Monday, December 29, 2014

Briefly, Merrily...

Hope everyone had a lovely Christmas! Regularly scheduled blogging will resume next week - this week Danny is off for the holidays and I'm joining him. It's been a very busy holiday season with a flurry of food, family, and travel, so we're taking a few days to rest up before jumping back into the fray.

In the meantime, I'm pleased to announce that Contest Entrant Tracey Culley has won the 12 Films of Christmas Book Giveaway! Many thanks to everyone for participating, so delighted by the huge response.

Love and blessings!

~ Hillary

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Twelve Films of Christmas, Part I

A few weeks ago, Melissa Tagg and I decided to celebrate our love of Christmas and movies by putting together a blog event combining the two! The idea grew until it became what you're about to read - twelve authors talking about their favorite movies, split into two blogs, and giving away a total of twelve books.

This week, we'll hear from Allison Pittman, Becky Wade, Katherine Reay, Kristin Billerbeck, Kristy Cambron, and Melissa Tagg!

Remember the Night with Allison Pittman

My favorite Christmas movie is a classic—one that not a lot of people have seen. Remember the Night, 1940, stars Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck in a story that’s experienced different incarnations. Stanwyck is a petty thief, arrested on Christmas Eve, and remanded into the custody of the District Attorney until her case can be heard after the holiday. From there, we follow the two on a road trip to his idyllic hometown for a family-centered celebration. Along the way, we get a glimpse into her past, and we understand her choices. This film, though, makes the brave choice of allowing us to understand, but not forgive. Not yet. MacMurray’s character struggles with his attraction, fighting  it with every hooded look, restrained touch, every stoic turn of phrase.
Remember the Night is a film that brings both of its characters to a true moment of crisis. A choice that will challenge what they know to be true and good in the world. What sets this film apart from other Christmas offerings is the fact that you, too, will have to make the same choice. And if you’re like me, the first time you watch it, you’ll be surprised at the direction of your own heart.

In 1989, this movie suited my goofy teenage sense of humor to a T. I remember laughing all the way through it. In those days, I related to the kids in the movie, but nowadays I relate to Chevy Chase's character. I'm the one who feels the desire and pressure to provide a 'perfect' and 'memorable' Christmas for my family. I'm the one whose efforts often bomb. 

It's easy to long for a picture perfect Christmas, isn't it? In trying to achieve it, I'm sometimes tempted to exhaust myself because I want to do it all and I want it all to be wonderful. And in the busy-ness, I can miss the Christ of Christmas.

This year, I'm trying to do less and concentrate on Him more. He's the one who never disappoints. Our expectations can never, never, never measure up to the greatness of His reality. I wish you all a Christmas filled with His peace. God bless! 

I get three movies! The Santa Clause (1994), The Santa Clause 2 (2002) and The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause (2006). Okay, I love these movies. They showcase Tim Allen at his best. I love his Santa’s reluctance then sold-out enthusiasm for the job – and even the delightful mayhem that develops in the 3rd movie as he questions the cost of his unique vocation. 

As for the kids – they’re all delightful. Charlie warms your heart in the 1st movie and his little sister, Lucy, is an absolute charmer in the 2nd and 3rd. And the scenery! I want to live at this North Pole. It’s one of the best visual depictions of this magical place that we all secretly hope (know) exists. Curl up, grab some popcorn and cocoa and enjoy!

It's a tradition at my house to have the 24-hours of "A Christmas Story" running in the ba`ckground as we prepare for Christmas dinner. There are so many memorable parts of that movie that have worked their way into our household vocabulary and my dad is a huge "Jean Shepherd" fan. My dad grew up in the same time frame, and just loves to tell us how true everything in the story is and appreciates the nostalgia. It's a tale that brings my family together and isn't that what the holidays are all about? To appreciate what God has given us? The Ultimate Gift?

Meet Me in St. Louis with Kristy Cambron

I love so many Christmas movies, that it's difficult to choose a favorite. But as a huge classic movie fan, nostalgia is going to win me over every time. The top spot on my favorites list would have to be claimed by Meet me in St. Louisstarring the stunning Judy Garland. The song is iconic. The story is warm and the characters unforgettable. And for this writer gal? It will always remind me of drinking hot chocolate by the fireplace, watching this film with my family while Christmas snow blanketed the world outside our window.
I like to think I’m a pretty nice and even-keeled person, but once a friend told me he thought It’s a Wonderful Life was *gasp* “boring.” I had to work really hard to convince myself not to a) stick my tongue out at him and b) chuck our years of friendship out the window after that one snide comment. 

This should tell you how much I love — nay, adore — the movie It’s a Wonderful Life. It is nostalgic and sentimental and tear-jerking, all things a good holiday movie should be. But it’s also poignant. The moment when Jimmy Stewart finds Zuzu’s petals in his pocket and realizes his mouth’s bleeding…it’s jubilant perfection. When he runs through town yelling, “Merry Christmas, Bedford Falls…Merry Christmas, you wonderful old Building and Loan!” my heart is celebrating along with him. 

Plus, Donna Reed is from Iowa. And that’s happy.

All For a Sister ~ Meant to Be Mine ~ Lizzy & Jane
What a Girl Needs ~The Butterfly and the Violin ~ Here to Stay

Each of today's authors are contributing a book to the giveaway! And as much fun as giveaways are, you know what's also fun? Supporting authors! Each one of the books would make great reading for a Christmas getaway or an ideal Christmas gift. And for the next six, check in next week with Melissa Tagg!

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