How to Write a Christmas Movie

Hello, Thursday Morning readers! The very busy month of November is now upon us. Can you believe it?

Thanksgiving is just a few weeks away and the air is filled with … Christmas music.

Are you a fan of Hallmark Christmas movies? I have to admit, I love watching some of them. Some. Of. Them.

I have to be careful not to overwatch because it eats up a lot of time that should be spent reading, writing, cleaning, cooking, etc.

There are benefits to watching Christmas movies. They can help you prepare mentally for the onslaught that we call “the holiday season.” They provide Christmas decorations so you don’t have to. Honestly, if I didn’t have grandkids, I wouldn’t bother.

I am not a Christmas fanatic. I tend to endure the holidays. Those roots run deep, and I really can’t tell you why.

But, I do enjoy the movies. Maybe I’ll write one someday, so you could call it research. 🙂

A pattern has emerged as I watch, and I’ve decided there must be a checklist involved in writing those things.

At some point in the story the couple:

  • Heads over the meadow and through the woods to cut down a tree (or maybe just the tree lot in town).
  • Puts up the tree.
  • Decorates the tree (may or may not involve the girl falling from a ladder into the guy’s arms).
  • There’s a snowball fight.
  • They build a snowman.
  • They create a gingerbread house, which may or may not involve a contest.
  • They make snow angels together.
  • Ice skating!
  • Enjoy hot chocolate together, often after ice skating or snowman building.
  • The “almost kiss”—that first kiss is always interrupted.
  • The small town they live in has a tree lighting, usually on Christmas Eve.
  • The town Santa is really Santa (in disguise). He knows things no one else could know and is often a matchmaker.
  • There’s mistletoe, often in unexpected places.
  • Snow falls, even in locations where it never snows, like Florida, or southern California (Christmas miracle!).

If I’ve left anything out, please feel free to comment!

And now, just so you’ll know I’m not a total grinch, my favorite Christmas movie among the Hallmark offerings is The Christmas Secret.

The casting is spot-on. I love the story and the small town of Wilsonville and Betty’s Bakery of course. I can almost smell those cinnamon rolls! Wilsonville is also the setting for another Hallmark Christmas movie, The Christmas Note.

Last-minute addition: A brand new movie this year, Two Turtle Doves, moves into my list of favorites. It’s heartwarming and intelligently written. I will be watching that one again.

Are you a reader or a watcher?

Would you rather read a holiday story, or see it in movie form?

What’s your favorite Christmas movie?

Have a blessed weekend!

Hello Halloween Harvest Homecoming

I opened my post and this beautiful white space greeted me. How I love the fresh newness of white space. 🙂

Hello, Thursday Morning and Happy Halloween. I don’t usually celebrate Halloween, but I do hand out candy and smiles to young neighbors. Then I pray for their parents who will have to endure hours of sugar-enhanced wall bouncing.

The last day of October is important to me for two reasons. It’s the beginning of the holiday season. Thanksgiving is just around the corner, closely followed by Christmas and New Year’s. All wonderful opportunities to celebrate with family.

Left-to-Right: Judy, Norma, and Me!

AND it’s my “sister-cousin’s” birthday! Happy Birthday, Judy! This is the day when she joins me in whatever number year we’re in. We’re only a few months apart. I always get there first, of course. *Sigh*

And this is the picture I love to show, one that includes our other “sister-cousin”, Norma. She was our big sister. I loved growing up in a close-knit family where cousins were like brothers and sisters.

You’ll notice I was wearing saddle oxfords and carrying a purse. I was quite stylish at two—or were we three? Whatever, we were cute.

Times have changed. A lot. But, we still love each other, and we’re still cute.

Halloween, Harvest, or Homecoming? However you choose to celebrate, I hope the fun includes family and loved ones.

He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him. — Psalm 126:6

Tomorrow, I’ll be at Inspired Prompt – a multi-author blog dedicated to inspiring writers. I hope you’ll join me there!

 

In God’s Time

How often have I heard that phrase in my lifetime?

What does it mean?

Hello, Thursday Morning readers, and welcome. I hope you’ll join me in a cup of coffee or hot tea, or whatever is your preferred morning beverage.

It’s chilly this week, but the sun is shining. I love this time of year, brief as it is.

We’re nearing the end of October, and that means we’re entering the final couple of months of 2019. Can you believe it?

Another year will end soon, like day’s end as dusk approaches. Then comes the night, filled with twinkling stars and the depth of darkness before the dawn of a new day.

Hope tends to wane in those darkest hours.

When will I see the salvation of the Lord? When will my prayers be answered? How long must I wait?

“In God’s time,” my soul whispers, echoing words from my ancestors over the years. They knew, didn’t they? Those souls who had endured great sorrow, and waited for the dawn when hope would rekindle.

I know life ebbs and flows like the tide. Seasons come and go. Through the good, we rejoice. In bad times, we mourn. In the waiting, we grow impatient.

I stood outside a tiger’s compound at our local zoo and watched as that great creature paced back and forth, watching and waiting. His feral eyes seemed to register the movements of the onlookers. What was he thinking? Did I really want to know?

Sometimes I feel like that tiger when I’m in a time of waiting. My patience wears thin and I’m tempted to give up.

Psalm 13 describes a similar journey as David asks, “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day?”

He goes on for a few more stanzas, then he says, “Consider and answer me, O Lord my God, light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death, lest my enemy say, ‘I have prevailed over him,’…”

David’s plight was much more difficult than anything I’ve endured, but knowing that doesn’t lessen my pain and anxiety. However, his next words raise the shade and allow the light of dawn to penetrate.

“But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me.”

In those last couple of sentences, David lifts his eyes to the light of dawn and praises his way back into hope.

Awaiting God’s timing can be painful, but He provides light to guide us and renews our hope with a timely blessing.

In His time, may God crown your year with His bounty and overflow your path with abundance. [taken from Psalm 65:11]


[Click-to-Tweet] I know life ebbs and flows like the tide. Seasons come and go. Through the good we rejoice. In the bad times, we mourn. In the waiting, we grow impatient. In God’s Time #ThursdayThoughts #encouragement

Annabelle’s Oatmeal Cookies

Drought scarred maple tree and black cat.

Hello, Thursday Morning readers! This morning, I’m looking out at a maple tree that is trying its best to show off, even after forty days straight with no rain. We’ve since had a good bit of rain, but you can still detect the scars of drought on the tree’s leaves.

Can you see the black cat? It belongs to a neighbor, and I suspect it is watching for birds and squirrels at my feeder.

Just in time for Fall, I’m sharing a recipe from Annabelle’s collection. She loves to make these, because her neighbor, Tom Franklin, loves them.

If you’re new here, you may not know who Annabelle is and you may be wondering about it. She’s a sweet, middle-aged lady from the 1950s, who lives in my Kinsman Redeemer series of novels.

What’s so great about this recipe is, you can make the dough and put it in your fridge, then bake them later. You can even freeze the dough. The cookies are thin and chewy, kind of like lace cookies. They are wonderful served with hot tea or coffee. If you’d like a printable recipe, you can download it from my Facebook group page here: Betty Thomason Owens Readers Group.

Annabelle’s Oatmeal Refrigerator Cookies* – an old-fashioned, chewy, oatmeal cookie!

Ingredients:

½ cup lard (I prefer softened butter, but you can also use your favorite vegetable shortening)
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1 egg
1-1/2 tsp. grated lemon rind
1-1/2 tbsp. molasses
½ tsp. vanilla
7/8 sifted flour (that’s ¾ cup + 2 tbsp.)
½ tsp. soda
½ tsp. salt
1-1/2 cups rolled oats

Sift dry ingredients (except the oats) into a bowl and set aside. Combine the first seven ingredients (shortening through vanilla) in a large mixing bowl. Mix thoroughly with a large spoon (you can also use a mixer). Add the sifted dry ingredients and stir well.

Add the oats to the mixture. Using hands, mix thoroughly. Note: Annabelle preferred the hand-mixing method. You can continue with a mixer or stir with a spoon.

Additions: Tom Franklin loves these cookies with raisins, so Annabelle mixes in about ½ cup of plumped raisins (she soaks them in hot water for a few minutes to plump them). You can also add chopped walnuts or pecans at this stage.

Mold the dough into a long, smooth roll about 2-1/2” in diameter. Wrap in waxed paper (or plastic wrap). Chill until stiff. This usually takes about three hours, or you can leave it in the fridge overnight.

Heat oven to 400°

Unwrap dough and using a thin, sharp knife, cut in thin slices 1/8” or 1/16” thick. Place slices on a greased baking sheet. Note: I prefer to use parchment paper on my baking sheets. It’s just easier! And I use a serrated electric knife to slice it. It works best if you have left the dough in the fridge overnight.

Bake until lightly browned (about 8 – 10 min.). Annabelle’s note: Watch these closely, you don’t want to burn them.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies

[You can slice these thicker to make larger cookies, but they really spread, so leave lots of room in between]

*This recipe is adapted from one found in the 1950 version of the Betty Crocker cookbook.