Hallmark Movies & Memories

First of all, Happy Thanksgiving to each and every one who reads or follows ChocolateCastles! After burning one iron skillet of cornbread this morning, paying more attention to a Hallmark movie than to the oven, I was reminded of so many Thanksgivings, waking up to the smell of onions & celery being cooked in a cube of butter, getting ready to be added to the cornbread that had been sitting out for 2 days, drying. Isn’t it amazing all the memories which come flooding back, thru familiar scents or sounds?

This morning, as I prepared for Eric, our son in law, to come over to brine the turkey for smoking, my mind began to just reminisce over so many past holidays.
What is the first thing each year that brings back certain memories to you? Is it music, food, special family members that you gather together during the holidays?

For some reason, maybe because I’m getting old and allow myself to sit and watch more movies than ever before, the memories have come so much more this year than before. As we sit each night (yes, even Frosty sits with me and watches this year) and turn on the Hallmark channel, the old fashioned ways they seem to gravitate towards in spending Christmas made me take notice. (Notice I didn’t say “sit up and take notice” as usually by the time we sit down to watch, I’m half laying down but still sitting up enough to hold a cookie and a glass or cup of tea) Why do these movies make us cry? Why does our hearts twinge every time they climb up on a trailer to go on a hay ride? Do they ever get enough Christmas cookies or sick of hot chocolate?
When they walk around the beautiful old fashioned little towns, laden with snow, singing Christmas carols, why do we tear up? It finally dawned on me today. That is the Christmases we truly dream of. That our Christmases have become so much about displaying the perfect designer Christmas tree or having the latest new set of Christmas dishes from Pier One. And yes, I’m as guilty as the next little elf that is standing in line at Hobby Lobby buying even more decorations because the 20 boxes that we already have are not enough. And I am really guilty of that. Is much of our time around this time of year spent standing in line to purchase what will be a perfect gift for a friend or loved one? Wonder if they might enjoy us treating them to a movie or lunch instead of a gift? What if our time to be with them was appreciated more than a new sweater or gadget?
As I sat there this morning watching yet another Hallmark movie, where they were putting popcorn on strands of string and making stars out of sticks and placing them on the tree before passing out cut out cookies (that were not store bought), it became clear to me that that is the kind of Christmas that touches the heart, at least it does mine. In striving for our “perfection Norman Rockwell Christmas, I have lost my sense of simple, yet meaningful holidays.
Maybe it’s my age, maybe it is just the Christmas music that is already on all over our house. This year, because so much of our “stuff” is already packed and ready to be moved 2 days after Christmas, we did not decorate, nor are we shopping like previous years. We are too busy packing for the move. But it does seem like we are enjoying the cooking and the movies a little more this year. Maybe its because I cannot be concerned about getting the house looking like the perfect Christmas backdrop.
All these thoughts got me to thinking of ways to bring back some of the old traditions. So Thursday, we are passing around a little bowl with each person’s name on slips of paper. Everyone will draw out a name. Then, they have one week to make a homemade ornament for the name which they drew out of the bowl. We will have dinner and present the homemade ornaments to the recipients. We are also playing games after dinner before sitting down to ginger cookies and hot chocolate to watch Christmas Vacation, which we use to watch every year.
The movies have inspired me. Our place cards this year are clear ornaments which are filled with hot chocolate mix, mini marshmallows and chocolate chips. They can take these home to hang on the tree to use when they sit one night to watch a movie.
It was so exciting for some of our kids to text us this week and tell us that they want their own Christmas names like Randy and I have. Years ago, we changed our names the week of Thanksgiving to Frosty and Noel. We changed our Voice Mail to “Hi you have reached Frosty and Noel, I’m baking cookies and Frosty’s Christmas shopping at the mall, when we get through, we will give you a call.” That began probably 10 years ago and we still have friends who call us Frosty and Noel all through Christmas. So when our kids began to want this, well….can I just say that this mom’s heart teared up as if Paula Deen had tasted one of my cakes and declared me her new best friend. That same day, I texted the rest of our kids to ask them if they wanted to participate and all but one couple agreed. And if you know our family at all, you know the ones who said, “mom, you are kidding, you know I just can’t do that” and then quickly changed the subject. So here are our new family Christmas names:

Christi and Tim are now Candy Cane and Buddy the Elf

Cam and Mandy are Jolly and Holly

Jodi and Eric are Snowflake and Sparky

Shannon and Jamin are Shanaclause and Jingle

So there you have it folks, we are on our way to making our own Hallmark Movie!

If you see us on the Hallmark Channel, you might want to have a Kleenix handy. I think when we all start to sing Frosty the Snowman gathered around our tree (with the strands of marshmallows because we ate all the popcorn, )that we just bought down at the Christmas tree lot, sipping hot chocolate from Starbucks, and nibbling on Little Debbie Gingerbread cookies, it might just bring a tear to your eye!!!

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