Here we are already – it feels like just days away from Christmas and yet there’s really 3 weeks left in the Advent season – our time of waiting. It’s very hard to distance ourselves from the crazy hustle and bustle that the rest of the world is engaged in! I always have this vision of all the days between the first Advent Sunday and Christmas being filled with quiet prayerful time spent peacefully and joyfully with my family. In reality we still have busy school/work days, groceries to buy, bills to pay and just the ordinary hustle and bustle of every day life that is suddenly vying with the extra to do lists we all have to complete before Christmas Eve suddenly appears and evaporates before our eyes.
To survive this and somehow snatch some of that dreamed of quiet peaceful time spent with our loved ones I believe we have to make a conscious decision to actually carve out that time. In addition to lighting those Advent candles and engaging in some special prayers, we can decide to pick at least one evening each week of Advent to spend with just our family members. Maybe one night you can pack up some treats and take a drive to enjoy the neighborhood lights and another night spend some time singing or listening to some Advent or Christmas carols while enjoying a hot cup of cocoa together. Another very fun option is to pop a huge bowl of popcorn and pick a new, or an old favorite, movie to watch all together. (How many families today find themselves all watching a movie but on different screens and in different rooms?) In case the option of some family movie time is something that you might be interested in doing, I have picked some fun, lively and possibly not so well known movie options for you to peruse….
1) Eloise at Christmastime is about 6 yr old Eloise (Sofia Vassilieva) and is based off of the books about Eloise . The principal plotline is that of Eloise trying to reunite the hotel owners’ only daughter with former boyfriend Bill (who happens to be one of Eloise’s favorite hotel employes) before she marries another man (Brookes Oliver the third!!) whom she has brought back home to introduce to Dad.
Eloise is a precocious little six year old who has most of the Plaza’s employees wrapped around her adorable little pinky. Her “raaather British” nanny is played by Julie Andrews. But don’t be fooled by the inclusion of this actress who is so famous for her musical voice and have expectations of some wonderful musical pieces sung by Nanny. Sadly in 1997 a botched throat surgery cost Julie Andrews her incredible singing voice. Still there are a few little diddies in the movie that are enjoyable, they just aren’t performed by Nanny! This is a fun movie that has been enjoyed by all age groups in our family – though I no longer have toddlers and preschoolers in that audience anymore – for that I will have to borrow my sons’ or daughter’s children.
(Note: there is one occasion when Eloise exclaims “for Lord’s sake”.)
2) Eloise at the Plaza staring many of the same cast of Eloise at Christmastime, is another fun and innocent movie. To read my full review of this movie just click here.
3) The Great Rupert (or as it’s known now – A Christmas Wish) stars the great Jimmy Durante! I found this movie on the one dollar rack of DVDs in the grocery store way back in the day when I still had oodles of toddlers and preschoolers combined with elementary, middle school, high school and college kids to entertain all at once. Since the colleges kids were, well, in college – I can’t speak to their interest in this movie but everyone else enjoyed it. To read the full review that I wrote you can click here.
4) Christmas In Connecticut is an older movie released in 1945 staring Barbara Stanwyck along with other well known names of that era. (Apparently there is a 1992 tv remake of this movie which I have not seen and thus cannot recommend! But I will be investigating this so look for a review on this at a later time.) How did I come across an old classic like this since I am of a much,
much, later era than 1945? Well – you can click here and find out for yourself just how I did stumble across such an amusing and fun movie and read my review of it.
5) Fiddler on the Roof: I’m not sure how this became a Christmas tradition for us but every year we watch part of, or all of this version of Fiddler on the Roof. It is an incredibly moving story of life within the Jewish community on the eve of the Bolshevik Revolution and gives hints of the political tension of the time, as well as the societal changes that would eventually sweep the world in the following decades. It is filled with lively, as well as beautiful emotionally moving musical pieces. One of our favorites is the Jewish prayer sung by the parents before the Sabbath dinner. Holding a very close second is the song which our second oldest chose for her bride’s waltz with her father…. (Yes, I cried!)
There is some violence (not bloody but potentially scary for the younger fry) in this movie when the cossacks raid a community celebration and a very scary scene when Tevye shares his “nightmare” with Golde, his wife. I first saw this movie as a child in the early seventies on the big screen and was terrified. It is not as scary on the small screen but keep in mind the individual sensitivities of your own littles. Ours have not been very scared cuddled on one of their parents laps or that of an older sibling but I would suggest viewing the movie first if you think your child might be frightened. (You can click here to get a preview of the various pogrom scenes from the movie – if you have not seen this movie it is a bit of a spoiler if you pay close attention. Still, it might be a good idea to view them before watching the movies with your children so as to prepare for a lot of historical questions.)
Now if the links to two of my favorite musical pieces have not yet convinced you to include this in your holiday viewing let me share this clip (Tevye celebrating his daughter’s engagement to the butcher) and this clip with you and perhaps you will then find yourself convinced to give it a try. (This movie is 3 hours long so you might want to plan on splitting it over two nights and make sure your bowl of popcorn is especially deep!)
6) Christmas Angel is a sweet story about a little girl, Olivia, who helps children’s wishes come true though the mysterious assistance of what she thinks is an angel hidden in the decrypt house next to Olivia’s home. As Olivia becomes convinced that an angel must be granting her wishes for other children, her mother has a lovely conversation with her about what angels really are (messengers of God) and that they are not genies who magically grant wishes. Olivia’s Christmas wish is for her mother to find a husband whom she can love and share her life with and not just be only taking care of her. It’s never explained where Olivia’s father is – we just know that he is not in the picture. A sweet, feel good movie with a happy ending that focuses more on the Spirit of Christmas as God and not Santa…
This movie is currently available on Netflix under their Holiday selection – or just search by its title. I’m sorry but I don’t know if companies such as Amazon or Hulu are offering this for viewing or not. Amazon does sell it, but it is currently out of stock.
7) Switchmas – a cute story of two young boys very discontent about where they are being sent to spend the holidays. Ira J. Finkelstein is a young Jewish boy who has always desired to celebrate Christmas complete with a tree and snow. His parents are involved in the movie industry and hollywood scene. Clearly there is no snow in Ira’s future though he’s hoping to finally experience the magic of a winter wonderland as his parents have promised him a skiing vacation up north. These plans are thrown out the window when the Dad lands an opportunity to film with a big celebrity that could really open doors for him. Ira soon finds himself on the plane heading for Florida to meet his very Jewish grandparents and even more sunshine. In the Chicago airport he bumps into another child who looks rather similar to himself but is a little Christian boy heading for the state of Washington aka winter wonderland. Ira suddenly hatches the plot of the two of them exchanging tickets since the relatives at either end of their flights have not seen these two boys in ages. And as the saying goes, the rest is history!
Though Ira is searching for the fairy land picture of Christmas he ends up learning more about faith, love for family and what it means to face one’s fears. And our kids get to see a movie that is not selling us the idea that the reason of the season is the jolly old elf from the North pole. This movie is available for viewing on Netflix and is also for sale on Amazon.
(Note: there are a couple of incidents of bullying taking place that end up being resolved in a positive manner.)
It’s hard to believe but I wont “see” you again until next year , so though it’s still Advent I will close this month’s Seven Quick Takes by wishing you a very peaceful Advent and a blessed Merry Christmas. Don’t forget to head over to This Ain’t the Lyceum and I’ll see you next year with Catholic Sista’s first 7QT of 2016! (Please feel free to suggest some future themes you might be interested in reading here in our Seven Quick Takes.)