer and moves to Connecticut to buy a country home and live a simple life. It soon becomes too much for him and he turns it into a hotel, open only on holidays. (Sounds like my type of place) Wannabe star Linda Mason starts to work for him and the two fall in love. Unfortunately, Crosby’s old partner and womanizer, played by Fred Astaire, comes back into the picture and tries to break up the two. It involves a lot of zany romance and comical moments.
Why it’s Great: The holiday songs are amazing; White Christmas, Happy Holidays, (Come to) Holiday Inn, Be Careful It’s My Heart, I Can’t Tell a Lie, etc. The wonderful partnership of Bing and Fred make this movie really great! 😀 A great watch. Now for some fun facts. This is the first time “White Christmas” was performed in a film. The same set was used for the film White Christmas which also stars Bing. The hotel chain Holiday Inn got their name from this movie.
2) The Shop Around the Corner (1940)
Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullivan work together in a shop in Budapest and can’t stand each other. Unbeknownst to them they are actually the pen pals that they are falling in love with. Stewart realizes this and does everything he can to show Sullivan that he is the man she loves and the two end up happily ever after. It was later remade as You’ve Got Mail.
Why it’s Great: JIMMY STEWART! That pretty much says it all. I love this film so, so, so, much, there are no words to describe how great it is. So romantic! ❤
1) It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
Jimmy Stewart plays George Bailey, a troubled man. An angel, Clarence, is given the story of George’s life and sent down from heaven to help him. George has always dreamed of leaving his hometown and traveling the world. Unfortunately, no matter what he does he continues to be stuck there. He marries and helps the town in many ways, but doesn’t realize all the good he does. However, when a large sum of money goes missing and everything in his life seems to be going wrong he wishes he was never born at all. Clarence helps him by granting his wish and showing him how ugly Bedford Falls would be without him.
Why it’s Great: This is one of my favorite Jimmy Stewart films. There’s a reason why this film is played every year, besides the fact that it is JIMMY STEWART! It is a great movie that really shows you how even the smallest acts can make a difference in people’s life. If you’d like to read more of my thoughts on this film go here. This film always makes me think of my dad. He has done so much for people and can get frustrated as he doesn’t feel like his has accomplished much. “Clarence: Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?”
So Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you all have a great day full of family, friends, and fun. 😀