Thursday, December 12, 2013

I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas--or not - Liz Flaherty

Liz Flaherty

Christmas is coming, sometime, and I'll start watching the movies any day now. You know the ones I mean: It's A Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street., Bells of St. Mary's--just to name a few. I sing with Bing Crosby--though most everyone around wishes I wouldn't--and rejoice right along with Jimmy Stewart when he finds Zuzu's petals in his pocket. I'm firmly convinced that the man who played Santa Claus in the original 34th Street movie really was him and if Ingrid Bergman wasn't a nun, it's because she missed her calling.
There are, however, things about these movies that bother me. Did you ever notice that Christmas is always white, the whole family makes it home, and no one actually has to cook the gargantuan meal that appears on the table? Everyone stands around the piano and sings Christmas carols. In tune. The women come downstairs in the morning with their hair combed and their makeup on. They obviously have not stayed up until three AM fitting part B into slot C. The kids are thrilled with all their gifts and never greet guests with the immortal words, "What did you bring me?"

Well, I don't know about you, but my family and our traditions don't measure up to the movies.

• Fact: When children grow up, they don't always make it home for the holidays. They are too far away, too broke, or otherwise committed. When they marry, they have spouses to consider as well as those spouses' families. When they have children of their own, they sometimes want to--gasp!--stay home on the holidays.

• Fact: Christmas isn't always white. Sometimes it's gray and muddy.

• Fact: It takes a lot of time and work to prepare a holiday meal that is up to movie standards. I gave up on it when I discovered supermarket pumpkin pies were every bit as good as mine and the crusts were better.

• Fact: We don't have a piano, and the only song the whole family knows all the words to is “Rhinestone Cowboy”. Actually, since our family has expanded over recent years, there aren't any songs we all know the words to.

• Fact: I'm not ready to discuss what I look like on any morning, much less one after I've stayed up late. Let it suffice to say Donna Reed and Ingrid Bergman would have nothing to fear from me.

• Fact: None of the kids in our family would make it in the movies.
So there it is. My family's holidays are never going to live up to the movies' portrayals. We burn or undercook the food, make horrendous gift choices, and lose track of the spirit of the days we are celebrating. We sing out of tune, dance out of step, and forget our lines.
While our scenes probably wouldn't translate well to the screen, they play just fine at our house. Because it doesn't matter at all whether we're in tune as long as we're singing. Whether we're in step as long as our hearts are in the dance. Whether we remember our lines as long as we're talking.

I hope everyone has a splendid holiday season, and if you need the words to “Rhinestone Cowboy”, give me a holler.
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Kristina Knight said...

I love those old Christmas movies! We have a new tradition, now that bebe's finally old enough to sit through, of picking out a favorite Christmas movie each night and watching together. Sure, she prefers the Home Alone's to the White Christmases...but it's still fun.

D'Ann said...

LOL Our Christmas has never been traditional. That's all I'm saying!

Nan said...

Yeah, you nailed it, Liz! And is awful to confess that once or twice, I've seriously considered packing up Husband and taking off to someplace else for the holidays--like, Williamsburg or NYC or Saugatuck or even Paris? Just the two of us...does that make me a terrible Grandma? I think I'll go downstairs and make some cookies and fudge. Merry Christmas to all!

Liz Flaherty said...

LOL, Nan. I've always said if no kids were going to be home for Christmas, I wanted to go on a cruise--just can't face an empty house on Christmas morning. Call me spoiled, I guess. Nowadays we go between houses, but we get to see almost everyone, so it works.

Liz Flaherty said...

Thanks for coming, D. Sometimes lack of tradition is a tradition in and of itself. As long as it's fun!

Alison Henderson said...

Miracle on 34th Street is my all time favorite! This year we're visiting our daughter in Chicago for Christmas, so it may (or may not) be white, but for after that we're all going to have to adjust to a green holiday. It may take a while. Merry Christmas to you, Liz!

Liz Flaherty said...

I love that one--only the old one, though. The remakes just don't do it for me!

Merry Christmas, Alison, to you and the OG!

Karen Michelle Nutt said...

We have a tradition to watch While You Were Sleeping when we decorate the house of Christmas. It's a cute feel good movie. :)

Liz Flaherty said...

Sounds great, Karen. Merry Christmas!

Debra St. John said...

Ah, we're gearing up for "It's a Wonderful Life" soon. That tops the list as one of our holiday favorites.

We also watch "Christmas in Connecticut"...another good old fashioned black and white.

Duane Flaherty said...

I love'em both, Debra. Merry Christmas!

Duane Flaherty said...

Oops, sorry--I'm here under hubs' ID!

Margie said...

For me, When Harry Met Sally, Love Actually, and Serendipity are must sees during the Christmas season, along with the ones you mentioned. Plus, I'm always up for a sappy Hallmark holiday movie :) Good post, Liz.

Liz Flaherty said...

Hi Margie. I have to see Serendipity--I haven't yet--but I love the other two.