Dec 28, 2010
Navidad 2010 ...Old traditions and New
About the time I spent my first Christmas with Susan and her young kids, I was introduced to Frank Capra’s movie “It’s A Wonderful Life”. Susan recalls phoning me at my studio downtown and urging me to come home to watch it on TV. From that day on, the Yuletide has included a viewing of “Wonderful Life”. Interestingly I was not alone in discovering the old b&w film around then.
When the film was made in 1946, it received mixed reviews and did not even return its budget at the box office. While it did get 5 Oscar nominations, it was shut out by the year’s big winner, another sentimental classic, “The Best Years of our Lives”
That his film had this renaissance came as a welcome surprise to Frank Capra and others involved with it. "It's the damnedest thing I've ever seen," Capra told the Wall Street Journal in 1984. "The film has a life of its own now and I can look at it like I had nothing to do with it. I'm like a parent whose kid grows up to be president. I'm proud… but it's the kid who did the work.
Anyway in our house, “Wonderful Life” became our annual staple. For several years it played numerous times leading up to Dec. 25, so much so that Michael memorized the bulk of the dialogue. Our Mike, who has earned degrees in theater and voice teaching does a great Jimmy Stewart and the other characters too.
Right on schedule, “Wonderful Life” showed up on the Dec 24 TV menu. For a while, as baby Amelia was going to sleep, we played it with the sound down, and Mike did the voice-overs.
Overnight, Santa found his way to our little grass shack and filled all our stockings. Every good little girl and not so little person got little toys and candies. Mike & ReBecca got a taste of Mexico via pineapple lollipops that come with spicy chili powder (!); Susan got a nice selection of diabetic sweets and cookies (our local Chedruai was well stocked in these.) I missed getting the traditional Terry’s chocolate orange but filled my belly with many other sweets during morning coffee (only at Xmas.) I was lucky enough to get my annual year-end magazine -- this year Susan found an English language GQ with “Men of the Year”.
Pippin was recruited to be an elf but did not look too thrilled about that.
It is never too early to start with media awareness, don’t you think? Amelia first enjoys some quality video with her mom.
A little later, she goes through the magazine with her dad. “Yes, that is Stephen Colbert, one of GQ’s Men of the Year. Can you say ‘truthiness?’...Yes, I know they should be called Persons of the Year, and they will be when you grow up.”
We (Susan) cooked an 18lb turkey with all the trimmings. It was so nice to sit down with the start of our third generation. This picture was taken just before we sat down and popped our xmas crackers and put on our funny hats. Months ago when we were still up north, Susan made our Xmas plum pudding. Then a couple of days ago, we sought out some real New Zealand butter and she prepared the hard sauce. Even though we were predictably stuffed, the hot pudding was brought flaming to the table to be topped with the brandy-soaket hard sauce. (Hmnn, booze...It’s only once a year!)
Living with a toddler’s energy is certainly part of the “new”. We had dinner around 5 and then after we ate and did a basic clean up it was quiet time again. Normally we would be playing some boisterous board games -- well, maybe next time. On the other hand, we grandparents are getting older every year, and early quiet times and bed times are more and more welcome.