Monday, November 5, 2018

Around the Kitchen Table: What Lifts Your Holiday Spirit? + #Giveaway




Every month we gather “Around the Kitchen Table” to chat about a topic. Join our discussion, and you’ll be entered to win some wonderful books. Learn more below… 



CLEO COYLE: A week before Halloween our local Home Depot put up their annual aisle of Christmas decorations, and now that it’s November, the countdown is really kicking in. Some are cynical about these days—sure, it’s a chance for the retail world to ring up sales. But Marc and I never forget the reasons for the seasons of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Hanukkah. What we appreciate most of all (okay, besides the eating) is the giving. 
     In the best and worst of times, that holiday spirit of generosity and love goes a long way to healing the wounds of the year, bridging the divides between people, and uplifting the saddest of hearts. From the bottom of our own hearts, Marc and I hope this holiday season brings you joy.
   


To help get you into the holiday spirit, we’re asking you to name a few of your favorite holiday films or stories or even songs. 
Here are few that Marc and I always enjoy… 

Miracle on 34th Street (the original film version from 1947)A Christmas Carol by Charles DickensA Charlie Brown Christmas  * Die Hard (yes, the Bruce Willis action flick from 1988)Elf (the sweet comedy with Will Ferrell and Bob Newhart) How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Thank you, Dr. Seuss!) * and… “The Gift of the Magi” by O. Henry 


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SHEILA CONNOLLY: I enjoy It's a Wonderful Life after I can't count how many viewings. I tend to sing along (loudly) to Handel's Messiah. Interesting story there: I have a favorite hotel in Dublin, and I discovered that right around the corner is the theater where The Messiah was first performed. And when we lived in the Bay Area, I had a chance to go caroling with a group of friends, one of whom was a singer with the San Francisco opera. It's hard to compete with that, but as a group I hope we sounded wonderful.

And I have one very special Christmas record. Sometime in the late 1950s my grandmother recorded A Child's Christmas in Wales, by Dylan Thomas (I think because she was a volunteer for The Lighthouse for the Blind in Manhattan). It's a vinyl record, and the vinyl itself is translucent red. I'm almost afraid to play it because it will probably make me cry to hear her voice


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DARYL WOOD GERBER: Cleo, I'm with you re: the giving spirit. 'Tis the season.
People do open their pocketbooks and often their hearts. I hope that will still hold true this year. As for movies, Sheila, I love It's A Wonderful Life. I also love White Christmas. For years, my sister and I would sing "Sisters" just as campily as we could. Cleo, I adore Die Hard. I've watched it numerous times. Yippee, kay, ay!... The Christmas music throughout is a perfect backdrop for the tension. Love Actually is one of my favorite movies. A real tearjerker in so many ways, but so sweet, too.  I loved Colin Firth trying to speak Italian. Home Alone. Kid you not! Such fun. My son was that age when it came out. Scary that a kid can be so clever! The Santa Clause. Again, I've watched this too many times to count with my son and now my grandkids. So funny. Tim Allen at his best. Did you notice the elves ears throughout? And then, of course, Miracle on 34th Street. There's nothing like truly believing in Santa Claus.


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PEG COCHRAN: Christmas and Thanksgiving are about giving whether you're giving presents, food or providing company for someone who might have been alone.  We've had our share of "strays" for holiday dinners--single parents whose children were celebrating with in-laws, singles whose families lived far away and once a young man who my daughter felt sorry for--he was ostracized from his family--who rather shocked my mother with his piercings and tattoos!  

As for music and movies--I LOVE Christmas in Connecticut.  So funny and so charming and romantic.  I have to see A Christmas Carol (and read the book) every year, too.  Charlie Brown's Christmas still makes me feel sentimental and I love watching the Grinch with my granddaughter.  I love all Christmas songs but "O Holy Night" has a special place in my heart.

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LESLIE BUDEWITZ: Cleo, I laughed when I saw Die Hard on your list -- it's Mr. Right's favorite Christmas movie, though when the subject comes up, he often has to defend it as a holiday flick. ("Oh, the weather outside is frightful...") And some dispute whether Love Actually qualifies as a Christmas movie, but how can you deny a movie built around an office Christmas party and a school pageant? The answer is clear the moment the PM's bodyguard opens his mouth to sing "Good King Wenceslas" when the PM and his crew are mistaken for carolers! Just thinking about White Christmas and It's A Wonderful Life makes me happy, one for the songs and silliness, the other for the message that we have a chance to touch people in ways we may never know. And I highly recommend last year's The Man Who Invented Christmas, with Dan Stevens (Matthew from Downton Abbey) as Charles Dickens and Christopher Plummer as Scrooge, who talks to Dickens in a dream. It's also a great portrayal of the creative process and how we writers grab bits and pieces from our daily lives, our dreams, and who knows where and meld them together. If you're feeling "bah humbug," I promise it will lift your spirits! 


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DENISE SWANSON: I admit that I'm a bit of a humbug about the holidays. I love the giving, but some of the forced festivity annoys me. Having said that, I never miss my favorite movie White Christmas. And I love the songs like "Little Drummer Boy", "Hark the Herald Angels Sing", and "Away in a Manager".

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LUCY BURDETTE: I love Christmas--the decorations are wonderful in Key West and the Key West Hometown holiday parade, not to be missed. I love baking cookies, and eating them without guilt:). As for music and movies, The Messiah is at the very top of my list. And there's a lovely radio program every Christmas morning on NPR with British music. And Christmas carols (not the goofy music in stores that I shall not name lest it become lodged in your heads...). And Leslie, Love Actually is definitely a Christmas movie!

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KRISTA DAVIS: How is it possible that none of you have mentioned one of my
favorite holiday movies? I must be a goofball at heart because I love National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. From the tree that's too tall, to the dried out turkey (who doesn't fear that every time they cook the Christmas turkey?), to the difficulty with the Christmas lights on the house, it's just fun. Poor old Clark only wants to have the best Christmas ever! I admit that I'm also a fan of Home Alone. And speaking of goofy Christmas carols, Lucy, I have to laugh every time I hear Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer. Okay, it's totally silly and I love the Messiah, The Christmas Song (Chestnuts roasting by an open fire), and Jingle Bells (what could be cheerier?), but the one about poor Grandma makes me laugh every time I hear it. I'm also a big fan of Jingle Bell Rock and Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree. Okay, I like all the Christmas songs, every single one of them!

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LINDA WIKEN: I love Christmas, too! Especially the lights on outdoor trees. They such sparkle and joy to a cold winter's night, and our nights do get cold! I also love the anticipation but wish I was better organized so that all presents would be bought, wrapped and sent on time...and then I could relax and enjoy the countdown to Christmas. My traditions include watching White Christmas every  year -- my all time best movie; listening to Christmas music in general, especially The Nutcracker ballet and a CD of Swedish Christmas songs by celebrated soprano Anne-Sophie Mutter. I always try to take in some live concerts and this year I'm so looking forward to Tales of a Charlie Brown Christmas, with the Jerry Granelli Trio put on by the Jazz Festival. What a treat it will be! As for books, I enjoy rereading The Joyous Season by Patrick Dennis, the author of Auntie Mame, so you know how witty it is! But the best part of Christmas is coming home after the midnight service, turning on the fireplace and the Christmas tree, and listening to carols. 



🎄 Giveaway! 🎄


HERE'S WHAT'S INSIDE...



* Cleo Coyle's new Haunted Bookshop Mystery,
THE GHOST AND THE BOGUS BESTSELLER

* Daryl Wood Gerber's new Cookbook Nook Mystery,
WREATH BETWEEN THE LINES

* Denise Swanson's 2nd Welcome Back to Scumble River Mystery,
DIE ME A RIVER

* Leslie Budewitz's 5th Food Lovers' Village Mystery,
AS THE CHRISTMAS COOKIE CRUMBLES

* Lucy Burdette's 5th Key West Food Critic Mystery,
DEATH WITH ALL THE TRIMMINGS

* Krista Davis's new Pen and Ink Mystery 
THE COLORING CROOK (advanced reading copy)



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Join our Kitchen Table chat: 

Tell us about a favorite
holiday film, story, or song. 






THE WINNER!
By random number draw, the
winning comment for our
giveaway was made by...

Rosemary Pfeiffer!

Congratulations, Rosemary!
Enjoy your prizes and...

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!


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