Melt-in-your-mouth… Brussels sprouts?!! December 31, 2013Posted by ourfriendben in homesteading, recipes.
Tags: Brussels sprouts, recipes for Brussels sprouts
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Silence Dogood here. Okay, so some of us love the mini-cabbages called Brussels sprouts (named for the city of Brussels in Belgium, don’t call them “brussel” sprouts), and some of us hate them. Those who hate them were probably exposed to horrible, overboiled, bitter Brussels sprouts. Eeewww!!! No wonder most Brussels sprout-haters won’t try them again, unless they’re so cleverly disguised that no one would recognize them.
I happen to love Brussels sprouts. I love shredded Brussels sprouts sauteed in butter or olive oil with red pepper flakes. I love Brussels sprouts halved and roasted, drizzled with olive oil, salt (my favorite for this is the seasoned herb salt, Trocomare) and fresh-cracked black pepper. I love Brussels sprouts boiled and buttered like broccoli (just to doneness, mind, they should be brightly colored and emit not even a trace of foul sulfurous fumes).
Unfortunately, our friend Ben doesn’t share my love of Brussels sprouts, doubtless having suffered a hideous childhood encounter with the hated sprouts. I’ve occasionally been able to trick him into eating some if I mix them in with other roasted veggies like quartered new potatoes, sweet onions, and mushrooms. But normally I have to wait until he’s out enjoying a night with friends to enjoy Brussels sprouts and his other most-hated foods, all of which I adore: beets, okra, and big, meaty butterbeans (mature lima beans).
That’s why, when we were grocery shopping last week for our always-opulent, luscious Christmas feast, and I saw a package of plump, halved, delicious-looking Brussels sprouts, I surreptitiously slipped them into our shopping cart while directing OFB’s attention to the fresh-baked bread. Yum! Those sprouts looked really good.
I’d been planning to roast them, drizzled with olive oil. But when push came to shove, I decided to boil them up as I do green beans, asparagus and broccoli, until just tender. I add lemon juice, butter, salt, and fresh-cracked black pepper to the asparagus and broccoli after draining it, then swirl the pot a few minutes to let the butter and etc. blend in. For green beans, and now for the halved Brussels sprouts, I simply add butter, salt (again, Trocomare or RealSalt) and pepper, give the pan a good shake, and serve.
I can’t tell you how surprised I was by the deliciousness of the results. The sprouts were buttery, soft, melt-in-your-mouth good! It would never have occurred to me to boil halved Brussels sprouts; I’d always boiled them whole and roasted them halved. But I think halving them, then boiling them, gave them that meltingly good texture.
I’ve reheated the leftovers several times now (sob, now they’re gone), so I know my reaction wasn’t a fluke. I’ve never tasted Brussels sprouts this good before. If you love them, try this. If you love them and are trying to convince a sprout-hater to convert, serve this (if you can spare the extras!). I’m planning to halve my sprouts and cook them this way from now on. Yum!!!
‘Til next time,
Battle of the Barbies. December 30, 2013Posted by ourfriendben in homesteading, wit and wisdom.
Tags: anorexia, Barbie, Barbie body image, foot binding, Heidi Klum, plus-size, Plus-Size Barbie, Twiggy
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Silence Dogood here. I noticed an article on Yahoo! News yesterday about a furore over a “plus-size Barbie” that had appeared on some plus-size modeling website. The creators of the image had taken a current, actual Barbie and ballooned her out to plus-size proportions, with meaty thighs (all too apparent under her micro-outfit) and triple chins.
People who identify as plus-size rightly rose up in anger and condemned the balloon Barbie, noting that they didn’t have triple chins. Hopefully, they also don’t wear micro-mini, figure-hugging outfits, and at 19 or whatever age Barbie is supposed to be, look fresh and youthful and sport firm flesh, whatever its size.
I was sorry that what was obviously supposed to be a well-intentioned effort had crashed and burned, but honestly, a modeling site should have known better in an era when a “plus-sized” model can be a size 8, as opposed to size 00 or 000. Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Jayne Mansfield, Joan Crawford, and pretty much every sex symbol who ever lived would be considered “plus-sized” by today’s standards. As would Madonna, Kate Winslet, and Jennifer Lawrence (though she does share Barbie’s super-elongated legs). Even the lovely Heidi Klum, with her ample curves, is in danger of being labeled “plus-sized.”
But what really horrified me was the supposedly “real” Barbie that was shown next to the plus-sized doll for purposes of comparison. I could not believe that the anorexic stick figure, with its toothpick arms and legs, its flat, tube-shaped, curveless body, and its comparatively monstrously huge head with outsize eyes and lips and a teensy-tinesy nose, could be an actual Barbie.
I grew up playing with Barbies, which in those days also had outrageously long legs, a trim waist, and large, cone-shaped breasts, along with tons of (usually blonde) hair, always in some kind of ponytail, perpetually red-painted nails, and lots-o-makeup. The Barbies of my era also all had feet so totally deformed—in order to wear high heels, of course—that their like had not been seen since the days when female courtiers’ feet were broken and bound in Imperial China. The dolls also had wardrobes, which always struck me as pretty dorky. They ended up looking like B-movie bimbos from a beach-blanket Elvis extravaganza who happened to have deformed feet.
But, bad feet and bad clothes aside, these Barbies’ bodies weren’t unattainable. At 5’5″, I was never going to have Barbie’s ultralong legs. But at Barbie’s supposed age, I had a perfect 34-17-34 figure, complete with concave stomach, and I never dieted, exercised, or even gave it a second thought. It was just the way it was. (Sigh.) This wasn’t the Fifties, when the “Sweater Girl” was in and curves were everything (and, I’m assuming, the first Barbie was born), or the Sixties, when Twiggy made anorexia and stick-thinness the unattainable ideal. (Check her out now! She’s by no means fat, but those natural woman-curves are definitely in evidence.)
But no one on earth ever looked like the Barbie I was seeing in the comparison photo. Even a victim of starvation would have a swollen belly, not a tube-body like this Barbie, though they would share the outsize head and stick arms and legs. I would like to know why this is considered attractive, a role model for young girls. Of course no one wants their daughters to look like Honey Boo Boo or Mama June. But there is a vast middle ground between obese and skeletal, and in that ground lies normalcy, health, and beauty.
‘Til next time,
Mouse-proof your house. December 29, 2013Posted by ourfriendben in critters, homesteading, pets, wit and wisdom.
Tags: dealing with mice, hantavirus, keeping mice out, Lyme disease, mice, mice in the house, mouseborne diseases
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Silence Dogood here. Hawk’s Haven, the cottage home our friend Ben and I share here in the precise middle of nowhere, Pennsylvania, is surrounded by farm fields. Farm fields mean field mice. A plentiful deer population means white-footed deer mice. And when it gets cold outside and the food supply starts to dwindle, their thoughts turn to a warm, cozy cottage home.
Mice—especially white-footed mice—may look cute, but there are two very good reasons to keep them out of your house. One is the horrible mess they make if they do get into something—shredded cloth, ripped-up packages, spilled food, massive amounts of droppings and the stench of mouse urine. The other is disease. White-footed deer mice are the actual carriers of the ticks that spread debilitating Lyme disease. In the Southwest, mice carry the often-fatal hantavirus. It’s easy to blame rats for the resurgence of plague in the U.S., but who’s to know? Maybe plague-carrying fleas have made the short jump to mice.
Needless to say, when you grow up in rural, mouse-friendly houses, as OFB and I both did, you learn some standard anti-mouse procedures early on. And here at Hawk’s Haven, we’ve developed others.
Yes, of course you can smear something sticky, like peanut butter or Brie, on mousetraps and set them where mice can get them but you and your pets and kids are unlikely to get snapped. If you use mousetraps, I suggest you dump the poor little carcasses in the shrubbery so your overwintering wildlife can get some extra protein. For my part, people who use glue traps can rot in them themselves in a hell of agony, terror, and slow death.
If you don’t have kids or pets, you can set out poison bait, as my father always did. Unfortunately, this process involves a step they never advertise on the packaging: The mice don’t die right away. Instead, they inevitably crawl into the woodwork or somewhere else where you’ll never find them, then die and proceed to rot and stink for months on end. It’s just amazing how strong a tiny little mouse carcass can smell. Eeewwww!!! And don’t ever let anything, pet or wildlife, eat a poisoned carcass, unless you want to inflict more death.
You can of course also try your hand with live traps, and good luck to you. Please check them often, or the mice will suffocate in terror. And please have a humane release plan that doesn’t involve dumping them on someone else’s land. Good luck with that!
I guess it’s obvious that we don’t use poison or traps here at Hawk’s Haven. We prefer a simple program of deterrence. Our first line of defence is our two indoor cats and beloved black German shepherd, Shiloh. It’s true that every now and again, one of the cats will catch a mouse. But far more often, their pursuit of the mice, launching themselves against the heating ducts or whatnot with Shiloh in hot and happy pursuit, is enough to make the mice rethink their strategy. Retreat suddenly looks like a great idea.
We’d recommend cats to anyone. But our longterm strategy is much simpler and more passive: exclusion. First, we try to make sure there are no openings, however small, into our home, such as a tiny space around a pipe. We’ve heard that mice can squeeze through an opening the size of a dime. Though this is hard to believe of our fat country mice, we take no chances, filling space where pipes and the like enter the house with steel wool, then duct-taping over it.
Next, we store mouse-friendly foods in mouse-proof containers. Cheeses, butter, produce and nuts live in our fridge until it’s time to eat them. Grains, pasta, beans, and cereals are in large glass or hard plastic click-top containers. Everything else that’s out is in cans, bottles, or glass jars. We keep our pet food in huge tins, and keep our black-oil sunflower seed and suet cakes for the outdoor birds in a tin as well. (Note: If, like us, you thought mice were vegetarians, you’ll be shocked to learn that they appear to love meat-rich cat-food pellets as much as any cat.)
We’re also mindful of things that wouldn’t strike us as edible, like soap and candles. Mice love ’em, so we keep them in secure, mouse-proof storage. Ditto for all natural fabrics. Mice are especially fond of wool—knitters, guard your yarn!—but cotton is fair game, as is paper, cardboard, you name it. Don’t risk it! Store your goods in those big plastic staorage bins you can get at any pharmacy or discount store or office supply store when they’re not hung up in your closet. And check your dresser drawers weekly.
Finally, if you do have pets, please dose them monthly with Frontline, Advantix, or some other flea- and tick-repellent. This will help you do an end-run around mice that might be carriers of disease via fleas or ticks, and save your pets as well as you.
‘Til next time,
Our Christmas miracle. December 26, 2013Posted by ourfriendben in homesteading, pets, wit and wisdom.
Tags: best Christmas, Christmas stories, Linus, Silence Dogood, the Christmas Eve cat
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Silence Dogood here. Every Christmas is special to me and our friend Ben. But this year, you might have thought we were really slacking off. I’d stocked up on balsam fir incense from Paine’s, a family tradition dating back to OFB’s childhood, and had ordered him his very own fruitcake from the monks of Gethsemane Abbey in Kentucky in honor of his Kentucky-born Mama’s annual fruitcake-making ritual. (I’m happy to do it as long as OFB doesn’t try to make me eat any leaden, disgusting fruitcake, I HATE fruitcake, yuck.)
We’d bought a lovely fresh wreath from our local farmers’ market to hang on the outside of our cottage home, and I’d got a nostalgic bottlebrush-and-silver-ball wreath from the Vermont Country Store for the front door. But the rest of our decorating left a lot, for us, anyway, to be desired.
We put up the tree, with its endless tiny white lights. But for some reason, OFB simply wouldn’t bring down the 50 boxes of ornaments from the attic. I’m deathly afraid of heights, so climbing the attic stairs wasn’t an option. I did manage to eventually browbeat OFB into bringing down the wreath we hang over the mantel every Christmas. I put our red candles in all our candlesticks, on the mantel and on our kitchen table, and put out our red Christmas placemats and green cloth napkins. We bought red and white poinsettias and put them on our mantel and kitchen table, making a beautiful display with their gold, red, and green foil pot wrappers.
All this minimalist decorating, coupled with endless badgering by me, made OFB really look at our decorating, perhaps for the first time. He felt that he really loved this simple style, instead of the ornate, overladen tree, mantel, table and etc. that normally marks our Christmas season. I managed to persuade him to go to our local Big Lots for some simple red balls to add to the tree—no need for a trip to the attic!—and a red brocaded tablecloth to serve as a tree skirt, something we’d never had and that added the perfect finishing touch to our tree.
Our Christmas dinner was scaled way back as well. I made my famous endive boats as appetizers, so easy, so good, and so light on the stomach: Belgian endive leaves filled with crumbled blue or gorgonzola cheese, pecan pieces, a few dried cranberries, and fresh-cracked black pepper. Then I made my wonderful Christmas dressing, traditional corn pudding, roasted sweet potatoes, and green beans, and heated up some luscious, buttery dinner rolls. OFB had homemade cookies from our neighbors, famous handmade candies from me, and the Trappist fruitcake to choose from for dessert, but he was so full, he passed on all of them.
I won’t even go into all the dishes I didn’t make this Christmas, including the fabulous homemade eggnog (a family recipe for over 200 years) and the chocolate yummy-rummies that people have been known to fight over. Even without the additional decorations and dishes, you may be asking yourself what this could possibly have to do with a Christmas miracle.
Well, maybe we didn’t get to see all our beloved ornaments displayed this year, or eat all our favorite Christmas foods. Maybe we didn’t get every present we’d been hoping for. But what we did get was more than anything we could ever have hoped for in our wildest dreams.
You see, in August, OFB inadvertently held our back deck door open a little too wide, a little too long, while taking our beloved black German shepherd, Shiloh, outside for a bathroom break. And while the door was open, my favorite cat, Linus, shot out the door and escaped into the great outdoors.
This might not seem so awful to you, but you have to understand that we live in a part of the world where the gun-toting types that identify with “Duck Dynasty” are all around us. People shoot cats for fun or target practice. Cars race around the corner, hitting anything in their way. There are plenty of other types of viscious competing wildlife, from raccoons to coyotes and foxes. Every day, I looked for Linus and wept.
Four months later, Linus had miraculously survived and was making his presence felt. He was living under our studio and under our deck. He was eating the food we put out for him every day. He was following us around the yard when we took Shiloh out, coming to the deck door and even setting a paw or half of himself inside in the warmth and dryness, yelling his head off outside my office window if he wanted to see me, then rushing to the deck to continue the conversation in person. The one thing he wasn’t doing was coming back inside.
Then, this Christmas Eve, a miracle happened. Shiloh and our other cat, Linus’s half-sister Layla, were nowhere in sight. I heard Linus calling, so I went to the back deck door, cracked it open, turned on the deck light, and started talking to him. And there he was. He came part-way in, dashed back out, came back in, dashed back out, came back in—this time, far enough in for me to grab him and shut the door. Just in time for Christmas, Linus was back home!
He immediately jumped up on the counter where we have the cat-food and water bowls (out of Shiloh’s reach), then headed under our bed for a long winter’s rest. For the first night in four months, I actually slept through the night, with no nightmares of my beloved cat killed in the road or shot by some monster. At one point during the night, I woke to find the familiar furry body pressed tight against mine, purring his heart out.
I tell you, there has never been a better Christmas.
‘Til next time,
Our Christmas wish for you. December 25, 2013Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
Tags: Christmas, Christmas prayers, Fra Giovanni, Fra Giovanni's Christmas Prayer
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Every Christmas here at Poor Richard’s Almanac, your faithful bloggers—our friend Ben, Silence Dogood, and Richard Saunders (aka Poor Richard)—like to share our favorite Christmas prayer with our readers. It was written as a Christmas letter by Fra Giovanni in 1513. May you all find joy this wonderful time of the year!
Fra Giovanni’s Christmas Prayer
I salute you! There is nothing I can give you which you have not; but there is much that, while I cannot give, you can take.
No heaven can come to us unless our hearts find rest in it today. Take Heaven.
No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in the present moment. Take Peace.
The gloom of the world is but a shadow; behind it, yet within our reach is joy. Take Joy!
And so, at this Christmas time, I greet you, with the prayer that for you, now and forever, the day breaks and the shadows flee away.
Is there space for the Lord? December 24, 2013Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
Tags: Christmas, Christmas reflections, Pope Francis
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This Christmas season, let us ask ourselves, with Pope Francis, “Is there space for the Lord, or is there space only for parties, shopping and noise?” Even if you feel very far removed from God, or any concept of God, if you spend quiet time this holiday season, avoiding parties, shopping, and noise, you will find space for yourself, for something greater than consumerism and busyness. And we here at Poor Richard’s Almanac think you’ll be glad you did.
Kids’ Christmas wishes: 1913 December 18, 2013Posted by ourfriendben in homesteading, wit and wisdom.
Tags: Christmas 1913, kids' Christmas 1913, sensible Christmas gifts, top Christmas gifts 1913, toys and treats 1913
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Silence Dogood here. If you’re drowning in sticker shock this Christmas over your kids’ demands for the latest iPad, Xbox, designer gear, and so on, you might wonder what life was like in a happier, simpler, less materialistic time. Fortunately, thanks to a website called MyHeritage, we can time-travel back and find out.
The website has an archive of newspapers dating back to the early 1600s, but let’s limit our search to exactly 100 Christmases ago. The year was 1913, and parents loved to send their children’s “Dear Santa” letters to the local paper for publication. As a result, MyHeritage was able to compile a list of the top ten most-requested Christmas gifts for the year. Here they are, from the #1 to the #10 request:
* Thank God for Kleenex, invented in 1924.
In that day, Christmas stockings were typically stuffed with an orange in the toe and nuts and candy in the leg of the stocking. Lucky kids received peppermint sticks in their stockings. They would mash up their orange to make it juicy, cut a hole in one end, and insert a peppermint stick, then suck the orange juice out of the stick as though it were a straw. This was considered a huge treat. (Poor kids had to make do with apples, homemade molasses candy or maple sugar candy, and nuts gleaned from the woods.)
While younger children might indeed get dolls, rocking horses, and toy trains, older children could wish for books, sewing kits, sheet music, and paint sets. Mittens and gloves, socks and stockings, scarves and caps, handkerchiefs, and sturdy boots were probably as much anticipated as Great-Aunt Ethel’s hideous Christmas sweaters are today, but they were desperately needed, given the lack of heating in outdoor transport and the number of children who walked to school.
Our friend Ben and I are still fans of the old, simple toys. We just sent our four-year-old nephew a set of all-wood “Lincoln Logs,” and our neice a marble solitaire set. OFB and I both still love playing with them, and with Monopoly and many another old game. We’d love to wake up on Christmas morning to find our stockings filled with our favorite nostalgic candies and nuts and dried fruits and cheese. OFB has hinted that he’d really appreciate some high-quality socks, and I asked Santa to bring me a nice flannel bathrobe this year.
Like the children of 1913, we believe that asking for some simple indulgences and a few things we actually need is the formula for a very merry Christmas.
‘Til next time,
Of Smaug and storytelling. December 17, 2013Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
Tags: J.R.R. Tolkien, Peter Jackson, The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings
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Our friend Ben is big on storytelling. There’s nothing as satisfying, nothing that brings such a sense of connection, nothing that reinforces a society’s values like a good story. That’s why stories like the King Arthur cycle and the Iliad and Odyssey and, say, Robin Hood and Sherlock Holmes and Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol have enjoyed such long and healthy lives.
J.R.R. Tolkien was also a great storyteller. Our friend Ben has read his books, The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy, every year since I was in sixth grade.
Like all great stories, these books are ultimately about people (be they human, dwarf, elf or hobbit), about their strengths and weaknesses, about how they come to know themselves, to rise above their limitations or sink below their birthright. Thus, you have Gollum. You have Bilbo and Frodo Baggins. You have Arwen Evenstar and Thranduil, Aragorn and Boromir, Saruman and Sam Gamgee. You have Thorin Oakenshield.
And you have Peter Jackson, who is bringing Tolkien’s world of Middle Earth, first in the Lord of the Rings trilogy and now in The Hobbit trilogy, to the big screen. Mr. Jackson’s films of Tolkien’s books have been a huge success. But ultimately, they have little to do with the books that inspired them.
Mr. Jackson has succeeded in turning Tolkien’s books into high-speed action adventures worthy of any Marvel Comics adaptation. He apparently is so enamoured of his 3-D, computer-animated, high-speed action sequences that he is willing to sacrifice everything that made Tolkien worth reading in support of them. Such as individuality and character development. And as he has famously said, he doesn’t give a damn about what anyone who actually values Tolkien’s works thinks; he’s not making the films for Tolkien fans, he’s making them for himself.
Our friend Ben is sorry about this. I still see the Jackson movies; Silence Dogood and I saw “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” just last night. Much as we love Benedict Cumberbatch, we agreed that only three characters were developed at all during the entire, interminable 2 1/2-hour-plus film: Bilbo, Thorin, and Thranduil, the Elvenking. Everybody else just paled into shadow or (as with Bard and Tauriel) were cardboard characters, stereotypes, to begin with, serving a purpose but lacking real individuality.
You can’t blame Peter Jackson for Bard; he was a stereotype in Tolkien’s original as well, a place-holder. But to drain the life out of Balin, Bofur, Gandalf, Radaghast, Beorn, Legolas, the Master of Laketown, pretty much everybody; to cram in as many computer-generated fight scenes as was humanly possible, at the expense of character development; to make the plot subservient to the action sequences, just as in his Lord of the Rings trilogy: For shame!
Who knows if a version will ever be filmed that does justice to the actual story in Tolkien’s books rather than trying to turn it into Star Wars or a Marvel Comic epic. Our friend Ben salutes Martin Freeman and Richard Armitage and Andy Serkis and all the actors who tried to give Peter Jackson’s version their best. But for those who think these movies are all J.R.R. Tolkien’s world has to offer, three words of advice: Read the books.
Christmas tree lighting. December 14, 2013Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
Tags: Christmas, Christmas tree lighting, Christmas tree rituals, Christmas trees
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Today, our friend Ben and Silence Dogood finally set up our Christmas tree. (We tend to take our time getting decorated, since we wait a good month or more after Christmas before taking our decorations down.) And thus begins one of our most cherished Christmas traditions: the lighting of the tree.
We confess, we’re not talking about some august ritual where we light candles on the tree or anything. We just plug in the tiny white Christmas lights and set our tree ablaze.
Doesn’t everybody do that, you might ask. What’s so special about it?
What makes it special to us is that we don’t decorate the tree for another week after we light it. Instead, we enjoy the beautiful simplicity of white lights against green foliage, perfect just as it is.
Of course, eventually we always succumb and hang our beloved ornaments and garlands on the tree, many hand-made, many antique, many with layers of memory because of the giver or maker or history. Our tree will become rich with color, meaning, and magic.
But always, we love the time spent with the simple lighted tree. For looking up through its starry branches, we can imagine a child seeing the starry night sky through a veil of branches, in a manger long ago…
Favorite Christmas movies. December 12, 2013Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
Tags: best Christmas movies, Christmas movies, favorite Christmas movies, nostalgic Christmas favorites
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At Silence Dogood’s suggestion, our friend Ben has spent the past few days Googling “best Christmas movies” lists of all types and stripes to make sure there aren’t gaping holes in our collection. This has turned up some really bizarre results (one reviewer listed “Die Hard” as his favorite Christmas movie). It’s also resulted in more predictable choices, from “A Christmas Story” to “The Nightmare Before Christmas.”
Naturally, some version of Charles Dickens’s enduring classic, A Christmas Carol, typically turns up on every “best of” list. Typically, the definitive 1951 version starring Alastair Sim as Scrooge is cited, though our friend Ben was delighted to find that the Albert Finney musical version, “Scrooge,” made several lists. George C. Scott’s interpretation was also on several lists.
Other classics, like “Miracle on 34th Street,” “Holiday Inn,” “White Christmas,” and “The Bishop’s Wife” made most lists. (Silence and I have two versions of “Miracle,” but have ordered both Bing Crosby vehicles, “Holiday Inn” and “White Christmas,” since we can’t tell them apart offhand and need to see them again, as well as “The Bishop’s Wife,” which we can’t recall ever seeing.)
Then there are the Christmas downers. Every list gives the obligatory nod to “It’s a Wonderful Life,” a movie that’s so relentlessly depressing we can’t bear to watch it. There’s nothing wonderful about watching a man ground down for the length of a film in order to see a two-minute happy ending. It reminds us of Will Smith’s “The Pursuit of Happyness.” No, thank you. At least O. Henry’s “Gift of the Magi,” which is at least as depressing and distressing, didn’t make the lists; perhaps there’s not yet been a movie adaptation. Thank God for small blessings.
All this looking at lists gave me and Silence lots to talk about, especially after we’d looked at our Christmas movie collection and compared it to the lists. Finally, Silence asked what my favorite Christmas movie was. “Is it that Blackadder Christmas Carol?!” she asked suspiciously, referring to one of my favorites, a British comedic version in which the kindest man in London, Ebenezer Blackadder, is tranformed on Christmas Eve through the visit of a ghost into Scrooge.
I do love that, but no. And fond as I am of the original version of “Miracle on 34th Street,” my all-time favorite Christmas movie would have to be a Scrooge. We have many versions, from the original 1934 interpretation through Patrick Stewart’s. Like so many, I remain impressed with Alastair Sim’s defining performance. And I love the Albert Finney musical. But, I must confess, if I could only have one Christmas movie, it would be “Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol.”
Our friend Ben grew up with Mr. Magoo. As both a fan of slapstick and a very nearsighted child, I loved Magoo and his antics. In my childhood home, reading the entire Christmas Carol aloud on Christmas Eve was a tradition (we all took turns). To combine this beloved tradition with the humor of Magoo was irresistible to the youthful Ben, and the movie, also a musical, had surprisingly good songs.
I still watch the Magoo version of “A Christmas Carol” every year, and I still laugh and sing along. Okay, it’s hardly the best Christmas film ever made, but it certainly spreads a big dollop of Christmas cheer every year here at this house. What’s your favorite Christmas movie?