Home for Christmas

I’m going to begin this piece with a few funny bits I remember from a couple of late-night TV hosts.

“I was driving through LA the other day and I saw an adult book store with a sign on the door. The sign read: Open all day, Christmas day.

“Does anybody ever wake up Christmas morning and say to themselves, ‘I’d love to look at some filthy magazines today. I wonder if anything’s open?” – Jay Leno

“Remember when you first got your Christmas tree home? Don’t put the screws on the stand into the tree too tight. Put a little sugar in the water, and keep it hydrated. Then… the day after Christmas… “Get that fire trap outta here!” – Jay Leno

Okay, last one.

“What does Christmas look like at my house? I’ll tell ya. I get up really early, I get really drunk, knock the tree over, and start a small electrical fire.” – David Letterman

I love those bits!

 

Philadelphia, PA – 1930s

The Christmas season was always a magical time growing up in our house. When my father was a kid he loved Christmas and this carried on throughout his life. He was the architect of the best Christmases any kid could imagine.

But when he was a kid I suspect his Christmases weren’t all that bright. His father was sort of disconnected from his family. Although an honorable man of principles, he was more interested in his work and hanging at the bar with his buddies. Not a drunk, but enjoyed drinking and adult fun instead of spending time with his wife and two sons.

At Christmas, he would hand his wife money and tell her to get the boys whatever they wanted. Not a lot of money, but enough to get maybe a couple of sets of toy trains and some other various trinkets. he just wasn’t that into family or Christmas.

His son on the other hand who would eventually become a father to me and my three sisters was determined to change all of that.

Philadelphia, PA – 1950s

My parents were married for 5 years before any of the kids appeared in their lives. They made a big deal about Christmas. (There is even a home movie somewhere that he shot of them preparing and celebrating Christmas together. We should probably have those videos converted to digital files so they can live online forever.) I remember in this one home movie he shot it was my mom pulling boxes of decorations and goodies out from under a bed.  He edited it so it looked like she was pulling an endless amount of stuff from under the bed. I liked how he didn’t simply document the Christmas season he made a fun little movie about it with his wife.

Philadelphia, PA – 1960s-Present

One of my earliest memories of Christmas was my sisters and I as little kids standing at the top of the steps in our pajamas. My mom would give the signal and we’d all slowly descend the steps carrying our stockings. What you couldn’t see was my father filming the whole thing in 8mm. He had a rack of really bright lights set up so he could get a quality shot. (All of the cameras and film were low lux back then)

Here we all come down the stairs squinting because the lights were so incredibly light. It was like something out of the film Close Encounters! We’d walk across the living room and try in earnest to get up on our tiptoes to hang our stockings over the fireplace on the mantle. We’d all smile and wave still squinting like mad. My mother would be holding my youngest sister in her arms and hang her little stocking for her.

This went on for years. My dad loved to document all the holidays with his trusty movie camera. I don’t think any of the other kids in the neighborhood have the massive catalog of films that my family has about family events.

(That’s me in 1966)

One of the main components of the Christmas season was putting the toy trains up. My father had a wooden platform in the basement with tracks nailed to it. He would gather some old orange crates out of the garage and set them up in the corner of the living room. The platform would sit upon it and then the Christmas tree would be placed on it in the corner.

Then he’d bring up a couple of his model trains and we’d play with them and run them around the platform. He had little houses, cars, and people to complete the village. It was great because you only got to play with these specific toys the month before Christmas. So it was a cool pre-holiday treat. My sisters and I would run the trains and play for hours with these little people in their town in the days leading up to the big day.

Christmas carols and holiday music would play throughout the house, relatives would visit and usually, my grandmom would come and stay for the week leading up to Christmas. They would give her my room and I’d sleep on a cot in my sister’s room. This was fine because this way the kids were all together as Christmas approached and we could all talk about it. What we had on our lists, stuff we hoped we’d get, and just vibe with the season.

My mother would bake these glorious butter cookies from a recipe she found in a magazine. To this day they are my favorite cookies on earth. Thankfully my middle sister has been able to replicate that recipe and make cookies that look and taste exactly like mom used to make. I love them. each year she gives me a Tupperware container full of them and it takes me three months to slowly consume them all.

I remember as we got a little older we’d help my mom make the cookies. I think my older sister would help my mother mix the batter, my middle sister would roll them out, I would cut them into shapes and my baby sister would decorate them with sprinkles. I know my youngest sister is going to read this but I’m going to say it anyway. Once when she was maybe 2 years old I remember her standing on the chair at the end of the table and decorating the cookies and she suddenly sneezed.

“Good job! You just decorated the cookies!”

“Ewww!”

Poor kid. She was just a baby and didn’t even know what she did! That story still circulates the table at annual holiday gatherings.

As usual, I was a disaster in school. So my dad had taken it upon himself to sort of home school me during the early 70s. I still went to school, but he would give me books and make me read them and then test me on the subjects. It was torture for me back then, but I learned so much about so many aspects of the world that many of my peers don’t know even to this day. He even would assign me poetry to memorize and recite to him after I’d learn it. You’d think verse would be a little easier for me to memorize word for word but try to read, and understand, The Tyger by William Blake!

One Christmas one of his assignments was for me to read and memorize “A Vist from St. Nicholas” by Clement Clarke Moore, and I did it! I memorized the whole thing and recited it word for word for him. Even though this felt like some sort of extended punishment from my everyday life, it wasn’t. He was exposing me to great literary works and building the neurons in my brain for better recall. He knew I had a good mind, he just didn’t want me to waste it.

Anyway, Christmas was always a magical time in our home each year. The anticipation was nearly unbearable. My middle sister and I would conspire to figure out ways to sneak downstairs early Christmas morning with a flashlight and take a look at what Santa had left for us. This was always met with inquiries from my other sister, “Well, what did you see down there?”

My father and sisters and I would trim the tree and my mom would sit in her chair and direct us as to where each ornament should go. My grandmom would be there giggling and sipping eggnog.

When some of us were old enough to realize the truth about Santa Claus we took it upon themselves to do something my father referred to as “rooting”. This was when one of the kids would look under the pool table or in a closet for potential future Christmas presents. My dad quickly caught on to this practice and make sure everything was gift-wrapped immediately upon acquisition of the gift.

Once he even stuck a little postcard between the door of a closet and the molding near the upper hinge of the door. If anyone opened the door, the card would fall and he would know some little elf was “rooting”. So he would simply move the presents to another secret location.

Watching all the great Christmas shows on TV only added to the excitement of the season. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, The Little Drummer Boy, Frosty the Snowman, and Santa Claus is coming to town were all wonderful, just to name a few!

Christmas morning would finally arrive and we’d all head downstairs to see the bounty of gifts that old St. Nick had dropped off. Each child had a designated area for their presents around the living room. Each kid went to their spot and started to rip into the wrapping paper. My parents would sit back, sip their coffee, and just smile.

You had to take a break after the main presents and stop and eat breakfast before ripping into your stocking. There were more goodies in each one of those! Sometimes something wonderful, like a watch or a piece of jewelry for the girls.

What set my parents apart from many families is, they shopped for Christmas all year round. So they never had to stress about the hustle and bustle associated with any last-minute shopping issues. They were done and wrapped months before Christmas day ever arrived. They were so organized and such great planners.

Thanks to my mom and dad every Christmas was unique and incredible in its own right. There were always some special gifts that you really wanted and some unexpected delights that appeared each year. This family tradition continued on into our twenties down the shore in Wildwood, NJ when we moved there in 1979.

Christmas was bigger and better than ever. He had not one but two completely decorated trees in the house. One downstairs in the dining room and the other one upstairs in the front window of the house. The trees always had to be Fraser firs because they were the bushiest and smelliest trees money could buy. (No dropped needles on the floor!)

My father would have mini lights running along the ceiling down the hallway just to keep the Christmas vibe going throughout the house.

It would be a couple of days before Christmas and he’d suddenly make this statement each year. “You know what today is?”

“What?”

“It’s the eve… of Christmas Eve.”

This became part of our mythology through the years and someone would always say, about a week before Christmas… “You know what today is?”

“What?”

“It’s the eve, of the eve, of the eve, of the eve, of the eve, of the eve of Christmas Eve!”

Yea…we’re a Christmas crazy family.

We would exchange gifts between the kids and my parents on Christmas eve. I don’t remember when this started, but it added to the holiday energy because you got that extra night of opening presents even before the main Christmas day event! We would stack them on a card table in the living room and sometimes one of the kids would be sniffing around them wondering what was in them.

My mom put up a sign and rested a whiffle ball bat against the table. The sign stated that if you were caught touching the presents on the table you’d get “the bat”. (This was all in fun, but we had that thing there every year)

Even though by then my dad was into his 60s, he’d be sitting on the sofa next to me with his finger under the wrapping paper on one of his gifts. “Is it my turn yet?” he’d exclaim. He loved Christmas so much!

My first sister picked up the torch of the Christmas spirit in the 90s. She still hosts a holiday party every December at her house and it’s wonderful! The food is great and the company is always amazing. I remember going to her house back in the 90s and my parents were still alive and there could be a few uncles and aunts there, and the rest of us. They were the oldest people in the room. The senior members of our tribe. But as time has passed, I looked around the room and saw my daughter and all the nephews and nieces, and now my sisters and I are the old people in the room!

Time slips away so fast.

This is another one of those instances where it’s difficult to put into words what our Christmases were really like. It was more of a feeling.

You just had to be there.

My mother and father have been gone for many years, but Christmas continues to live on in the hearts of my sisters and me. My first sister has continued to have her annual holiday party every year for decades and we are all so grateful for her.

Here we all are now!

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

You can check out my books here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

Should You Ask Your Partner To Spend The Holidays With You? Experts Weigh In

If you only started dating someone this year, you may be wondering whether you should ask them to spend the holidays with you or not. While the holiday season can bring you and your partner much closer together, is can also give your relationship some added stress. Since it’s going to be your first holiday season as a couple, you never know which way it’s going to go. With the holidays being right around the corner, it’s about that time to discuss your plans especially if you’re thinking of asking your partner to spend the holidays with you. But is your relationship actually ready for it this year?

“The holidays are stressful for everyone,” Ashley Campana, a matchmaker with Lisa Clampitt Matchmaking, tells Bustle. “Multiply that by two people together for the holidays, a dash of family, and a sprinkle of expectations, and it’s a likely scenario that the stress level will be higher than it would be alone.”

There’s no set time frame for how long you should be dating someone before you spend the holidays with them. As dating coach Anna Morgenstern, tells Bustle, “It’s less about how long you’ve been with your partner and more about how far the relationship has progressed.”

Every relationship moves at its own pace. While inviting your partner to come home for the holidays can seem like a harmless idea, navigating the holiday season in a new relationship can be really challenging. Here are some things you may want to consider first, according to experts.

1. Is Your Partner Ready To Meet Your Family?

Inviting your partner to spend the holidays with you may involve meeting your family for the first time.

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“If you just started dating, the last thing you want is your 92-year-old grandmother asking the both of you when you are getting married and reminding you that by your age, she had already delivered a child,” Dr. Sanam Hafeez, a neuropsychologist who specializes in relationships, tells Bustle. “No new relationship needs that pressure, as much as we love grandma.”

According to her, meeting the family is without a doubt the largest challenge of spending the holidays with a partner. There’s always that stress to impress, which can cause anxiety in the most confident of people. If your holiday tradition includes having a large family gathering or there are major cultural differences, it can be a little overwhelming. You want to make sure that your partner is ready and willing to handle whatever gets thrown their way.

2. Is Traveling In Your Partner’s Budget?

A 2018 Experian survey found that Americans spend an average of $930 on holiday travel. “New relationships walk the line of being new but committed, so holiday traveling can be a challenging aspect because of the expenses,” Hafeez says. Your partner may want to spend the holidays with you, but it’s important to be realistic. According to Hafeez, someone may ask themselves if they can really justify spending hundreds of dollars to travel, especially if the relationship is still pretty new. If you know that your partner is struggling financially, or if they’re saving up to buy something big, you may want to wait until next year.

3. Is Your Relationship Mature Enough?

You don't need to date someone for a long time before asking them to spend the holidays with you.

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There’s no set amount of time you should be dating someone before you decide to take them home for the holidays. Some people know they’re meant to be together after a month, and some people take years to figure that out. According to Hafeez, you can’t measure the maturity of a relationship in days or months. But you can assess it by asking yourself this one question: Am I proud to be with this person? “You can be happy with a new relationship but may not be confident enough to bring your partner around the family,” Hafeez says. When you’re confident in the status of your relationship and you know that your partner is going to stick around when things get tough, you’re ready to spend the holidays together. If not, that’s OK. “It’s completely valid to give yourself more time before bringing your significant other to the family holiday, especially if you have a birthday coming up a few months later,” Hafeez says.

4. Do You See A Future With Your Partner?

It’s nice to have someone you can bring along to your big holiday gathering. But the holiday season can have a way of making new relationships feel like they have to move faster than they’re actually ready for. According to Morgenstern, you should only introduce someone to your family that you truly see a long-term future with. Spending the holidays with someone can be a pretty big deal. “If you’re not completely sure about them, asking them to come home with you will mislead them with your intentions,” Morgenstern says. “Make sure you’re on the same page about your relationship before deciding to spend the holidays together.”

5. What Does Spending The Holidays Together Mean To Your Partner?

Talking about your holiday plans can strengthen your communication skills.

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“Spending the holidays together is generally an intimate activity that communicates you care about someone and intend to deepen the relationship,” marriage counselor Brent Sweitzer, LPC, tells Bustle. “But don’t assume it means the same thing to your partner as it does to you.”

Some people may see this as the next big step in the relationship, and others might see it as just another thing you can do together. It’s important to talk to your partner about your feelings and expectations. It can even open up a discussion about your family’s traditions and unspoken family rules. “This will set in place good communication habits for both of you about expectations (particularly around the holidays), regardless of whether the relationship becomes a fully committed one,” Sweitzer says.

As nice as it would be to spend the holidays with your partner, it’s important to consider if your relationship is actually ready for it first. If you feel like it’s the right time, talk to your partner. Having an open discussion with your partner can help you decide what’s best for your relationship this year.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

You can check out my books here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

The Best Christmas Movies Of All Time

From Home Alone and Elf to classics like Miracle on 34th Street, I’ve made my list of great holiday films and checked it at least twice. Now, to all you nice boys and girls out there, we present the Best Christmas Movies ever!

Christmas has come to represent different things to people over the years, and the movies here reflect that in kind. If you’re traditional and feeling nostalgic, you’ll be pleased to see where It’s A Wonderful Life and Holiday Inn made it on our list of top holiday films. If this time of the year reminds you of sitting around the TV, eagerly awaiting those annual specials, look out for A Charlie Brown Christmas and How the Grinch Stole Christmas. There’s horror (Black Christmas), comedy (Trading Places), horror and comedy (Gremlins), and even a superhero covered in tinsel somewhere (Batman Returns). For those with an independent streak to celebrate, check out Tangerine and Carol. Meanwhile, Netflix has made great strides in the Kris Kringle quadrant with The Christmas Chronicles and Klaus. And if Christmas means traveling somewhere you don’t want to be, stuck in a building with people you don’t like, have we got the ultimate movie for you: Die Hard! Ho ho ho, now we have a complete list of great Christmas movies.

Wondering how we put this Christmas movie list together? Every movie on the list is Fresh and plays around with the spirit of Christmas and the holidays as a central theme. Then we sorted them all by our ranked formula, which factors in the movie’s release year its number of reviews, to make the ultimate list of holiday films that melted even the most cynical critics’ hearts.

And now you’re ready to enter a wonderland of cinematic history, with the 58 Best Christmas Movies ever!

 

#58
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: The 1947 holiday classic Miracle on 34th Street is transplanted to the 1990s with few changes in this family-oriented remake…. [More]
Directed By: Les Mayfield

 

THE PREACHER’S WIFE (1996)
60%

#57
Critics Consensus: Solid performances and a steady directorial hand help The Preacher’s Wife offer some reliably heartwarming – albeit fairly predictable – holiday cheer.
Synopsis: An angel wonders if love can be Heaven on Earth in this family-themed romantic fantasy. Rev. Henry Biggs (Courtney B…. [More]
Directed By: Penny Marshall

 

#56
Critics Consensus: Viewers seeking a fresh holiday viewing option — or those simply in the mood for Santa Kurt Russell — should find The Christmas Chronicles well worth a yuletide stream.
Synopsis: THE CHRISTMAS CHRONICLES, a holiday adventure from producer Chris Columbus (“Home Alone”, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”) and director… [More]
Directed By: Clay Kaytis

 

LOVE ACTUALLY (2003)
64%

#55
Critics Consensus: A sugary tale overstuffed with too many stories. Still, the cast charms.
Synopsis: All of London is in love — or longing to be — in Four Weddings and a Funeral writer Richard… [More]
Directed By: Richard Curtis

 

KRAMPUS (2015)
66%

#54
Critics Consensus: Krampus is gory good fun for fans of non-traditional holiday horror with a fondness for Joe Dante’s B- movie classics, even if it doesn’t have quite the savage bite its concept calls for.
Synopsis: When his dysfunctional family clashes over the holidays, young Max is disillusioned and turns his back on Christmas. Little does… [More]
Directed By: Michael Dougherty

 

Critics Consensus: While Christmas Vacation may not be the most disciplined comedy, it’s got enough laughs and good cheer to make for a solid seasonal treat.
Synopsis: This is the third in the “National Lampoon” series about the Griswold family. In this sequel, the Griswolds must deal… [More]

 

Critics Consensus: Still raunchy, still irreverent, and still hit-and-miss, this Harold & Kumar outing also has a Christmas miracle: The audience gets to see the sweeter side of the duo.
Synopsis: Following years of growing apart, Harold Lee (Cho) and Kumar Patel (Penn) have replaced each other with new friends and… [More]
Directed By: Todd Strauss-Schulson

 

#51
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A 1983 animated version of the Dickens classic, with Mickey Mouse as Bob Cratchit and Scrooge McDuck as the miserly… [More]
Directed By: Burny Mattinson

 

THE NIGHT BEFORE (2015)
68%

#50
Critics Consensus: The Night Before provokes enough belly laughs to qualify as a worthwhile addition to the list of Christmas comedies worth revisiting, even if it isn’t quite as consistent as the classics.
Synopsis: Ethan (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), Isaac (Seth Rogen) and Chris (Anthony Mackie) have been friends since childhood, and for a decade, their… [More]
Directed By: Jonathan Levine

 

HOME ALONE (1990)
65%

#49
Critics Consensus: Home Alone uneven but frequently funny premise stretched unreasonably thin is buoyed by Macaulay Culkin’s cute performance and strong supporting stars.
Synopsis: Home Alone is the highly successful and beloved family comedy about a young boy named Kevin (Macaulay Culkin) who is… [More]
Directed By: Chris Columbus

 

FROSTY THE SNOWMAN (1969)
73%

#48
Critics Consensus: Frosty the Snowman is a jolly, happy sing-along that will delight children with its crisp animation and affable title character, who makes an indelible impression with his corncob pipe, button nose, and eyes made out of coal.
Synopsis: This special release celebrates the 45th anniversary of an animated Christmas classic, Frosty the Snowman. First airing on CBS, the… [More]

 

THE BEST MAN HOLIDAY (2013)
71%

#47
Critics Consensus: The Best Man Holiday manages honest laughs out of broad humor, and affects convincing drama from a deeply conventional plot.
Synopsis: After nearly 15 years apart, Taye Diggs (television’s Private Practice), Nia Long (Soul Food), Morris Chestnut (Kick-Ass 2), Harold Perrineau… [More]
Directed By: Malcolm D. Lee

 

SCROOGED (1988)
71%

#46
Critics Consensus: Scrooged gets by with Bill Murray and a dash of holiday spirit, although it’s hampered by a markedly conflicted tone and an undercurrent of mean-spiritedness.
Synopsis: A darkly comic and surreal contemporization of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, this effects-heavy Bill Murray holiday vehicle from 1988… [More]
Directed By: Richard Donner

 

THE SANTA CLAUSE (1994)
71%

#45
Critics Consensus: The Santa Clause is utterly undemanding, but it’s firmly rooted in the sort of good old-fashioned holiday spirit missing from too many modern yuletide films.
Synopsis: Television sitcom star Tim Allen made his big screen debut with this light, family-friendly holiday comedy. Allen stars as Scott… [More]
Directed By: John Pasquin

 

BLACK CHRISTMAS (1974)
71%

#44
Critics Consensus: The rare slasher with enough intelligence to wind up the tension between bloody outbursts, Black Christmas offers fiendishly enjoyable holiday viewing for genre fans.
Synopsis: Black Christmas is an effective, frightening above average slasher movie with a good cast and a frightening, surprise ending. Barb… [More]
Directed By: Bob Clark

 

THE REF (1994)
72%

#43
Critics Consensus: Undeniably uneven and too dark for some, The Ref nonetheless boasts strong turns from Denis Leary, Judy Davis, and Kevin Spacey, as well as a sharply funny script.
Synopsis: Caroline and Lloyd (Judy Davis and Kevin Spacey) are a married couple constantly at each other’s throats, masters at crafting… [More]
Directed By: Ted Demme

 

Critics Consensus: The poignant humanity on display in Joyeux Noel makes its sentimentality forgivable.
Synopsis: Scottish, French and German troops declare a spontaneous Christmas Eve truce in the trenches of World War I in this… [More]
Directed By: Christian Carion

 

HAPPY CHRISTMAS (2014)
76%

#41
Critics Consensus: Intelligent, well-acted, and satisfyingly low-key, Happy Christmas marks another step in prolific filmmaker Joe Swanberg’s creative evolution.
Synopsis: When Jenny (Anna Kendrick), a hard partying 20-something moves in with Kelly (Melanie Lynskey), a budding novelist, her film director… [More]
Directed By: Joe Swanberg

 

#40
Critics Consensus: It may not be the finest version of Charles Dickens’ tale to grace the screen, but The Muppet Christmas Carol is funny and heartwarming, and serves as a good introduction to the story for young viewers.
Synopsis: Brian Henson, the son of Muppet founder Jim Henson, took over directing duties after the untimely death of his father… [More]
Directed By: Brian Henson

 

#39
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: It’s the season of joy, peace, and goodwill… unless you live in Bailey Downs. Last Christmas Eve, two teens came… [More]

 

LET IT SNOW (2019)
81%

#38
Critics Consensus: Comfortably cliché, Let It Snow wears its influences on its sleeve, but works anyway thanks an excellent ensemble and just the right amount of holiday cheer.
Synopsis: When a snowstorm hits a small midwestern town on Christmas Eve, a group of high school seniors find their friendships… [More]
Directed By: Luke Snellin

 

WHITE CHRISTMAS (1954)
77%

#37
Critics Consensus: It may be too sweet for some, but this unabashedly sentimental holiday favorite is too cheerful to resist.
Synopsis: This Christmas classic starring Bing Crosby is a romantic tale that takes place in a Vermont lodge- where it is… [More]
Directed By: Michael Curtiz

 

#36
Critics Consensus: Anna and the Apocalypse finds fresh brains and a lot of heart in the crowded zombie genre – not to mention a fun genre mashup populated by rootable characters.
Synopsis: A zombie apocalypse threatens the sleepy town of Little Haven — at Christmas — forcing Anna and her friends to… [More]
Directed By: John McPhail

 

#35
Critics Consensus: While You Were Sleeping is built wholly from familiar ingredients, but assembled with such skill — and with such a charming performance from Sandra Bullock — that it gives formula a good name.
Synopsis: This offbeat romantic comedy has some rather dark underpinnings that add, rather than detract from the fun. It is the… [More]
Directed By: Jon Turteltaub

 

BAD SANTA (2003)
79%

#34
Critics Consensus: A gloriously rude and gleefully offensive black comedy, Bad Santa isn’t for everyone, but grinches will find it uproariously funny.
Synopsis: The Christmas season just got a lot less joyous in this very dark comedy. Willie T. Stokes (Billy Bob Thornton)… [More]
Directed By: Terry Zwigoff

 

Critics Consensus: The Man Who Invented Christmas adds holiday magic to the writing of A Christmas Carol, putting a sweetly revisionist spin on the story behind a classic yuletide tale.
Synopsis: The Man Who Invented Christmas tells of the magical journey that led to the creation of Ebenezer Scrooge (Christopher Plummer),… [More]
Directed By: Bharat Nalluri

 

BATMAN RETURNS (1992)
80%

#32
Critics Consensus: Director Tim Burton’s dark, brooding atmosphere, Michael Keaton’s work as the tormented hero, and the flawless casting of Danny DeVito as The Penguin and Christopher Walken as, well, Christopher Walken make the sequel better than the first.
Synopsis: In the second of the blockbuster Batman films, the legendary hero does battle against the mysterious Cat Woman and the… [More]
Directed By: Tim Burton

 

THE BISHOP’S WIFE (1948)
84%

#31
Critics Consensus: The Bishop’s Wife succeeds thanks to the strength of winning performances from a stellar cast, which includes Cary Grant and Loretta Young.
Synopsis: A harassed bishop’s prayers are answered when an angel (Cary Grant) is sent from heaven to help him raise money… [More]
Directed By: Henry Koster

 

ELF (2003)
84%

#30
Critics Consensus: A movie full of Yuletide cheer, Elf is a spirited, good-natured family comedy, and it benefits greatly from Will Ferrell’s funny and charming performance as one of Santa’s biggest helpers.
Synopsis: For his sophomore stab at directing, actor/writer/director Jon Favreau (Swingers, Made), took on this holiday comedy starring Saturday Night Live-alum… [More]
Directed By: Jon Favreau

 

#29
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: War hero Dennis Morgan becomes the object of a publicity stunt staged by magazine publisher Sidney Greenstreet. The corpulent print… [More]
Directed By: Peter Godfrey

 

A CHRISTMAS CAROL (1951)
85%

#28
Critics Consensus: The 1951 adaptation of Charles Dickens’ timeless classic is perhaps the most faithful film version — and Alastair Sim’s performance as Scrooge is not to be missed.
Synopsis: Widely considered to be the definitive of the many film versions of Charles Dickens’ classic novel is this 1951 British… [More]
Directed By: Brian Desmond Hurst

 

Critics Consensus: A sharp black comedy about a chaotic family holiday gathering, A Christmas Tale is always involving, thanks to an impressive ensemble cast.
Synopsis: The devastating reverberations of a profound tragedy echo through generations of a long-suffering French family in this emotional family drama… [More]
Directed By: Arnaud Desplechin

 

GREMLINS (1984)
85%

#26
Critics Consensus: Whether you choose to see it as a statement on consumer culture or simply a special effects-heavy popcorn flick, Gremlins is a minor classic.
Synopsis: “Don’t expose him to bright light. Don’t ever get him wet. And don’t ever, ever feed him after midnight.” This… [More]
Directed By: Joe Dante

 

TRADING PLACES (1983)
87%

#25
Critics Consensus: Featuring deft interplay between Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd, Trading Places is an immensely appealing social satire.
Synopsis: The “nature-nurture” theory that motivated so many Three Stooges comedies is the basis of John Landis’s hit comedy. The fabulously… [More]
Directed By: John Landis

 

BETTER WATCH OUT (2017)
89%

#24
Critics Consensus: Carried by its charismatic young cast, Better Watch Out is an adorably sinister holiday horror film.
Synopsis: This holiday season, you may be home, but you’re not alone… In this fresh and gleefully twisted spin on home-invasion… [More]
Directed By: Chris Peckover

 

TOKYO GODFATHERS (2003)
90%

#23
Critics Consensus: Beautiful and substantive, Tokyo Godfathers adds a moving — and somewhat unconventional — entry to the animated Christmas canon.
Synopsis: Tokyo Godfathers, the acclaimed holiday classic from master director Satoshi Kon (Paprika, Perfect Blue), returns to theaters in a brand-new… [More]
Directed By: Satoshi KonShôgo Furuya

 

KISS KISS, BANG BANG (2005)
86%

#22
Critics Consensus: Tongue-in-cheek satire blends well with entertaining action and spot-on performances in this dark, eclectic neo-noir homage.
Synopsis: A murder mystery brings together a private eye, a struggling actress, and a thief masquerading as an actor…. [More]
Directed By: Shane Black

 

Critics Consensus: Rare Exports is an unexpectedly delightful crossbreed of deadpan comedy and Christmas horror.
Synopsis: It’s the eve of Christmas in northern Finland, and an ‘archeological’ dig has just unearthed the real Santa Claus. But… [More]
Directed By: Jalmari Helander

 

A CHRISTMAS STORY (1983)
89%

#20
Critics Consensus: Both warmly nostalgic and darkly humorous, A Christmas Story deserves its status as a holiday perennial.
Synopsis: In the 1940’s, in the town of Hammond, 9-year-old Ralphie wants one thing for Christmas — an official Red Ryder… [More]
Directed By: Bob Clark

 

LITTLE WOMEN (1994)
92%

#19
Critics Consensus: Thanks to a powerhouse lineup of talented actresses, Gillian Armstrong’s take on Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women proves that a timeless story can succeed no matter how many times it’s told.
Synopsis: This newest version of Louisa May Alcott’s tender novel is considered to be among the best as it chronicles the… [More]
Directed By: Gillian Armstrong

 

EDWARD SCISSORHANDS (1990)
90%

#18
Critics Consensus: The first collaboration between Johnny Depp and Tim Burton, Edward Scissorhands is a magical modern fairy tale with gothic overtones and a sweet center.
Synopsis: Tim Burton’s Edward Scissorhands opens as an eccentric inventor (Vincent Price) lovingly assembles a synthetic youth named Edward (Johnny Depp)…. [More]
Directed By: Tim Burton

 

KLAUS (2019)
94%

#17
Critics Consensus: Beautiful hand-drawn animation and a humorous, heartwarming narrative make Klaus an instant candidate for holiday classic status.
Synopsis: When Jesper (Jason Schwartzman) distinguishes himself as the postal academy’s worst student, he is stationed on a frozen island above… [More]
Directed By: Sergio Pablos

 

Critics Consensus: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is a yule-tide gem that bursts with eye-popping iconography, a spirited soundtrack, and a heart-warming celebration of difference.
Synopsis: This stop-motion animagic version of the classic Christmas tale adds a bit of a twist when Rudolph encounters an abominable… [More]
Directed By: Maury LawsLarry Roemer

ARTHUR CHRISTMAS (2011)
92%

#15
Critics Consensus: Aardman Animations broadens their humor a bit for Arthur Christmas, a clever and earnest holiday film with surprising emotional strength.
Synopsis: The 3D, CG-animated family comedy Arthur Christmas, an Aardman production for Sony Pictures Animation, at last reveals the incredible, never-before… [More]
Directed By: Sarah SmithBarry Cook

 

DIE HARD (1988)
94%

#14
Critics Consensus: Its many imitators (and sequels) have never come close to matching the taut thrills of the definitive holiday action classic.
Synopsis: It’s Christmas time in L.A., and there’s an employee party in progress on the 30th floor of the Nakatomi Corporation… [More]
Directed By: John McTiernan

 

REMEMBER THE NIGHT (1940)
100%

#13
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: With a deft blending of humor, sentimentality and romance, this Preston Sturges-penned comedy centers on the romance between a caring… [More]
Directed By: Mitchell Leisen

 

BABES IN TOYLAND (1934)
100%

#12
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Two bumbling apprentices to the master toymaker of Toyland try to raise money to help Little Bo-Peep and her sweetheart… [More]

 

TANGERINE (2015)
96%

#11
Critics Consensus: Tangerine shatters casting conventions and its filmmaking techniques are up-to-the-minute, but it’s an old-fashioned comedy at heart — and a pretty wonderful one at that.
Synopsis: A working girl tears through Tinseltown on Christmas Eve searching for the pimp who broke her heart. (C) Magnolia… [More]
Directed By: Sean Baker (II)

 

CAROL (2015)
94%

#10
Critics Consensus: Shaped by Todd Haynes’ deft direction and powered by a strong cast led by Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, Carol lives up to its groundbreaking source material.
Synopsis: In this adaptation of the novel “The Price of Salt” by Patricia Highsmith, Therese (Rooney Mara), a young department-store clerk… [More]
Directed By: Todd Haynes

 

MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS (1944)
100%

#9
Critics Consensus: A disarmingly sweet musical led by outstanding performances from Judy Garland and Margaret O’Brien, Meet Me in St. Louis offers a holiday treat for all ages.
Synopsis: Sally Benson’s short stories about the turn-of-the-century Smith family of St. Louis were tackled by a battalion of MGM screenwriters,… [More]
Directed By: Vincente Minnelli

 

LITTLE WOMEN (2019)
95%

#8
Critics Consensus: With a stellar cast and a smart, sensitive retelling of its classic source material, Greta Gerwig’s Little Women proves some stories truly are timeless.
Synopsis: Writer-director Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird) has crafted a Little Women that draws on both the classic novel and the writings… [More]
Directed By: Greta Gerwig

 

Critics Consensus: The Nightmare Before Christmas is a stunningly original and visually delightful work of stop-motion animation.
Synopsis: Despite having recently presided over a very successful Halloween, Jack Skellington, aka the Pumpkin King, is bored with his job… [More]
Directed By: Henry SelickTim Burton

 

Critics Consensus: How the Grinch Stole Christmas brings an impressive array of talent to bear on an adaptation that honors a classic holiday story — and has rightfully become a yuletide tradition of its own.
Synopsis: Chuck Jones’ animated version of the classic Dr. Seuss book How the Grinch Stole Christmas originally aired on television in… [More]
Directed By: Chuck JonesBen Washam

 

#5
Critics Consensus: Deftly directed by Ernst Lubitsch from a smart, funny script by Samson Raphaelson, The Shop Around the Corner is a romantic comedy in the finest sense of the term.
Synopsis: The Shop Around the Corner is adapted from the Hungarian play by Nikolaus (Miklos) Laszlo. Budapest gift-shop clerk Alfred Kralik… [More]
Directed By: Ernst Lubitsch

 

HOLIDAY INN (1942)
100%

#4
Critics Consensus: With the combined might of Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire, and Irving Berlin working in its favor, Holiday Inn is a seasonal classic — not least because it introduced “White Christmas” to the world.
Synopsis: Music by Irving Berlin, songs by Bing Crosby and dancing by Fred Astaire all add up to a really delightful… [More]
Directed By: Mark Sandrich

 

#3
Critics Consensus: Irrefutable proof that gentle sentimentalism can be the chief ingredient in a wonderful film, Miracle on 34th Street delivers a warm holiday message without resorting to treacle.
Synopsis: Edmund Gwenn plays Kris Kringle, a bearded old gent who is the living image of Santa Claus. Serving as a… [More]
Directed By: George Seaton

 

#2
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Christmastime is here. Happiness and cheer. And for Peanuts fans everywhere, it just wouldn’t be Christmas without this classic holiday… [More]
Directed By: Bill MelendezPhil Roman

 

#1
Critics Consensus: The holiday classic to define all holiday classics, It’s a Wonderful Life is one of a handful of films worth an annual viewing.
Synopsis: This is director Frank Capra’s classic bittersweet comedy/drama about George Bailey (James Stewart), the eternally-in-debt guiding force of a bank… [More]
Directed By: Frank Capra

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How To Deal With Sadness Around The Holidays, According To Experts

“Hey, We’re all here for you.”

If there were ever a time of year that energy hangs heaviest and most potently on humanity, it would probably be the holiday season. If you feel sad during the holidays, even knowing that it’s a common experience doesn’t always make the ache dissipate. But there are simple things you can do to cope that might make the twinkling lights and constant carols easier to bear if you’re in the midst of a rough time internally.

“Holidays may serve as a strong reminder that things in our life are not quite where we want or expect them to be,” Dr Victoria Chialy Smith, a licensed clinical psychologist in private practice, tells Bustle. “We may feel a wide variety of emotions including longing, regret, anger, sadness, and depression.”

Smith says the unresolved feelings the holidays can evoke are understandable. Perhaps you’ve experienced loss that feels particularly hard this time of year, or the financial expectations of the season leave you feeling you stressed and self-critical. Smith says to first and foremost give yourself permission to feel the sadness and heavy feelings. There is no need to get on your own case about not being full of cheer and serenity.

“Meet all of these difficult emotions with compassion,” Smith says, and think about doing that by staying grounded in the present when you start getting a wave of old memories, regrets, longings, or difficult emotions. “Try to stay connected to the peace of the present moment by tuning into your breath or what is immediately going on around you,” she says.

Dr. Jo Eckler, a chronic illness coach, clinical psychologist, and author of I Can’t Fix You Because You’re Not Broken: The Eight Keys to Freeing Yourself from Painful Thoughts and Feelings tells Bustle something similar. Don’t squash down the feelings you’re having, and don’t feel the need to act like your blood is made of glitter when you’re actually feeling bummed. You don’t have to pretend.

Eckler also points out that this time of year is “a ripe time for the comparison trap.” Disengage from compare and despair behaviors, though, friends, be it on social media, in conversation, or just in your own head as you walk through the holiday markets, feeling a bit glum.

“We see images of families laughing together in handmade matching PJ’s and frolicking, or super lovey-dovey couples,” Eckler says. “And even though we might have good families or partners ourselves, it’s hard to live up to a posed picture.”

 

As for the expectation to get on board the holiday activity train? Well, especially if parties, gatherings, and celebrations feel triggering, there is certainly no need for you to be the belle of each holiday ball. But that said, isolation is something you want to avoid when you’re dealing with sadness or symptoms of depression, Dr. Rebecca Cowan, of Anchor Counseling & Wellness, LLC, tells Bustle.

“When people become sad and depressed, they tend to want to isolate, and this only worsens these symptoms,” Cowan says. “Balance is key, and so is implementing a self-care plan.”

That means things like sleeping, eating enough, sharing with friends, doing things that make you feel relaxed and happy, and Cowan says, getting some sunlight. At least 30 minutes a day.

Counselor Jessica Eiseman, based out of Texas, tells Bustle that it can also be helpful to begin to create your own traditions, to make the holidays something you can enjoy. She brings up the term “un-holidays.”

“Maybe you don’t fit into traditional standards or expectations for the season,” Eiseman says. “Maybe you don’t celebrate at all or you take a trip by yourself. The most important piece being that you create some meaning based on what you enjoy and brings a little peace, if not happiness.”

Eiseman also says that if you aren’t already, visiting a therapist can be really helpful. And if the feelings seem to be worsening, or they are affecting things like your appetite and ability to sleep, do reach out for professional help as soon as possible.

And remember, it’s really OK to feel the heaviness this time of year. It’s palpable, and we are sensitive creatures! Just do what you can to take care of you. Consider it a holiday gift to yourself.

 

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Christmas – 2018 and Beyond – Part 5 – Duncan

I’m home.

I’ve an incredible Christmas with my entire family. I’m emotionally spent.

I’m on my laptop writing and watching Christmas shows. Doing what I love doing

I’m sipping vodka club and settling into blissful night of my own satisfaction.

 

It’s 10pm and I’m well into my zone.

My phone rings and it’s Duncan. My very best friend of 20 years who explains that he’s in Old City right now.

I’m half in the bag at this point and can’t believe he’s in the city.

He wants me to come out and hang.

Let’s be clear.

 

If I’m home and done work and don’t have to see anyone or have a date… once I’m home I’m done.

It’s like a vault. Once I’m down to the T-shirt and shorts and slippers there is no turning back.

Ever.

I have said that if Alessandra Ambrosio was knocking at my door to come out and hang I would blow her off.

I love her and have met her, (See: Alessandra Ambrosio) and have the pictures to prove it and I wouldn’t come out.

But I love Duncan and this asshole is some how in the city so I have to do it.

God Dammit.

Ha wants me to come to Amada for free drinks. For fuck’s sake. I don’t care about that. I spent the whole day with my family. I’m tired. There is no way I can come out and hang with you and your girlfriend and cousin.

Why have I not gotten on any notice on this arrival?

 

15 minutes later  I’m in a Lyft and on my way to Amada.

 

For Duncan I’ll do it. We have history. Deep history. I have to see him.

I arrive. It’s great to see him. The last time we were together was when the Eagles won the Superbowl ‘

 

I love Duncan.

 

There is also a welcome addition. His girlfriend Misa.

I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about her.

I was so happy to meet her, and she is an absolutely lovely person that Duncan should probably marry. That’s how good she was. I thought she’d be like Yoko between John and Paul.

 

But Misa was wonderful. I wish only happiness for these two.

Later that night after I pounded a couple of free Manhattens, I told him that Misa was so amazing he should marry her or I would.

He seemed shocked.

I told him I was drunk and not to try to marry anybody.

 

But I can’t wait to see Duncan in February for the Superbowl.

 

EAGLES ARE IN THE PLAYOFFS!

 

We are so going to hang at the Ritz Carlton and sip expensive cocktails and nosh on some savory snacks.

 

I love Duncan and I’m so happy this fucker is still in my life!

 

Happy Holidays, one and all!

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

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