Thursday, December 10, 2015

Holiday Traditions

Charlie Harris from the best-selling Cat in the Stacks series by Miranda James

Most families have their own, special holiday traditions. When our children were young, my late wife and I used to take them to see the Houston Ballet's annual performance of The Nutcracker. Now, of course, Sean and Laura are adults, and we no longer live in Houston. Instead of going to see the ballet, we focus on another tradition we had -- watching our favorite holiday-themed movies together on Christmas Eve.

My favorite of them all is "The Bishop's Wife" (1947) starring Cary Grant, Loretta Young, and David Niven. I can't remember just when I discovered this movie, but I do know that it made an immediate and lGrant-young-and-nivenasting impact. It has a combination of whimsy, sweetness, and humor that I continue to find irresistible year after year. If you don't know the movie, here's a simple plot outline: Cary Grant is an angel who is sent in response to a plea from David Niven (the bishop of the title) for guidance. Loretta Young is the beautiful, somewhat neglected wife of the bishop. Cary does his duty although he is beguiled by his feelings for Loretta. It's a story about ambition, love, and understanding what is truly meaningful in life. Supporting players include Elsa Lanchester, Gladys Cooper, James Gleason, and Monty Woolley. Laura loves it as much as I do.

My second favorite -- and the one Sean loves -- is one we discovered thanks to TCM. "Christmas in Connecticut" stars Barbara Stanwyck and Dennis Morgan, with memorable supporting players Sydney Greenstreet, Reginald Gardiner, and S.Z. "Cuddles" Sakall. Dennis Morgan is a war hero, one who starved himself to save a friend, and all he thinks about is being able to eat good food again. His nurse writes to Stanwyckthe publisher of a magazine (Greenstreet) about him, and Greenstreet decides Morgan should spend Christmas with culinary expert and writer Barbara Stanwyck, her husband and child at their Connecticut farm. There are a few problems with this: Stanwyck isn't married, has no child or a farm in Connecticut, and she can't cook. The shenanigans that result from trying to keep the publisher from finding out his star writer is a fraud are amusing and sweet.

Other favorites include "The Man Who Came to Dinner" (with Monty Woolley, Bette Davis, Jimmy Durante, Ann Sheridan, Reginald Gardiner, and the always wonderful Mary Wicks) and "A Christmas Carol" (the 1938 version with Reginald Owen, Leo G. Carroll, and Gene Lockhart). We gather at my house on Christmas Eve and watch a couple of them, and on Christmas Day we watch others. Diesel stares at the screen like he is watching them, too. And, who knows, maybe he understands the stories too. The holidays just wouldn't seem complete without these touches of nostalgia of Christmas past.

Our Season's Readings Contest has begun! I am giving away a signed copy of Dead With the Wind. Leave a comment today through Saturday. I will pick a random winner on Sunday. Sorry! U.S. entries only.

63 comments:

  1. I love A Christmas Story and watch it every year!

    skkorman AT bellsouth DOT net

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  2. I think I might love every Christmas movie ever!!!! I currently am on a Hallmark channel watching spree this year

    ejbs3s@yahoo.com

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  3. So many terrific Christmas movies to watch! I love the OLD ones that I watched way back when. Such fun to see actors I grew up watching.
    kpbarnett1941[at]aol.com

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  4. Those are some great movies. We have added The Christmas Card to our list.
    debby236 at gmail dot com

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  5. Every year we have a Christmas movie a night viewing. I have 2 favorites...A Christmas Story and Emmet Otter's Jugband Christmas.

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  6. My favorite is The Bishop's Wife, too!

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  7. The older movies are truely THE best. I still love "It's A Wonderful Life" with Jimmy. He was such a good actor. And of course Diesel understands. Dogs are smart like that. Sherylhbooth@gmail.com

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  8. My friend Mary introduced me to both of those classics! I also like to watch Holiday Inn every year. Thanks for the chance to win!
    JHolden955(at)gmail(dot)com

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  9. I enjoy the seasonal movies too. Kelly posted about Emmet Otter's Jugband Christmas. I haven't seen that one in years but would love to see it again. I especially enjoy all the various versions of Dicken's Christmas Carol. I have 3 or 4 versions on DVD and recently watched Scrooged, with Bill Murray on TV, this past weekend. dbahn@iw.net

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  10. Thank you for the movie suggestion! I love the classics they hold such a special place in my movie world. breannaherron@icloud.com

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  11. We watch White Christmas and It's a Wonderful Life every year. Thanks for the giveaway! dmskrug3(at)hotmail(dot)com

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  12. These are two of my favorites movies along with White Christmas and It's a Wonderful Life. I am looking forward to Charlie and Diesel's next adventure.

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  13. I watch a Christmas Carol every year. The older version with George C. Scott.thank you for the chance
    Moonbay7399@gmail.com

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  14. What wonderful movies. We also add Scrooged, White Christmas, and a great little movie, Christmas With Tucker.

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  15. Most Christmas movies are too sweet for me. I love A Christmas Story though.

    acm05atjuno.com

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  16. Miracle on 34th Street. All of your faves are wonderful. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

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  17. Aaah, these movies again. Love them all but especially the old classics. And thanks for the pictures. Going for my DVDs now.
    sallycootie@gmail.com

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  18. I love watching Christmas movies and the classics are the best! patucker54 (at aol dot com)

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  19. Christmas in Connecticut is my favorite----I just love those old movies.
    suefarrell.farrell@gmail.com

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  20. Christmas movies are heartwarming especially the old traditional movies which are meaningful and memorable. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

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  21. The Bishop's Wife is in a tie for my favorite Christmas movie and I love Christmas in Connecticut too. You didn't mention the film that ties The Bishop's Wife for me-A Christmas Story! "You'll shoot your eye out, Kid!"

    cozyupwithkathy @ gmail dot com

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  22. My all time favorite is still "It's A Wonderful Life"!!
    lindaherold999@gmail.com

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  23. I always try to catch Charlie Brown Christmas.
    sgiden at verizon(.)net

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  24. I really enjoyed Christmas in Connecticut. But my all time tear jerker is Holiday Inn with Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire.

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  25. I've always enjoyed the original Miracle on 34th. Street. Especially since I live in Brooklyn. These days I enjoy watching all the new movies that are on Ion tv for the holidays. They are for the most part sweet and sappy which is why I watch them with a box of tissues next to my lounger.

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    1. We don't get the Ion channels anymore with our cable. Don't know why they eliminated them. I know there was the regular channel and then maybe an Ion Life channel (healthy stuff). It would be nice to see the Christmas movies on Ion.

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  26. Nothing comes close to the original Christmas Carol.
    libbydodd at comcast dot net

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  27. It is not Christmas Eve if I am not watching It's a Wonderful Life while getting ready to go to midnight mass.

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  28. I absolutely love The Bishop's Wife and Christmas in Connecticut, and have the DVDs of both. You just can't beat the old films!!! A tradition in our house is to watch White Christmas while decorating, but I usually watch all of the old classics at least once during the season. For a modern favorite, we laugh every year while watching A Christmas Story. :-)
    nicolev.girldetective@gmail.com

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  29. I, too, love "The Bishop's Wife" with Cary Grant! My vision of what angels look like. I also greatly enjoy the classic "White Christmas" with Bing Crosby. As a contemporary Christmas favorite, it has to be "The Santa Clause." Watching these movies is a holiday tradition, along with reading The Polar Express and The Night Before Christmas. I love the holiday season! kat8762@aol.com

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  30. I love the older movies, but A Christmas Story is a favorite here. lkleback@hotmail.com

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  31. My favorite old-time Christmas movie is Miracle on 34th Street, especially the scene where the little girl who only speaks Dutch goes to visit Santa and he speaks to her in her own language. (I also love the parallel scene in the modern version where Santa talks in sign language to the deaf girl.) Brings me to tears every time. And I absolutely love Charlie and Diesel, and the Ducote sisters. Such great reading. Thanks for the fun chance to win. rencw@verizon.net

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  32. I'm not into the older movies. Some favorite Christmas movies are Jingle All the Way and A Christmas Carol (George C. Scott or Patrick Stewart versions). I also really like the first two Home Alone movies. I don't care for A Christmas Story.
    catbooks72(at)gmail(dot)com

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  33. My favorites include yours, as well as White Christmas, Scrooge (w/ Albert Finney), Meet Me in St. Louis. Thanks you for the giveaway! bobandcelia@sbcglobal.net

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  34. I love this one and White Christmas as well as Miracle on 34th St. and have all three to watch...Thanks for the contest...Merry Christmas.
    Marilyn ewatvess@yahoo.com

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  35. White Christmas is my favorite movie. I love the music.

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  36. I've always liked every version of A Christmas Carol. It's a little different in each one.

    edith.patchan@live.com

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  37. The Bishop's Wife is the perfect movie to watch to remember what is important during the Christmas season. I have it on VHS so fingers crossed that my machine keeps working. lmmeidam@gmail.com

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  38. I have always like the old movies during the Christmas season also. Something about the new ones don't seem as much like Christmas. ptclayton2@aol.com

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  39. I have always like the old movies during the Christmas season also. Something about the new ones don't seem as much like Christmas. ptclayton2@aol.com

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  40. Those older movies are the best! I wish they would replay them more often .

    ElaineE246 at msn dot com

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  41. For me nothing beats Miracle on 34th St. kphans08@gmail.com

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  42. A Christmas Story is my favorite Christmas movie. I love Charlie and Diesel. Thank you for this chance. areewekidding@yahoo.com

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  43. I love these movies....Cary Grant and the auto typewriter...how cute that was, and the baby fiasco with Barbara Stanwyck. Such fun movies. Thanks for the giveaway. Kuzlin at AOL.com

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  44. I love old movies!! It's not Christmas..but Arsenic and Old Lace I have seen at least 20 times or more...or You can't take it with you..that's great as well... rockergoddess2002@yahoo.com

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  45. Miracle on 34th Street and Its A Wonderful Like are oldies I like. The kids like the red rider BB gun - you'll shoot you eye out one LOL I sit and watch it with them and of course cant forget Home Alone too.

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  46. I like White Christmas

    kaye dot killgore at comcast dot net

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  47. Talk about taking a trip in the way back machine. Wow! Three of my favorite actors...Cary, David and Loretta. Bobbipad at gmail dot com

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  48. My husband loves White Christmas and Christmas in Connecticut. I really like The Christmas Story. I confess that I've been watching the Hallmark Christmas Movies.
    bluedawn95864 at gmail dot com

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  49. I enjoy watching several Christmas moves and keep discovering new ones (for I am watching the Hallmark channel too). I love Elf, A Christmas Story, Disney's Prep & Landing I & II, A Royal Christmas, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, Christmas With the Kranks, Arthur Christmas, A Princess For Christmas, and more.
    myrifraf(at)gmail(dot)com

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  50. Home alone is always my favorite movie around christmas.

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  51. My favorite is the version of Miracle on 34th Street with Natalie Wood. She played her role so convincing for a child. Thanks for the chance to enter.

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  52. I am going to try to find that movie to watch. I love old movies.
    Georgia
    queenvictoria50@aol.com
    Thank you so much for the giveaway

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  53. My favorite Christmas movie is A Christmas Story, it cracks me up every time. I also enjoy the Hallmark movies.

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  54. I love White Christmas, and Miracle on 34th St. Another one I enjoy is Christmas with the Kranks. It's so funny.
    babemomara@att.net

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  55. We watch White Christmas every year, and The Shop Around the Corner.

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  56. I love Christmas stories, and Christmas movies, especially the Classics, and I read them and watch them all year long! My TV stays on the Hallmark Channel, and the Hallmark Movie Channel. :). A few of my favourites are A CHRISTMAS CAROL {I love every rendition, and especially the one with Patrick Stewart}, IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE, THE BISHOP'S WIFE, CHRISTMAS IN CONNECTICUT WHITE CHRISTMAS, and MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET. Thank you for this fabulous chance, i love Charlie and Diesel. Merry Christmas... And Merry reading and writing...

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  57. I love A Christmas Carol and Its A Wonderful Life.
    Lisa
    hseaside5@aim.com

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  58. I love watching Christmas movies! I the contemporary of the Bishop's Wife... The Preacher's Wife with Denzil Washington. I love A Christmas Carol... Many versions including Mickey's cartoon & Scrooged with Bill Murray. Of course, I love watching It's a Wonderful Life on TV, even though we have the DVD.

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