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 Thursday Morning Christmas Wish

Hello, Thursday Morning readers! I’m enjoying my favorite Christmas coffee—right here at home—Sunergos Hearth Blend (a winter blend, think brown sugar, hazelnut & pomegranate). Yum!

This is a very busy week in most of our households. It is especially busy here. Mom’s birthday is the 21st—she’ll be 85. The 21st is also our 44th anniversary. Yes, not only did we get married close to Christmas, but on Mom’s birthday. How cool is that?

Not so great when the holidays come around and you have to hustle—really hustle to fit everything in. The anniversary? Sometimes gets forgotten, or pushed aside until another day or even another month. Not a big deal when you’ve been married a while. But it’s never forgotten or neglected completely because it’s very important to us.

Christmas is right around the corner. If you’ve been watching very many Christmas movies (or reading Christmas stories), you may be in for a let-down. Though some of those films are based on true stories, most of us don’t have the magical Christmases portrayed in those tales. Don’t let it discourage you. If you think about it, you’ll find those magical moments scattered throughout your life.

My prayer for you this Christmas is that you’ll be thankful, whether you have much or little, and that you’ll truly enjoy the season for all the right reasons. I pray for those who are suffering losses that you will know God’s comfort and the comfort of those around you. And remember, Christmas is a season that comes and goes. In a few days, a new year begins. Let the Word of God renew your strength—

…but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.—Isaiah 40:31 NIV

If you especially enjoyed one of this season’s stories, share it with us! Leave me a comment with the title of the movie, where you saw it, and why you loved it. Here’s mine: Christmas Secret (2014) Hallmark. I know it’s an older one, but still my favorite!

 

Doing Nothing Well

I’m really good at nothing. Hello, Thursday Morning friends! I’m so glad you’re here. I’m thinking again. Uh-oh. Right?

You know when someone asks you, “What are you thinking about?” and you say, “Oh, nothing”?

Is it even possible to think of nothing? Or to be thinking of…nothing?

You might think I’m being negative when I say I’m good at nothing, but you’re wrong. I am really good at (doing) nothing. In fact, I excel at it. If not for ole guilt, I’d spend a lot more time doing nothing. Thinking of…nothing.

But guilt keeps me going. Doing everything but nothing. The problem is, I tend to take on too much. You know the feeling? It’s a problem for many of us, especially this time of year. If you’re a mom, it’s magnified. Everything has to be perfect. You want your life to be a Hallmark movie. Or at least a little bit like one.

The Hallmark movies are like reading the condensed version of a novel. You see only the high points and low points and they wrap up quickly into forever love. All the extra stuff that goes on gets cut out. Life is not that predictable.

Yes, there are moments when you get to relax and breathe and enjoy relaxing and breathing. But those moments are B-O-R-I-N-G to everyone except self. Personally, I love those moments of nothing. Maybe because I know they are only scattered here and there throughout my busy, busy days.

But I’ve noticed something very important. If you’re too busy, if you say yes too many times, you may become overwhelmed. And then you’re really good at the negative nothing. You don’t have the time or the patience to be really good at anything. Or, if you do manage to accomplish all those things on your list and/or calendar, you’re probably going to be too tired to enjoy your accomplishments.

Then you’re going to DREAD the holidays because they represent negative things like failure and disappointment.

My advice to you, right now, before it’s too late, is to take a breath. Pause between the question and the answer. “Can you volunteer to do the decorations for the dinner?” “Will you head the committee to spearhead donations for that?” “Oh, and by the way can you also (insert task here)?? You’re just so good at that!”

Take a breath. Pause. Think it through. What will you remove from your list to make room for whatever you’re being asked to do? Maybe the more important question is, what’s your immediate gut reaction to the request? Is it a cringe? Go with that. Don’t wimp out. Say the word. “NO.”

Yes, the holidays come once a year. With good advance planning, you will survive them. If you haven’t made a plan, it’s not too late. Almost, but there’s still time.

Make a list right now, of THE most important things you need to do in order to have the kind of Christmas you really want for your family. Now, include your church family, or those outside your family with whom you are connected.

Next, go back over the list and prioritize the most important things. Keep the little ones in mind (if you have them). What will make their Christmas memorable? Hint: it’s not things. It’s probably time with you. Time, and a smile on your face.

I’m not slapping hands here. I’m reminding myself. My calendar is full and I have regular work and tasks to deal with on top of those. I’m dealing with a sense of dread. It’s too tempting to curl up on the couch with a hot beverage, a blankey, and a holiday movie. I have to remind myself that’s okay once in a while, but not all the time.

Well, coffee’s ready. I’m going to spend a few moments sipping, breathing, and contemplating nothing.

My calendar is full today. And tomorrow. And the next day. But, I’m keeping my eye on the prize of a stellar Christmas celebration.

Have a splendiferous weekend. May you find time to breathe and kick back, if only for a moment.

Help and give without expecting a return. You’ll never—I promise—regret it. Live out this God-created identity the way our Father lives toward us, generously and graciously, even when we’re at our worst. Our Father is kind; you be kind.–Luke 6:35-36 MSG

All I Want for Christmas-Part 1

crown-1299136_1280If I were a beauty pageant contestant, I’d say, “All I want for Christmas…is world peace.”

But I’m not, nor have I ever been a contestant in a beauty pageant.

Most ordinary people want to live a peaceful life. Especially those who have teenagers living in the house.

cat-787733_1280⇐⇐⇐I’m more like this…

…and my list starts with…something entirely different. It’s been a busy year. If you keep up with my blog posts, you may have noticed that.

I’m not sure what happened to bits and pieces of last year. They’ve disappeared entirely from my memory.

  • Fallen through the cracks between the big stuff.
  • Part of my winter, all of my Spring, part of my summer.
  • Gone.

clock-691143_1280So one thing I’d like for Christmas is time. Time to think. Time to remember the stuff that happened in between. Maybe after I finish my latest work-in-progress. It’s due by end of year. I’m nearly there. Nearly finished, nearly at the end of the year.

Yes, that’s the first item on my list. Time.

turkey-1456681_1280Yes, I’ve overdosed on turkey, so if I’m a little woo-z, that’s why. But there’s a reason behind the madness. I promise. I will have a point.

I plan to share another item or two next week. I’m determined to put some fun in December. Smile at a stranger. Share a joke with a friend. Give a gift. Forgive a transgression. Honor those who love you with your time and presence of mind–not just the big lump of your carcass while you peruse Facebook or play video games. Put the electronic devices down (end of rant).

Most people spend more one-on-one time with their fur babies than they do with their human loved ones. 😦

By the way, in my opinion, Thanksgiving and Christmas–entirely too close together. Let me know what you think. See you next week!

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Smaller Servings

VeggieSoupNow that the big dinner is over, I’m back to learning something new. Cooking for two. My tendency is to fill a big pot and cook so much, we have to eat it for days. So I’m training myself to create smaller servings.

legs-434918_1280You can take the girl out of the country … you know that saying. I’ll always be a country girl at heart. I love a piping-hot skillet of cornbread. So I figured out how to make it smaller. I buy a well-known brand of cornmeal that comes in a round box with a recipe on the side. I follow the recipe and combine all the dry ingredients. That’s my “step one.”

Step two – I get out my kitchen scale. I love that thing. You can also use measuring cups, but for what I’m about to do, the scale is easier. I divide the dry ingredients in half. I try to get as close as possible. I bag up one half, label it as “cornbread mix,” and put it aside. Then I finish the recipe with the other half.

I think heating the pan with the shortening in it makes a big difference. You can use an 8″ skillet, an 8″ pie or cake pan–I’ve even used a glass pan–like the one you use for a small batch of brownies. I put half the amount of shortening in the pan (remember you’ve halved the recipe). I have to say here, I’m generous with shortening. I use half butter and half coconut oil.

You can’t halve an egg, so I use the whole thing, then half the milk–pay attention to this one–I tend to pour in the full amount. Yeah, thin batter. Take the hot pan out of the oven and pour most of the melted shortening into the batter and mix it. This is why I’m generous with the shortening. I leave a good layer of it in the pan. Pour the batter into the hot pan (I love the sizzle). Then place the pan back in the oven and leave it there for the required time. By the way, you can also heat the pan on the stove top or the microwave (if it’s glass) to melt the shortening. Handle with care.

I go away and do other things. It seems to take a long time for the stuff to cook, but that’s only because I’m waiting. It’s like waiting for water to boil. Now, don’t burn it, but don’t take it out too soon. In the last couple of minutes, it turns this beautiful, toasty brown. I love that. It has a nice crispy, crunch to it, and the center is moist.

cornbread2If you’re a fan of cornbread mixes, you’re probably wondering why I go to all this trouble. Here’s the reason: because I want to–it’s very satisfying–and I like it better than any mix I’ve tried.

So I guess my last “Thankful” is that I’m cooking for two, not one. We almost lost one this year.

I love learning new things. Actually, I try to make enough to send to work with hubby the next day. So maybe I’m actually cooking for three.

What’s your favorite small recipe? As the Christmas holidays approach, sometimes it’s easier to pick up a meal out, but what if you’re on a budget? I’ve found many things I can cook at home quicker and easier than waiting for someone else to do it. I know the ingredients are quality, and I trust the cook. 🙂

Link to simple cornbread recipe: http://www.quakeroats.com/cooking-and-recipe/golden-corn-bread

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