MOM CONFESSIONS: Holiday prep is different for all
The other day I took our remote control and set the DVR to record a half-dozen Hallmark Channel holiday movies. We’re talking the seriously cheesy, made-for-TV movies, with titles like “Snow Bride,” “A Crown for Christmas” and “A Santa Baby.”
OK, I made that last one up. But you get the picture.
Before anyone gets their candy-striped stockings in a twist, I am not making fun of these movies. Or, at least, not that much. I am, after all, the one recording them. Much to the dismay of my husband, who wants to know why—in mid-November—the DVR is loaded up with holiday schmaltz instead of college football.
Don’t get me wrong: I adore college football. But as of late, I find myself in need of some sometimes-saccharine, holiday-themed, made-for-television goodness.
Why? It puts me in the spirit. It engages my heart without wearying my intellect. Which is a nice way of saying that watching it is a lovely, mindless pleasure. With a hint of cinnamon and sugar.
Watching a ridiculous number of cheesy Christmas movies—usually while folding clothes, or picking up the mess in the living room, or (gasp) grading or editing something for one of my jobs—is part of my holiday routine. It’s one of the ways I prep my mood for the season.
There are other things I do, too. I bring fresh greenery inside the house, I listen—in secret—to Christmas music in the car, starting round about the second week of November. I pull out all my favorite holiday recipes—the stalwarts and those I’ve been wanting to try to make for years but haven’t—and set them somewhere close at hand. These include everything from black bean chili to Oreo balls to mulled wine. What can I say? I have a refined palate.
In addition to the made-for-TV movies, I stack my holiday DVDs near the DVD player, and make grand, ambitious plans to watch one a week until Christmas … though of course that hasn’t happened since before I had children. My personal holiday classics—the movies I have to see each year—include: “White Christmas,” “The Family Stone,” “Love Actually,” “Miracle on 34th Street,” “Prancer” (this, mostly, is because of my deep, abiding love for Sam Elliot), “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas,” “Little Women” (the ‘90s version, with Winona Ryder and Susan Sarandon) and “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
I don’t care if you’re tired of it: Frank Capra was a genius, Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed were incandescent, and “It’s a Wonderful Life” is utter perfection. It’s timeless. It still feels fresh and new and pertinent, even in black and white, even after 70 years. I dare you to sit in a quiet room and watch the scene where young George Bailey stops his employer, the pharmacist Mr. Gower, from accidently giving a child poison, and not feel your heart break, just a little.
Of course, we decorate the heck out of our house. I try for at least one tiny decoration in each room, and in the family rooms, an overload.
I read Christmas stories to myself and to my children—wonderful tales including “The Gift of the Maji,” “The Polar Express,” and the “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.”
We—my family and I—participate in and make sure we’re there for some annual holiday events, like our town Christmas parade and festival (the kids are totally in it for the handfuls of tootsie rolls, candy canes, and other assorted goodies that get thrown down from the floats, and a glimpse of Santa at the end), and cutting down our Fraser Fir from a tree farm deep in the Pisgah National Forest.
These traditions, silly or sentimental, help prepare me, my house, and my family for the far-too-brief holiday season. What I want to know is, what do you do? How do you prepare for this most wonderful time of the year?
Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Talk to Katherine: Katherine Scott Crawford is a novelist, adjunct college professor, hiker and mom. Contact her at email@example.com.