Category Archives: 25 Days of Christmas

Fantastic Christmas Adventure: Lights!

Whew, it has been a whirlwind of a month, which is why I usually go light on the blog in December. Sorry for the lack of updates, everyone, but here is a new fantastic adventure for the entire family that’s worth the wait.

Whatever your religious beliefs (even lack thereof), there are not too many things better than gathering with family and taking a stroll on a cool December night and looking at Christmas lights. Here in Long Beach, we have a row of homes along a canal in Naples who go all out every year. It is a great way to take a little time off from all the shopping, rushing around and bad drivers! Spend some quality time with your kids (even your teenagers), parents, aunts, uncles, whoever you can drag with you, and experience the wonder of humans both young and old when they gaze at Christmas lights.

Enjoy the photos and the holidays! See you all soon!

Does the Perfect Holiday Exist?

christmas-tree-decorations(9)We’ve all seen the movies and TV commercials, family and friends all wearing Christmas sweaters, an impeccably decorated house, snow falling to the ground and everyone laughing, drinking hot cocoa and having the time of their lives. When you think of Holiday parties, what comes to mind? It’s probably something similar to what I just described. But how many of you have actually experienced the Holidays in this way? Are we all trying to live up to some lofty expectation that can never be met? If so, how did this happen? Card companies? Norman Rockwell?

Of course the next obvious question is, does it matter? Perhaps we should stop searching for that one thing that will make us “feel” like it is Christmas and focus instead on what we have. Take a moment and look at your children or grandchildren as they run through the house playing with their new toys. Do they have any trouble finding the Christmas spirit? Forget all of these notions about the perfect holiday party and focus on creating your perfect holiday party. What do you want at your party? Who do you want to see? What do you want to eat? Where do you want  to be? Go out and make it happen! Give your kids a safe, engaging and fun environment and I’ll bet the rest of the pieces will fall into place.

Enjoy the season!

 

Christmas Adventures

First off, I hope everyone is enjoying the holidays. December is in full swing, my daughter’s birthday party is coming up this weekend, and then Christmas celebrations begin! It is always a whirlwind this time of year, but it is fun and such a great few months to spend with friends and family that it is all worth it. How do you feel about this time of year?

Seeing as how my viewership is nearly double that of last year, I thought I would point you all in the direction of my Fantastic Christmas Adventures posts from last year. So today you get not one, but multiple Fantastic Adventures. Best of all, I’ll only charge you for one! Oh wait, I don’t have a tip jar on this blog. Well, lucky you, you get them all for free! Happy Holidays!

The Polar Express

Rankin / Bass TV Specials

All I Want for Christmas

Jack Frost

 

 

 

 

Fantastic Adventure Christmas Edition: Jack Frost

186604.1020.AJack Frost is a 1998 movie starring Michael Keaton as a talking snowman. Well, okay, it’s more than that. Jack Frost is a singer who’s on the road most of the time so he can’t spend a lot of time with his son Charlie, although they love each other very much. When Jack dies in a car accident, Charlie becomes a very sad young man, until… Jack returns as a snowman! Now they can do all the things they’ve missed when Jack was human.

Why it is a fantastic adventure: The film deals with one major issue, a kid losing his father. If you have kids who have has this happen to them, this film can be a good coping tool, as the end of the movie deals with moving 63848551on and making peace with the fact that dad is never coming back.
Moving on to happier topics, this film also deals with what it is like to be a kid in junior high, and all of the alienation and awkwardness that comes along with that. However,  this movie adds a very Christmas-y twist, as Charlie gets to spend quality time getting back at the bullies with the help of a giant snowman.
Charlie gets to spend extra time with his dad, who wasn’t there too much when he was alive. This not only leads to fun and adventure, it also provides the film with a lot of heart. This is one film that will tug at your heartstrings and let your kids experience a genuinely emotional experience about parents.
The puppet and CGI work all hold up very well, and the snowman really takes on a likable and believable personality. You may have missed this one, as it did not do too well in 1998, so give it a chance this Christmas and believe in magic once again.

Jack Frost is available to own on DVD or rent from Amazon or Netflix.

Fantastic Adventure Christmas Edition: All I Want for Christmas

All-I-Want-for-Christmas-1991-movie-coverAll I Want for Christmas is a 1991 film about a young boy, Ethan, and his sister, Hallie. Their parents divorced one year ago right around Christmas, leaving the kids longing for their family to get back together. It isn’t until Hallie goes to see Santa (“the real one. At Macy’s.”) that Ethan sees how much his sister really wants their parents back together. The two hatch a scheme to get their parents alone together on Christmas Eve through Christmas morning. Will it work, or will it drive their parents even further apart?

Why it is a fantastic adventure: For some reason, a young Thora Birch keeps coming up in my movie reviews. I guess it’s because she was such a great child actress. Once again, she turns in an adorable performance as the innocent, yet intelligent, little sister. Ethan Embry plays a convincing and caring older brother.
This film deals with two major issues. The first is the big brother, little sister bond. Your kids will certainly learn a thing or two about how to take care of their younger siblings. Ethan is constantly watching over Hallie and making sure that she is safe. In one scene, he distracts her from hearing another argument between their parents. He watches over her andMSDALIW EC007 makes sure that she does not run off alone in New York city. When she inevitably does, he drops everything he does, puts himself at risk, and runs to go find her. It is a great lesson for all of the little ones in your home.
The second issue is divorce. In 1991, divorce was still a sticking point that rarely got attention in family films. Today it is more accepted and commonplace to see the topic discussed openly in family entertainment. If you have yet to discuss the topic with your kids, this is a great place to start. It portrays the kids as content and still being kids, goofing off and enjoying life, but it also shows the private side of the kids’ lives and how the each deal with grief. Ethan watches old family videos and cries, while Hallie takes the more naïve approach of asking Santa to get them back together.
Finally, this film is not all sad stuff. There is a lot of action and adventure. When the kids try to get their parents back together, the hatch a fun plan full MSDALIW EC012of pranks and little white lies. There are runaway mice, towed cars, diverted cabs and a late night dinner at the family diner. All in all, it is a grand scheme worthy of The Parent Trap and it will have your kids laughing and on  the edge of their seats.
The film also provides some great Christmas scenery: a white, wintry Christmas tree, falling snow and trips to Macy’s.

All I Want for Christmas is available to own on DVD, or rent it from Amazon.

The Elf who Came in From the Cold

Gibbly the elf was really cold. He was not sure why standing out in the falling snow was a “privilege”, as the other elves said. Perhaps they knew better, or perhaps they were playing a trick on poor Gibbly. He had been standing in front of a red pole with a flashing light on the end all day long. His instructions were to call the head elf immediately if the light were to ever stop flashing. Gibbly was told this was a very important job. You see, if the light stopped flashing, Santa would not be able to find his way out of the North Pole and into the sky.  That would mean no presents being delivered on Christmas Eve!

“But,” Gibbly thought. “Santa already has GPS installed on his new sleigh. Does he even need these lights to guide him anymore? I don’t see anyone else watching the other lights.”
And he was right. There were no other elves watching the other lights. In fact, there was no one around as far as he could see. The only thing he could see, besides the annoying flashing light on a pole, was a small brick building way off in the distance. There was smoke coming out of the chimney, and all of the windows were lit with a bright, yellow light. The warmth coming from the fireplace melted the snow around the building. It looked to be the only warm place for miles.

“Oh, forget it. I need to get out of the cold!” Gibbly slowly walked through the blinding white snow and reached the brick building in just the right time – his pointy elf ears were frozen solid! He quickly knocked on the big, wooden door. It creaked open under the weight of his knocking. Gibbly looked around, but he could see no one standing in the doorway. Not wanting the rest of him to freeze, Gibbly walked inside. The warmth immediately flushed his cheeks, and he could feel his ears again!

“Hello?” Gibbly called out, but no one answered. Gibbly made himself at home, lounging in the overstuffed red sofa and sipping hot chocolate out of a green, swirly glass. Gibbly was now nice and warm. He was so warm and comfortable on the couch that he quickly started falling asleep.

***

“Hey. Why are in my house?”

Gibbly opened his eyes to see a large face staring down at him.
“Sorry, sir. I must have fallen asleep.”

“You’re Gibbly, aren’t you? You’re supposed to be watching the light this Christmas Eve! Why aren’t you out there?”

Gibbly sat up on the big red couch. “I thought that was just a joke the other elves were playing on me!”

“Oh, no. It is a very serious job. You must get back out there!” the large elf said.

Gibbly got up from the couch, walked out the front door, and braced himself for a long, cold walk. His large, pointy ears started freezing again! Gibbly made it to the pole and realized that the light had gone out! He reached for his communicator, but it was gone.
“I must have left it in the house!” Gibbly thought.

Up in the air, Gibbly could hear Santa’s sleigh approaching his location.

“What should I do? Will Santa lose his way if I don’t fix the light? Where did I leave that extra light bulb?”

Gibbly searched in the snow for the light bulb. Above, he heard Santa’s sleigh getting even closer to the pole, except something didn’t sound right. The bells on the sleigh sounded like they were heading in the wrong direction.

“Oh no! Santa’s reindeer are getting lost! I need to hurry.”

Gibbly found the bulb, took the old one out, and screwed the new one in as quick as he could. The light came to life in a blinding white light. Gibbly looked to the sky. The sleigh bells were getting closer! Within a few seconds, Gibbly heard the loud jingle of sleigh bells and then Santa’s sleigh flew overhead! Santa was back on track and off to deliver presents to children around the world!

“Wow! I really did make a difference. Being frozen from head to toe was certainly worth saving Christmas for all of the girls and boys around the world. I am an important elf,” Gibbly said with a smile.

THE END

Fantastic Adventure Christmas Edition: Rankin / Bass TV Specials

rudolph2I am fairly certain there is not a kid out there who has not seen at least one of these TV specials. These puppet based Christmas shows cover all of the classic stories. Rudolph, Jack Frost, Santa Claus, Frosty and more! Without further ado, I shall skip the summaries and dig right in.

Why it is a fantastic adventure: The stop motion puppet animation is timeless and give the shows such a whimsical look that they will stick in your kids’ heads for the rest of their lives. This will help establish your kids’ first sense of Christmas. As soon as they see these images they will instantly be reminded of Christmas cheer.rudolph
The storylines of all of these shows are all full of positive messages and great teachable moments. As always, it is best to open a dialogue with your children after watching or reading anything, and these specials really bring out the best of the human spirit.
Each of these specials will take your kids on a fantastic adventure filled with daring, danger, excitement and good old fashioned holiday cheer. My favorite, A Year Without a Santa Claus, deals with the scary thought of what would happen if Santa couldn’t make it out to deliver the gifts! It is great plot points like these that will have your kids enthralled.

Do not miss these specials! Check local listings, as they are almost always on TV around Christmas. You can also buy them on DVD. The-Year-Without-a-Santa-Clause_RankinBass-Productions_jpg