Saturday, December 21, 2013

5 Things I Love about Christmas

There are so many things I love about Christmas, but I'll try to keep it to the top five.

5) I love going to the movies at Christmas time. And this year there are so many wonderful films to choose from. Last night I saw Saving Mr. Banks. What a wonderful movie! I remembered going to see Mary Poppins when I was a child. For years we sang the songs that became famous from the film. Saving Mr. Banks gives you a behind the scene look at the author of the beloved Mary Poppins books, P. L. Travers, and how Walt Disney tried for 20 years to get her to let him make the book into a movie. Though this is not a truly historical account, I'm sure the flavor of what happened has been captured. I loved getting a peak at how the Sherman brothers came up with some of the cherished tunes we have all become familiar. This movie brought tears to my eyes, which doesn't happen that often.  Children wouldn't care for it because it deals with issues adults struggle with like memories of things that have happened in our past that have shaped us into who we are. 

But a wonderful kid movie that is out right now is . . . 
Frozen. What a magical movie. This new Disney animation is loosely based on Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale The Snow Queen. I'm so glad to see Disney doing what they do best. This is a story about two princesses. Elsa possesses cryokinetic powers, and one night as she and her little sister, Anna, were playing she injures Anna. Her parents seek the help of the troll people, who heal Anna and in so doing remove her memories of her sister's powers. To protect both sisters, the king and queen separate the girls. The king and queen die at sea during a storm and three years later the people of Arendelle prepare to coronate Elsa as their queen, but, of course, things go wrong . . . If you get the chance, go see this great animated film that is bound to become a classic.

4) I love putting up Christmas decorations. It isn't always easy, but I love the finished product. The house is filled with warm glowing Christmas lights, garland, nutcrackers, Nativities, and all things Christmas.

3) I love Christmas carols. Some of my favorite CDs are: The Carpenters' Christmas, Michael Buble's Christmas, Bing Crosby's Christmas Songs, Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton's Country Christmas, and my favorite . . . Nat King Cole singing The Christmas Song. But I love so many more that I couldn't possibly list them all here.

2) I love making Christmas cookies.
Here's my grandson helping me with the gingerbread men. It's so much fun and the house smells fantastic. I make all sorts of cookies that have become a tradition in my family: Magic Bar cookies, Almond Crescents, and German Shortbread to name a few.

 And the number 1 thing I love about Christmas . . . well it's actually two--being together with family and remembering our Savior's birth. 

 My grandson made this cute paper manger with the baby Jesus inside.

Here's the family enjoying the lights on Temple Square. The night we went my son, Ben, was unable to be with us, but come Christmas Eve we will all be together reading the Christmas story.

I'm sure you have things that you love about Christmas. I've love to hear about your traditions and how you celebrate this time of year.

I'm going to take a couple of weeks off for the holidays. But come the first week in January I'll have a review of a new book that will be out by then. It's a keeper.


Thursday, December 12, 2013

Saving Our Christmas Tree Angel

I love the lights of Christmas, especially those on a Christmas tree. After a week of working on it, our Christmas tree is finally decorated, which was no small feat especially since the angel on top was nearly decapitated. 

Let me explain . . .

The day after Thanksgiving our tree goes up and is decorated. Well, this year it seems everyone in the house was suffering with bad backs and no one was willing to climb up the ladder to decorate the top of our fifteen-foot tree. We thought, no big deal. We can work on it a little each day.

But after several days of staring at a bare tree, I came up with a plan to make decorating the top easier and save our bad backs. See, we have a balcony overlooking the living room, and I thought, why not slide the tree over to the balcony, decorate the top, and then slide it back? 

This was good in concept, but in actually doing it, not so much.

I was right that decorating the top of the tree was much easier from the balcony, but what I forgot about was . . . the ceiling fan. 

As Hubby started sliding the tree across the room to its place in the front window, the angel hit the fan. If it had been turned on our pretty angel, who has looked down on our Christmases for decades, would have been decapitated. But fortunately for us it wasn't on and she was merely knocked backward, barely hanging on to the tree's top branches.

With careful calculations, Hubby was able to maneuver the tree away from the fan. 

So, what did we do to save our angel from falling off our very tall tree? 

We hauled out our trusty ladder. And despite my fear of heights and my bad back, I crawled up to help her stand upright. 

She now looks down on us in all her glory.

And the morale of this story is . . . even if you find a safer way to decorate the tree top beware of the ceiling fan and . . . always keep a ladder handy.

I hope you are able to enjoy the lights of Christmas and that an angel looks down on you.

What adventures have you had in decorating for the holidays?


Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Book Thief - Movie Review

Last weekend I saw a wonderful movie, The Book Thief. I've never seen a film narrated by Death, so I knew this was not going to be the usual World War II drama. Death gave the movie a somber, and yet strangely a hopeful tone. Why hopeful? Even though Death narrated the story, I was hopeful that the main character would pull through. I won't ruin the movie and tell you. You'll have to go see it.

The story is set in Germany just before and during the war. It is based on Markus Zusak's novel by the same name. The screenplay was written by Michael Petroni and the film was directed by Brian Percival.

The main character, Liesel, played by Sophie Nelisse, stole my heart right at the beginning. On a train ride with her mother and brother tragedy strikes and her brother dies. When they stop to bury him, one of the workers drops a book, which Liesel picks up. Even though she can't read, she keeps the book because it reminds her of her brother. Shortly after her brother is buried, her mother can no longer care for Liesel and gives her up for adoption. This is where the Hubermanns enter.

Hans and Rosa Hubermanns adopted her. Hans, played by Geoffrey Rush, is a very kind and caring father who helps Liesel learn to read. Rosa, played by Emily Watson, is a woman who speaks her mind. She doesn't warm up to Liesel right away and seems unfeeling to the young girl's plight.

As the story unfolds, Liesel makes friends with Rudy Steiner, played wonderfully by Nico Liersch. Rudy secretly adores Liesel and would do anything for her.

After attending a Nazi book burning, Liesel steals one of the books that escaped the flames. The mayor's wife sees her, but doesn't turn her in. Rosa happens do to laundry for the mayor's wife and when Liesel delivers the clean clothes, the mayor's wife shares her glorious library with Liesel. However, that comes to an end after the mayor finds out.

The Hubermanns' lives as well as Liesel's become complicated when Hans hides a Jew named Max, played by Ben Schnetzer (he has the most amazing eyes), in their basement.

After seeing so many movies about super-heroes, I found The Book Thief to be a great change of pace and a movie I will treasure because, yes, I'm buying the DVD.

Here's the trailer



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