Wednesday, December 07, 2016

The Best Things Happen While You're Decorating

Started a cloudy morning with breakfast, then spent the next couple of hours putting up the remaining Christmas decorations. I did the bears first. Mom started putting out stuffed bears and other stuffed toys in old hats, scarves, baby sweaters, and Anny's old velvet Christmas baby dress in the late 80's, after Dad gave her a Christmas bear from Ames (Mom called him Chester) she used to display. She continued doing this through the late 90's. By then, Mom had neither the room, nor the time to set up Chester and his friends. She turned them over to me when I moved to Wildwood in 2002. I've put them under the tree ever since, along with a couple of my own bears, the Webkinz Peppermint Puppy and Reindeer, the original Muppet Babies McDonald's plush toys from the 80's, four Disney character stuffed toys, and three Peanuts Christmas-themed toys.

After I finished the bears, I went right into the rest of the decorations. I love Christmas and have a ton of stuff for it. Every item has a story. Mom gave me the tiny Christmas tree when I was in college, since I couldn't have a full-sized one in the dorms. I now decorate it with a little beaded garland and string of "lights" from JoAnn's before they moved. The fold out Mickey/Minnie frame with her holding the Nutcracker came with the Snowed In at the House of Mouse DVD.

I received Holly the 6-inch Christmas doll, Gift and Herald the Beanie Baby angel bears, the big heavy resin Santa statue, the wooden folk-art snowman with the dangling legs, the small light-up Christmas water globe, the copper bell with the candy-cane cutouts, and the Swiss Miss tins as Christmas presents from various relatives. Amanda gave me Gretel, the Beanie Baby gingerbread girl. The nifty 60's-era Disney holiday tin, the porcelain teddies in the Santa suits, the poinsettia placemats, Winter Cinderella in her huge white and gold satin gown, and the remaining three holiday Beanie Baby bears were thrift shop and yard sale finds.

The three Eckard's Christmas beanies, vintage Santa and Mrs. Claus salt and pepper shakers, baskets of greenery, teddy bear and gingerbread kids hand-made by Mom with holiday fabric, folksy angel with the cheerful face painted on a button and dryer sheet wings, fabric star and ribbon garland, small Nutcracker, wooden incense burning cabin, huge cardboard Santa, old print fabric Elves, and wooden Noel candle holder are refugees from Mom's Christmas decoration stash. Linda Young made the cute wooden Fa-La-La and Ho-Ho-Ho signs several years ago. FYE had a really cute gift card depicting the Peanuts and their little tree a while back that was way too adorable to toss after I spent it. Marie the Aristocat in her chic ice-blue snow hat and ruffled collar came from the Disney Store's half-price end of the season sale.

Ran White Christmas as I worked. The blockbuster hit of 1954 gives us two performers-turned-producers (Danny Kaye and Bing Crosby) who follow a sister act (Vera-Ellen and Rosemary Clooney) from Florida to Vermont for the holidays. They end up at the very inn managed by their old general (Dean Jagger) that's in dire straights due to a warm streak in New England. They ultimately opt to bring the show they're producing up to Vermont, but it may not be enough. Then one of them overhears that the general is feeling down when the military won't take him back and tries to call out to his old troop to come up to Vermont to make the guy feel better. One of the sisters takes this the wrong way and walks out. It's up to the snarky housekeeper (Mary Wickes) and the other sister and partner to bring everyone together in time for the title of the movie to come true.

While I don't like White Christmas as much as the earlier Crosby Christmas musical Holiday Inn - the romantic comedy contrivances in the middle drag this down like crazy - there's are some numbers that are really cute. Both versions of "Sisters" are utterly hilarious. (Danny Kaye had so much fun with the guys' version, Bing actually did crack up at him in real-life in the end.) "Mandy" and "We'll Follow the Old Man" are nice ensemble numbers.

For my money, the best number is in the beginning. Barely five minutes in, Bing sings "White Christmas" during a show for the soldiers while bombs fall in the background, accompanied by nothing more than a tinkling music box. It's a simple, touching moment, more interesting than the overblown finale with huge dresses and falling snow.

If you're a fan of the cast, big 50's musicals, or the music of Irving Berlin, you'll want to take a trip to Vermont as well.

Switched to Max & Ruby as I finished the decorating and ate leftover soup for lunch. "Ruby's Present" for Grandma will be something fancy and fluffy...but Max has a better idea of what their tomboyish grandparent might like. Ruby wants "Max & Ruby's Christmas Tree" to be beautiful. As usual, Max has his own definition beauty that clashes with hers, at least until it's time to put the star on. "Max's Snowplow" takes the bunnies outside to shovel the walk to Grandma's. Max finds a better way to clear the snow.

"Max's Snow Day" has the duo stuck inside during a blizzard. Ruby tries to find things for her brother to do, but he wants to play in the snow. "Max's Snow Bunny" is the Abominable Snow Bunny, whom they heard about on the radio. Max wants to find this new terror. Ruby would rather make snow angels. In "Max's Mix-Up," Max wants to stay outside and go sledding, even when his sister says it's time to go in. Switching hats with Louise's brother Morris gives him a way to stay out a little longer.

Headed to the laundromat next after I finished eating. I didn't want to push getting the laundry done as late as I did last week! They were dead when I came in, but started to pick up a bit later. It was a good thing my load wasn't too big. I mostly just listened to Steve Harvey and worked on story notes.

When I got home, I put everything away, then finally got to finishing my story. Rey transforms into the legendary Dewdrop Fairy when she takes Anakin of the Skywalking Fairies' sword. She uses it to defeat Kylo Ren and transform him back into Prince Ben, Han and Leia's wayward fairy son.

While Ben sputters, Rey throws herself over the Nutcracker to protect him from Snoke. She's saved by the arrival of what turns out to be Santa Claus - Father Christmas - complete with reindeer and sleigh. Turns out he looks an awful lot like her Uncle Luke, up to and including having the same powers and same staff. He blocks Snoke from the fairy and the Nutcracker as she gives her beloved toy a gentle kiss.

There's a gold light around the broken Nutcracker. When it subsides, Rey holds a handsome young man in her arms. Turns out it's the missing Prince Finnegan. Ben, jealous of the attention his parents paid to the youth, turned him into a toy and forced him to join the Mouse Army.

Leia finally crowns him King Finnegan. He makes Han and Leia his top advisers, Poe the head of the Candy Army, and Chewbacca the royal court's bodyguard. Prince Ben isn't as happy. He insists he no longer belongs in the Land of Sweets and opts to follow the now-caged mice back to the Land of the First Order. Lady Kaydel the Snowflake Fairy and Mother Maz are just happy to have helped. Father Christmas - Luke - takes Rey home in his sleigh.

Rey wakes up in the ballroom the next morning. Her mother comes to see where she went. She hugs her, and then her brother when he comes down to give her a real apology for breaking her nutcracker. Her father takes her to the door to greet Luke and Finn, who have come to breakfast. Luke leads a skeptical Han to the kitchen, letting Rey happily give Finn an impromptu dance lesson.

This one didn't come out too badly. It took me a while to figure out. I first couldn't decide whether to use the Original Trilogy cast or the Force Awakens cast. Ran through a couple of locations for the opening and closing sequences before deciding this story works best set during or near the time of it's original production in 1892. Couldn't figure out where to go once I got in the Land of Sweets, either.

At any rate, I'm just glad I was able to finish this year's chapter-length Christmas story well before the holidays! (I didn't get Babes In WENNland, last year's long holiday story, done until mid-January.) While I should have plenty of time for writing this week and early next week, things will be picking up once I go back to work and start the Christmas baking. I'm going to concentrate on short stories - original short Christmas stories, more Star Wars Original Trilogy fairy tales, The Resistance Kids Go Camping - until after the New Year.

Here's The Star Wars Nutcracker at Archive of Our Own, Fanfiction.Net, and my writing blog.

The Star Wars Nutcracker at Archive of Our Own
The Star Wars Nutcracker at Fanfiction.Net
The Star Wars Nutcracker at My Writing Blog

It was so late by the time I finished the story, I had barely enough time for leftovers and to run Cricket on the Hearth before hitting the shower. This is the first of two Rankin-Bass adaptations of Charles Dickens holiday stories. Cricket Crockett (Roddy MacDowell) finds himself aiding a pair of Victorian lovers (Marlo Thomas and Ed Ames) when the man is lost at sea and she goes blind from the shock. Danny Thomas is (not surprisingly) the girl's protective toymaker father; Hans Conried plays the ugly old miser who wants to marry her on Christmas Day. Crockett dodges hungry crows and murderous sailors in order to return to his family and set everything right.

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