Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The Worst Movies of 2015

There is a certain letdown after the holidays.  The presents have all been opened, the family has dispersed and it's depressing to realize yet another year has gone by, and you still haven't lost that 20 pounds, learned how to speak Outer Mongolian or written the Great American Novel.

But another big letdown is when you sit down to watch a film (or worse yet, go out to a theatre and pay your hard-earned money), and it turns out to be a stinker.  For movie lovers, this is especially bad. 

So Rosy the Reviewer is on the case.

Here are some really bad films that you need to avoid unless you like to torture yourself.  I'm embarrassed to say that I even saw these.  And these are the ones I saw. I am sure there are more really bad films from 2015 that I haven't seen (thank the lord), so be careful out there.  As for these, don't say I didn't warn you.

 
My Worst Movies of 2015 List





Taken 3



The first "Taken (2008)" film was fine.  Liam got to show his action hero chops.  "Taken 2 (2012)" was pushing it a bit, and you know how I feel about sequels.  But "Taken 3?" C'mon people, no one is even taken in this film...except maybe Liam, as in "taken the money and running!"




Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2



There have only been two movies in my whole movie-going life that I could not sit through.  One was "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas" - and the other was this mess.  I like Kevin James and the first "Mall Cop" had its silly charms, but this one was just unwatchable unless you have a thing for chubby guys riding around on segways.






Hot Tub Time Machine 2



Like Paul Blart, the first "Hot Tub Time Machine" had some laughs. The concept was funny and it had John Cusack in it, for god's sake.  Cusack wisely declined this sequel which should have never come back from its time traveling.  I'm even embarrassed to say I watched this thing.




No Escape



I don't know why, but it seems every comedian and comic actor needs to prove they he can be dramatic.  This is Owen Wilson's stab at it and, Owen, let me give you a little advice.  Stick to comedies.  If you look at the movie poster, that is the entire movie right there.  Owen running around trying to escape with his family with that ever-present open mouth expression that looks like he is going to say "Dude..." at any moment.





Vacation



For me, remakes are as egregious as sequels. Why remake a movie that was perfectly fine the first time around?  So take my advice here.  See the original "Vacation (1983)."  If you see this one, you will be the one needing a vacation!






Jupiter Ascending



When I reviewed this, I said that Eddie should give his Oscar back.  I'm still mad at him for his performance in this stinker.  Channing Tatum's pecs can't even save it!





The D Train



Jack Black can be really funny and James Marsden is really handsome and this movie could have gone somewhere except for the "ew" factor which ruined the whole thing.  This film gives a whole new slant to the "buddy film." And it didn't really even make sense. I couldn't even bring myself to review it. I don't want to reveal the spoiler in case you don't believe me and are bound and determined to see this thing.  But if you want to know, you can read this synopsis.






Our Brand is Crisis



This deserves to be on the Worst List for the title alone.




Pan



The critics almost unanimously "pan'd" it.  Get it?  C'mon, I have to have a little fun.  Reliving these turkeys is depressing enough!





Get Hard



How can a movie starring Kevin Hart and Will Ferrell NOT be funny?  Well, it wasn't.

 
 
What clunkers did YOU see in 2015?

 
 
 
Thanks for Reading!

 
See you Friday

for my review of the new movie

 
"Joy"

and 

The Week in Reviews

 
(What to See or Read and What to Avoid)
  
 and the latest on
  
My 1001 Movies I Must See Before

 I Die Project."
 
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Friday, December 25, 2015

"Creed" and And The Week in Reviews

[I review the new film "Creed" and the DVDs "Paper Towns" and "Max."  The Book of the Week is "Voracious: A Hungry Reader Cooks Her Way Through Great Books."   I also bring you up-to-date with "My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die" with "Sherman's March."]

Creed



Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) is back but he is a lot older and a little punch drunk but decides to help train the son of his old pal, Apollo Creed.

The film begins with a young Adonis ("Donnie") Johnson getting into a fight at a reform school.  Later, he is visited by a woman who turns out to be Apollo Creed's wife, Mary Anne (Phylicia Rashad).  Though Adonis is the product of an illicit affair between Adonis' mother and Apollo, Mary Anne wants to help him and takes him in.

Fast forward to the adult Adonis (Michael B. Jordan) winning a fight in a ring in Mexico.  But our Adonis is a man of many talents.  He is also a wonderkund at a securities firm in Los Angeles and he is up for a promotion.  But he turns down the promotion.  He wants to be a fighter. Now he just needs someone to train him. 

Donnie tries to get into the acclaimed Delphi Boxing Academy, but they turn him down so he travels to Philadelphia to find his father's old rival, Rocky Balboa.  Rocky is now running "Adrian's," an Italian restaurant named after his late wife ("A-D-R-I-A-N!!!!!")  He doesn't want to get back into the boxing game, but after being hounded by Donnie, he relents and takes Donnie to the Front Street Gym and introduces him to all of his boxing cronies. Donnie proves himself by winning a big fight and gets the nickname "Hollywood Donnie Johnson."

At the same time, the light heavyweight champion of the world, "Pretty" Ricky Conlan (Michael Bellew) is in a bit of trouble back in the UK and facing a prison term.  He wants one final big fight and when word gets out that Donnie is Creed's son, they seize the opportunity, but only if Donnie will change his name to Donnie "Hollywood" Creed.  Donnie doesn't want to do this because he wants to prove himself as his own man, but he takes the bait and is lured into the fight of his life.

Rocky also discovers he has a fight of his own to win, too, so the film becomes a big fight movie as Donnie fights for his career and a poignant, sensitive film as Rocky fights for his life.

Of course we can't have a film starring a handsome young leading man without a love interest and that is provided by the lovely Tessa Thompson, who plays Donnie's songstress neighbor.

Michael B. Jordan first came to my attention with his wonderful performance in "Fruitvale Station," and he continues to impress here. This is just the beginning for him.

But the real heart of this film is Sylvester Stallone in one of the best performances of his long career.  I remember the original "Rocky" and it was a revelation.  I loved it and had never seen anything like it.  Stallone wrote that script and was a starving actor, but he refused to sell the script unless he could star in the film.  He held out for that and Sylvester Stallone emerged as a huge star winning an Oscar for his performance, a nomination for his screenplay and the film won an Oscar for Best Picture.  Since then he was able to parlay that into Rocky sequels and he became an action hero in the "Rambo" films, but he was never really credited again with being a wonderful actor. 

Well, 39 years after the first "Rocky" film, Stallone is once again on top with this wonderful, sensitive and nuanced performance of a man on the other side of life mentoring his younger self. It harks back to the poignancy of that first Rocky film, bringing Stallone full circle.  He is sure to get an Oscar nomination for this performance. Though you don't need to have seen all of the prior Rocky films to appreciate this film, fans of the series will love the homages paid to the first film.

Everyone here is first rate as is the direction by Ryan Coogler (who also co-wrote the script with Aaron Covington).  Coogler worked with Jordan on "Fruitvale Station" and once again produces a powerful film that will stay with you.

Rosy the Reviewer says...this is a great fight movie but you don't need to like fight movies to love this film.  One of the best of the year...and bring your hanky.

 

Some DVDs You Might Have Missed
(And Some You Will Be Glad You Did)!

 
***Now Out on DVD***




Paper Towns (2015)


Quentin (Nat Wolff) has always had a crush on his beautiful young neighbor, Margo (Cara Delevingne), and when she disappears, he and his friends set out to follow her clues and find her in this coming of age tale.

What teen-aged boy wouldn't want to live next door to Cara Delevingne, a hot model of the moment, who plays Margo and makes her feature film debut in a starring role in this quirky teen mystery story based on the young adult novel of the same name by John Green? 

When Margo moves in next door to Quentin in Orlando, they are young tweens and strike up a friendship, riding their bikes and waving at each other through their bedroom windows.  But when they turn into teens, Margo is popular and Quentin not so much, so they grow apart, though Quentin has never quite gotten over Margo. 

One night Margo climbs into his bedroom window and lures Quentin out into the night for an adventure.  Well, actually some revenge on her boyfriend who is cheating on her. They shave the boyfriends eyebrows in his sleep (a bit far-fetched that he wouldn't wake up) and mess up his car.  Quentin has this awesome one night with Margo...and then she disappears.

But Quentin things she has left clues, so Quentin and his friends go on a scavenger hunt in a "Goonies-like" adventure to try to find Margo.  They take a road trip to track Margo down and in so doing, learn about themselves in their last weeks of high school.

A paper town is a fake town that mapmakers would put on a map to protect their work so if someone copied it the fake town would be there and they would know it was their work.  Here it also stands for the ephemeral journey of growing up and away from youth as Quentin searches for Margo in a paper town.  Margo is a metaphor for chasing a dream - an unattainable one.

Based on the YA book by John Green who also wrote "The Fault in Our Stars," this story is less predictable that that one.  Screenwriters Scott Neustadter  and Michael H. Weber have adapted Green's book into a screenplay that has some of the usual teen coming-of-age clichés but ultimately captures teenage angst in a way that will even resonate with adults.

Delevinge is a lovely movie presence and does a good job as the unattainable girl.  She reminded me of Cybill Shepherd's character in "The Last Picture Show."  Wolff has a dorky charm that is needed for Quentin and the two of them together make a nice contrast because Quentin is a "follow the rules" kind of guy and Margo is a "break all of the rules" kind of girl. Quentin needs to learn to break a few rules if he is going to find himself.


Rosy the Reviewer says...a teen film with a difference that adults will also enjoy.



Max (2015)



Even dogs get PTSD.

Max is a bomb sniffing dog in the military posted in Kandahar, Afghanistan.  He does reconnasance for his military buddies and then lets them know it's safe to proceed. 

Kyle, a soldier from Texas, is Max's handler and together they find an enemy arsenal.  Later there is some discrepancy in the number of weapons discovered and the number recovered.  Could someone be stealing the weapons?  Yes, and Kyle is suspicious of his friend, Tyler, and confronts him.

On a later mission, Max tries to warn his squadron of danger but is told to keep moving and Kyle and he are hit by a suicide bomber. Kyle is killed and Max is traumatized.  At Kyle's funeral, Max is brought in and he goes straight to Kyle's coffin and lies there. 

Kyle's younger brother, Justin (Josh Wiggins), is a teenager who loves video games and makes a bit on the side pirating them.  Max and Justin bond but Max's trauma has made him suspicious and vicious toward others so Justin's parents decide that he needs to be euthanized but Justin begs his parents to save Max.

Let the healing begin.

We have a disaffected, angry teen and a vicious traumatized dog.  What do you think is going to happen?

Justin meets a girl, Carmen (Mia Xitlali, who is a dead ringer for Winnie Cooper) who is interested in helping Justin bring Max back from his injuries.  Slowly Justin and his friends sensitize Max...and SHE sensitizes Justin.

Then Kyle's friend, Tyler (Luke Kleintank), shows up.  He has been mysteriously discharged from the army. He ingratiates himself with Justin's Dad, Ray (Michael Haden Church), and Ray hires him to help him with this storage business.  Max hates Tyler. Mmmm...I wonder why.

When Ray asks Tyler how Kyle died, Tyler blames his death on Max.  He tells Ray that Max turned on Kyle. Now Ray hates Max and wants to kill him.  Justin sets out to clear Max by going to the Dogs of War organization to find out if Max would have done such a thing.  He sees a video of Max's training and realizes Max could never turn on his trainer.  He realizes that Tyler has lied. 

Tyler is not a nice guy.  Remember those missing guns?  Well, Tyler has a little cottage industry going selling guns to bad guys and when Justin and Max suss him out, Max has to fight off a pack of rottweilers.  Max ends up in the hospital and is set to be euthanized but in a spectacular prison break escapes, reminiscent of the old Rin-Tin-Tin days.

Ray also finds out that Tyler is a bad guy but it's a bit too late, and Tyler kidnaps him, so Justin, Max and Justin's friends set out to track them down and save Ray.

This is a fun little family film reminiscent of "Stand By Me," but with a dog.  And believe it or not, the kid actors are quite appealing.  Maybe kid actors are finally growing on me.

Rosy the Reviewer says...it's not "Old Yeller," but it's an easy to digest family film especially for kids and dog lovers. 
 




***My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project***



268 to go!

Have YOU seen this classic film?




Sherman's March (1985)



What started out as a documentary on General Sherman and the lasting effects of his march through the South during the Civil War, turns into something decidedly different when filmmaker Ross McElwee's girlfriend breaks up with him.

Ross McElwee wanted to make a film about William Tecumseh Sherman and the lingering effects Sherman's March had on the South.  As the documentary begins, McElwee is living in Boston but right before he plans to head back home to the South, his girlfriend breaks up with him.  This event devastated him and changed the direction of his film.

The subtitle of this film is "A Meditation on the Possibility of Romantic Love in the South during an era of nuclear proliferation."

It seems that when Ross's romantic life is in disarray, he is haunted by dreams of a nuclear holocaust.

When he returns home, Ross's family rallies around him and tries to fix him up. He meets and visits a series of young women who he makes love to with his camera but in reality never even gets to first base.

Pat is an aspiring actress who lets him film her doing her exercises to get rid of cellulite.  Hilarious, especially when she tells him she isn't wearing any underpants.  Pat is a bit of a nut.  He follows her to Atlanta where she tries to meet Burt Reynolds, who is filming there. 

Then there is Claudia, a religious girl who has ties to a survivalist group who are waiting for the end of the world.

Jackie is a protester and then there is Charlene.  She had all kinds of advice for Ross and had no hesitation sharing it.

That's what makes this film special.  McElwee was able to disarm people to such a point that they spilled their guts.

McElwee intersperses this cinema verite film with historical tidbits about Sherman and while in Atlanta contrasts the modern South with what happened during Sherman's siege.  He continues to make those parallels throughout the film and it becomes clear that McElwee feels some parallels with Sherman and his own life.  Sherman was plagued by anxiety, which it seems McElwee also was (remember those dreams about a nuclear war?) and ended up a tragic figure, which I don't think happened to McElwee, though he feels pretty tragic during the making of this film.

Why it's a Must See: "Ross McElwee's [film] could be seen as the Citizen Kane (1941) of the diary film genre...Like Kane, it was hailed as something utterly new in American cinema...McElwee originally set out ot make a film about the lingering effects of the South's defeat in the Civil War, but a break-up with his long-time girlfrirend...found his return home becoming equally an attempt to find romance...Over the course of the film, he embarks on a few tentative attempts to create a relationship...His voice-over commentary becomes increasingly self-critical, until in an exceptionally poignant moment he finally wonders aloud whether he's filming his life or filming so he'll have a life...It may look 'simple,' a kind of glorified home movie, but what makes it art is McElwee's generous spirit, good humor, and remarkable candor."
---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"

For much of the film, we never see Ross, but just hear his voice which is amusing in its deadpan delivery.  When we finally do see him, his likeness to Sherman is noticeable.  Must be the beard. 

This film is not for everyone, but I find cinema verite fascinating.  Sometimes real life is more entertaining and riveting than fiction.  Just as Sherman marched through the South during the Civil War, this is McElwee's socio-cultural march through the South in the 1980's. Speaking of which, this film was made 30 years ago. I would love to know what happened to the women he interviewed.

This is a fascinating journey that won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival in 1986 and is one of the films inducted into The U.S. National Film Registry.  My only criticism would be the length.  Two and a half hours is too long, even for me.

Rosy the Reviewer says...a fascinating depiction of life in the South during the 1980's and the quest for love.



***Book of the Week***





Voracious: A Hungry Reader Cooks Her Way Through The Great Books by Cara Nicoletti (2015)



Recipes inspired by classic books.

Nicoletti is a butcher, a cook and a writer and says that "I fell in love with cooking through reading...I connected deeply to the characters in my books, and cooking the foods that they were eating seemed to me a natural way to be closer to them, to make them as real as they felt to me."

She was a retiring type who struggled through middle school and the losses and changes that life deals us.  Reading and cooking helped her connect to the world.  Her grandfather was a butcher so she grew up around food and when she went to college, she earned money working in restaurants.  She started throwing literary dinner parties and wrote a literary recipe blog called "Yummy Books."

Here Nicoletti shares 50 recipes from her 50 favorite books, starting in childhood and moving through her adolescent and college years and finally to adulthood. In addition to the recipes, Nicoletti also shares her thoughts about each book and how that book affected her.

We have the "Double Chocolate Walnut Sundae" from the Nancy Drew books (she thought Nancy was too perfect); Pippi Longstocking's Buttermilk Pancakes (she thought Pippi was exhausting); Stuffed Avocadoes from "The Bell Jar;" and how could she NOT have "Crostini with Fava Beans and Chicken Liver Mousses" from "Silence of the Lambs?"  There is also jelly donuts from "A Confederacy of Dunces," brown butter crepes from "Gone Girl" and Red Wine Rosemary Bread from "The Odyssey" and much more.

Rosy the Reviewer says...a delightful read for foodies and literary types alike.  I wish I had thought of this idea and written this book myself!

 
 
For those of you who celebrate Christmas,
 
Merry Christmas!


 

Thanks for Reading!

See You Tuesday for

"The Worst Movies of 2015"
 


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Check your local library for DVDs and books mentioned.


Next time you are wondering whether or not to watch a particular film, check out my reviews on IMDB (The International Movie Database). 

Go to IMDB.com, find the movie you are interested in.  Once there, click on the link that says "Explore More" on the right side of the screen.  Scroll down to External Reviews and when you get to that page, you will find Rosy the Reviewer alphabetically on the list.
 
NOTE:  On some entries, this has changed.  If you don't see "Explore More" on the right side of the screen, scroll down just below the description of the film in the middle of the page.  Find where it says "Reviews" and click on "Critics." Look for "Rosy the Reviewer" on the list.
 
Or if you are using a mobile device, look for "Critics Reviews." Click on that and you will find me alphabetically under "Rosy the Reviewer."

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Musings about Christmas Days and Memories Past

This is the time of year that the memories come.
 
I wrote about my Christmas memories a couple of years ago ("A Baby Boomer's Christmas Eve Memories"), but I thought I would do it again, just because I can. 
 
So this is a bit of a recap and a bit of an update and also a musing on what makes for wonderful holiday memories.  If you read that first one, I hope you will enjoy some nostalgia again and if you didn't, welcome to my world!
 
 
For great holiday memories...
 
 
First, ya gotta have some snow!
 
 
I grew up in the Midwest and there was nothing more magical than snow falling on Christmas Eve and waking up to a white Christmas.  And don't think snow in the Midwest is a given.  I can remember snow storms in November and snow storms in February (sometimes March, too) but Christmas remained dry.
 
It doesn't snow much in the lowlands of Western Washington so I was happy when it did.  The picture above was a view out our front window and the picture below the view out from our bedroom - our first Christmas in Washington. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
If you celebrate Christmas, ya gotta have a tree!
 
 
 
 
 
 
My mother was very particular about how the tree should look, especially with those silver icicles that were so popular back when I was young.  I think she meant well by letting my brother and me help decorate the tree, but when we started to throw the icicles onto the tree to see who could get them the highest, she couldn't handle it.  We were banned from tree trimming. 
 
When I became a mother, I had a similar experience. I  loved my children and wanted them to participate in decorating the tree, but they just didn't do it the way I wanted it done.  So it became my provenance.  Remember that thing about be careful of what you wish for? 
 
It has now become a gigantic chore.  This Christmas, Hubby and I did all of the decorating in one day.  He does the lights and I do the trees and other decorations inside the house.  It almost killed us! By the time I had twisted the 100th red velvet bow on the tree, I was ready for a glass of wine -- or three!  I would have given anything for those kids to be here to help me with the tree, no matter what the outcome! 
 
 
 
Ya gotta have stockings -- and for the dogs too!
  
 
 
Rosy, Chuck, Mildred, Freddy and Tarquin.  And let's just say I didn't name my children Mildred, Freddy and Tarquin.
 
 
 
Ya Gotta Have Holiday Cards
 
Though it has practically become a thing of the past, I still send out Christmas cards. 
 
Sending out Christmas cards is a way to keep in touch with friends who live far and wide.  I still do it, though we don't send family photos, and I do NOT believe in the long bragging letter about what little Mabel did in the school play and how great little Robby's report card was. 
 
What I DO believe in is sending out cards with a personal message to your friends telling them what they mean to you or sharing a happy memory.
 
 
Here is the Christmas card photo for my first Christmas.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
I can't believe my mother wore the same hat for her Christmas card photo two years in a row! 
 
And what is my sister doing in this photo below?  She looks like she is practicing to be a femme fatale.  
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
Our collie, Echo, finally got to be in the picture and I guess my brother was into Marlon Brando in "The Wild One!" 
 
 
 
Do you notice a trend with these family Christmas card photos? 

In every one of them, one of us has his or her face covered or is looking down or giving a strange expression.  I have a feeling my Dad set up his camera to take these, and I guess film must have cost a lot then, because it doesn't look like he did many retakes!  There is not one perfect picture in the bunch.  I guess that's also a metaphor for families, don't you think?
 
Also, I always thought my mother had beautiful handwriting, which you can see here.  Did you know the schools do not teach cursive writing anymore?  That is another trend. Why are we OK with that?  Pretty soon our kids will be signing their names with an "X."
 
 
 
Speaking of trends...
 
 
Dolls
 
 
My first doll.
 
 
 
 
 
 
You can see that dolls played a big part in my life. 
 
I was 12 when I got my first Barbie (they had just come out.  That's how old I am), and I really wanted that doll canopy bed!  If I had that Barbie now, I would be rich! Long story and I digress. I don't think 12-year-old girls play with dolls anymore.  They are playing with boys!  It was a more innocent time when we didn't have cell phones and the Internet. 
 
 
 
 


If you celebrate Christmas, going to see Santa with your little one is a must!
 
 
But not THIS Santa!
 
 


It's an absolute must, if you celebrate Christmas, to take your child to see Santa.  However, NOT a Santa like this one!  You can see from my expression I am scared to death.  I can see my toes curling up in my snow boots from here. Where did they get that guy? That's more like what nightmares are made of, not happy memories!


 
 
 



Now THAT'S what a proper Santa should look like.


  
Then the next grandchild came along and off we went to see Santa again.  This guy gets a lot of work!

 







 


 

This year the youngest grandson didn't share my love of this "proper Santa," so only the oldest shared his Christmas list with Santa.


But the two of them enjoyed their Paw Patrol characters from Glammy and Papi!

  
 
And ya gotta take photos!
 
 
 
 
 
 
My Dad loved to take pictures.

He always had the best cameras and took a LOT of pictures. Every moment of our lives was an opportunity to take a picture:  First day of school, first dance, Easter, new outfit, you name it, there is a photo. 

But do you see a trend in how my Dad liked to pose us? 

Other than our looking in a mirror, which was also a favorite, he also liked to pose us in such "natural" poses as my putting an ornament on the tree. 

Well, we already know my mother did not allow me to help trim the tree so right there, that is not natural, but since I am posing exactly the same at the age of 12 and at the age of 16, putting that damn ornament on the tree, my Dad obviously had a thing about this particular pose. You can see in the first one, though, that I was a dramatic 12-year-old and was into it, because I tried to add some flair by holding my skirt up.  By 16, I had had about enough of this stuff, which you can kind of tell from my expression.  Not sure what was going on with my hair, here, though.

Here are a couple of the mirror ones.




 
 
 
Objects that evoke memories.
 
 
Here I am at on my second Christmas. 
 
 
That tree is very anemic and not the type of tree I remember.  Times must have been tough for my parents.
 
 

 
 
But looking at this picture, I see those chairs.
 
I have those chairs. 
 
Those chairs and I have a history.  Here I am at about one year old and there are those chairs.  Years later as a teen I would sit watching TV with my Dad, sitting in one of those chairs with one of my legs dangling over the arm of the chair eating a couple of pieces of toast.  My Mom would come in and say, "Rosellen, get your leg off of the chair and don't eat in the living room!" 
 
I think those chairs were the first pieces of furniture my parents bought together which would make them almost 90 years old.  They have been recovered many times and need to be recovered again, but I just love those chairs and hope that one of my kids will take care of them too when I am gone. 
 
Here is what the chairs look like today.
 
 
 
In need of recovering once again and a bit lumpy, but well loved. 
 
Upholsterers say that they make their money from nostalgia and sentimentality.  Otherwise, why would we pay as much to have an old chair reupholstered as we would to buy a new chair?  But there are no chairs from Macy's that would give me as much pleasure as these chairs do.  When I sit in those chairs, I feel my whole young life surrounding me with love, lumps and all, even though I am no longer young and have my own lumps to deal with.
 
 
 
 
Long Distance Holidays 

After college, I moved west to California, thousands of miles from my family and relatives.  I had my first professional library job in northern California, in a very rural area that didn't even have a McDonalds.  The biggest thrill living there was going to the Sears catalog store. 

I have had regrets over the years about moving so far from my family so that my kids never really got to know their Grammy and Granddaddy, but my Dad always said he admired my bravery in moving out West and wished he could have done it.  You see, my Dad always wanted to be a cowboy.  So when I saw this shirt in the Western store (no McDonalds but western stores abounded), I sent it to him for Christmas.  My Dad was also very good at showing his appreciation so he sent me this picture proudly wearing the shirt.


 
 
Then I had my own children. 
 

I came up with what I thought was an ingenious way to protect the Christmas tree from my first-born toddler!



First Christmas with Hubby. 


 
 
 
Presents from Grandparents


My mother sent our son a little Santa toy that played Christmas carols and moved around the floor.  The problem was it only played about four songs and played them over and over...and over and over. You can see the delight our son has in this toy so he played with it constantly.  However, by the 200th "Jingle Bells," Hubby and I thought we would be driven 'round the bend so little Santa mysteriously disappeared.



 
 
Our daughter's first Christmas. 






And then many Christmases passed and the kids grew up, got married and moved away.  They now had other families to spend Christmas with.

And we spent some Christmases alone.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 






Holidays alone


And because my brother, sister and I had moved so far away, my parents also spent many Christmases on their own. 



 
The irony of that parallel and how my parents must have felt about that when I moved away was not lost on me
(See the chairs they are sitting in)?

The first time Hubby and I found ourselves alone for Christmas, we decided, "Hell, let's go to Paris!  We will have the place to ourselves."

Not quite. We learned that other people like to travel over the holidays, other people and their entire families so Paris was crowded.  But it was still a welcome relief from spending our first Christmas alone without our kids.
 




 





Another time we found ourselves alone, we wandered off to Orcas Island in the San Juan Islands and stayed at the Rosario Resort.



In total contrast to Paris at Christmas, we DID have Orcas Island to ourselves and a beautiful view from our room.  However, having a place to yourself, especially on an island in the middle of nowhere, has its drawbacks.  At Christmas, Orcas Island closes up tighter than a drum.   Nothing was open so we spent most of our time in the hotel bar. Not necessarily a bad thing.


Hubby even managed to get a spot in the evening's entertainment!

 
But we have also had wonderful times with our children and their families too, made all the more precious remembering those times we were alone.



 

The holidays are all about family, love and lots of memories.
 

 
Though we don't always have control over who we will spend Christmas with and we miss our grown children and our grandchildren very much, especially over the holidays, we always know we have these guys! 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Share Your Holiday memories!
 
 
 
From us to you 
 
 
Happy Holidays everyone!
 
 
 
 
Thanks for Reading!
 
 And if you are looking for
 
something to do on Christmas Day,
 
See you Friday for my review
 
of the new Rocky film
 
"Creed" 
 
and


The Week in Reviews

 
(What to See or Read and What to Avoid)
  
 and the latest on
  
My 1001 Movies I Must See Before
 I Die Project."
 
 
 
 
 

 



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