Christmas season was even more fun and festive this year because of the Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge, hosted by Michelle at her gorgeous blog, The Christmas Spirit, which makes life cheerier year-round, any time we need a little Christmas, as the Jerry Herman song says. I enjoyed her posts and guest posts on the theme of “Sharing the Joy: Christmas Around the World,” including Hungarian and Bohemian (by guest Caddy Rowland) customs of food, celebrating, and decorating.
For my participation in the Challenge, I read four books (and reviewed two):
- Jacob T. Marley by R. William Bennett (a well-written twist on A Christmas Carol, recommended to me by Michelle, who also reviewed it here).
- Moominland Midwinter, written and illustrated by Tove Jansson (a whimsical wisdom tale for both children and adults, counting towards my Northern Lights Reading Project).
- Scandinavian Christmas by Trine Hahnemann (a cookbook, also for Northern Lights).
- Shepherds Abiding by Jan Karon (recommended to me by Sharon of Faith Hope and Cherrytea; it’s now my favorite of the Karon books I’ve read).
I didn’t do my usual re-read of Old Christmas, by Washington Irving, but I did pull the book off the shelf and savored once again the illustrations by Randolph Caldecott. I had hoped to finish Lakeshore Christmas by Susan Wiggs, but I’ve only just started it–something for next year’s Challenge!
As part of the Challenge, I watched (or should I say “binge-watched”) Christmas movies served up marathon-style on the Hallmark Channel during the month of December. Here are some of my favorites:
- Fallen Angel (2003), starring Gary Sinise and Joely Richardson. Quietly beautiful story of two people who met as children and were destined to find each other again. This one got many viewings at my house.
- Christmas Cottage (2008), starring Marcia Gay Harden, Peter O’Toole, and Jared Padalecki. Early life and formative experiences of artist Thomas Kinkade.
- Christmas at Cartwright’s (2014), starring Alicia Witt, Gabriel Hogan, and Wallace Shawn. Alicia Witt is charmingly klutzy as a woman who becomes a department store Santa, and stumbles upon true love.
- The Christmas Ornament (2013), starring Kellie Martin and Cameron Mathison. Martin is wonderful as a widow who pushes away both Christmas and a new friendship with Mathison because of her loyalty to memory.
- The Nine Lives of Christmas (2014), starring Brandon Routh and Stephanie Bennett. Remember Superman Returns from 2006? Its star, Brandon Routh, plays a commitment-shy bachelor, but, hey, he’s on the Hallmark Channel during Christmas, so he’s sure to find lasting love!
As you can see, I had a lot of fun with the “Mistletoe” level of books read and the “Fa La La La La” (!) level of films watched. I’ll be back for more next year!