Tag Archive: miracle on 34th street

Christmas Hope and Faith

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

Every year on Thanksgiving day or soon after, there is one movie I must watch. It is a movie full of sentimental feelings, of earnestness and faith.

It is not a favorite with most of my family but slowly they are all around watching the movie right down to the bitter end.

Miracle Parade SantaOf course I am talking about Miracle on 34th Street. And as far as I am concerned the best version is from 1947 in the original black and white.

Edmund Gwenn won an Oscar for his performance as a man named Kris Kringle. He looks like a real-life Santa who knows more about the North Pole elf than even the most dedicated Santa-geek.

In the movie, we meet Kris as he discovers a drunken Santa on the float of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade in New York City. He becomes the Macy store Santa who brings his own costume and charm along with a customer service attitude that surprises both customers and store leadership.

Miracle on 34th StreetHis grace and actual interest in others makes friends with many of his co-workers including Mr. Macy. Mrs. Walker who organizes the parade each year works to find a home for Kris. Meanwhile, Kris sees this as an opportunity to teach Mrs. Walker and her daughter, Susan, how to trust and have faith.

But when an incompetent psychologist is offended by Kris and works to have him committed, it takes Mrs. Walker’s lawyer neighbor, Fred Gaily, to keep Kris from being sent away forever.

This is a movie I have known by heart since I was in my teens. I know every scene, maybe not word by wordt, but certainly by how it all feels. Every time I watch it I notice something different. Maybe it is the way Kris and Albert talk to each other or how the rooms are decorated.

What never fails to catch my attention is how hope and faith are the focus of the story although we are never told if the Walker family are Christians or non-religious. These two parts of the story, the bedrock, depends on how we interact with others. They depend on how we treat others, what we expect, and what we expect to get back. In this case, we come to realize that Kris is motivated by the joy he sees in others when he gives them presents that have real meaning.

Edmund Gween Miracle IMDb com

Image from IMDb.com

This movie reveals the true meaning of the holiday, even for non-believers. It was a sentiment needed after a long war that was hard on many families. Hope, faith, joy. It’s all there.

The movie was an instant hit when it was released in June of 1947 and stayed in theater till the holiday season of that year. People needed, wanted the emotions displayed in this movie. And I think we are looking for all of that today. The question is how do we make this happen in our lives?

After all, not all of us can find a Kris Kringle for a Christmas intervention. Sometimes we have to create the intervention for ourselves.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.


Watching a Christmas Movie?

by Karyn Bowman

So what makes a good Christmas movie?

This time of year we all talk about what we like or don’t like in a Christmas movie. But it comes down to a few factors, two actually.

Redemption and Reconciliation.

After much thought and deliberation, it seems true that the best movies in this genre are all about the redemption of a lost soul or the reconciliation of a relationship whether it is between lovers or among family members.

Do I need to bring in a case in point?

Bruce Willis going through a window in "Die Hard." Image from IMDb.com

Bruce Willis going through a window in “Die Hard.” Image from IMDb.com

How about Die Hard? In this movie the good guy, that’s Bruce Willis, is visiting his wife and children in California. He is a New York City police office unwilling to move to California but he still loves his wife. So he comes to visit at her Christmas office party.

To say things go horrible wrong as terrorists invade the party would be an understatement. But with a few smart moves and a partnership with a Los Angeles police officer, McClain is able to save his wife and most of her co-workers. In the end, there is a satisfying reconciliation between the couple.

If you need more, there is always A Christmas Carol. Ebenezer find redemption from being a miser who cares about no one to a man who keeps the spirit of Christmas in his heart all year-long. Granted, he needs the help of four different ghosts and to see what lies ahead in the future if he does nothing. We stick around for the journey because we love the destination of Redemption.

What other movies can we label this way?

Poster image from IMDb.com

Poster image from IMDb.com

Elf   – Reconciliation and Redemption

It’s a Wonderful Life   –   Redemption

A Charlie Brown Christmas  – Redemption

A Christmas Story   –   Redemption

The Holiday  –  Redemption

Love Actually  –  Redemption and Reconciliation

The Cheaters  –  Redemption

Bad Santa  –   Redemption

The Santa Clause   –  Redemption

Miracle on 34th Street   – Redemption and Reconciliation

Any Hallmark Channel Christmas Movie  –  Redemption and Reconciliation

We could go on and on like this. The truth is if movie makers could figure out the perfect Christmas movie we would have more of them that are great. But perhaps we must remember Bette Davis who once shamed a reporter who tried to say there were many great movies in the vaults. She responded by saying that about 5 – 10 great movies were made on any given year but the rest were crap.

Christmas movies get us in the heart whether it is about a reindeer, a journey to the north pole, or an old man who says he is Santa when logic tells you there is no way that man could be Santa. I love watching them and know I will be doing a lot of that this weekend.

So what about your favorite Christmas movie? Is it about reconciliation or redemption?


After the Feasting…

Family Movie Night


By Karyn Bowman


Do you have thanksgiving traditions that must be honored?


For us it is the green bean casserole. The husband loves it and feels it must be on the table in order for the meal to be complete. The kids must have jellied cranberry sauce although one year I picked up whole berry by mistake. Kids hated it, the adults loved it.


I try to change things up a little every year. I might make a different side dish, put something a little different on the relish plate, or try a cheesecake instead of pie.


But this year I have no such plans. It will be our favorites all the way.


I feel the same way about the movies we will watch. I really want to keep it to the old favorites this year.


Image from IMDb.comThe husband and I will probably stay up to watch Planes, Trains and Automobiles which stars the late John Candy and Steve Martin. These two men are trying to get home for the holiday after a snowstorm takes down their plane from NYC, sends them on a train south of where they need to be before finally getting home. Martin plays the persnickety advertising agency guy while Candy is the likable traveling salesman.


That these guys are an odd couple who do not get along is a part of the usual plot. But they are relying on each other to get home to the ones that they love and that can make for different dynamics. I am also taken by the differences in their personalities. A guy can be pretty prickly when his home is all it needs to be and the outside world cannot compare. Another guy can be friendly and maybe a bit annoying when his home is missing the one he loves the most.


This movie is more adult in context and there are a few scenes that have innuendos that may not be appropriate for the younger kids.


Image from IMDb.com

For whole family watching, there is always Miracle on 34th Street about an old man who is considered crazy because he says he is Santa Claus. A new version with Richard Attenborough exists although I prefer the 1947 film with Edmund Gwynn as Kris Kringle. It is a movie I love and probably know the script by heart.


But let’s say you want something a little different with lots of noise, gun fights, and explosions. The other week our family finally watched Cowboys and Aliens. The movie follows a tradition western set up. A lone man comes to a town, manages to get into a fight with the son of the richest man in

Poster Image from IMDb.com

town and becomes a target.


Then the alien ships show up and steal some of the town’s people, including the rich man’s son. This is not going to be your usual posse and you may not believe how it all works out.

I found it was a good movie for pre-teens and up, although my 8-year-old watched it without any ill effects. And did I mention that Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford are in this movie? Their performances really make it worthwhile.


Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.


Thanksgiving’s Coming…

Family Movie Night


By Karyn Bowman


Next week is Thanksgiving already. Can you believe the year has gone so fast? Never mind that old chestnut; the better question is about what are any of us serving at the Thanksgiving.


What plans do I have for our menu?


Well, oyster stuffing is definitely on. Green Bean casserole in another must along with cranberry sauce


Another dish I plan on is Sweet Potato Casserole with a pecan topping. I love mashed sweet potatoes but my family is not so thrilled about them. That is until last year when I made up the topping with some pecans I happen to have in my pantry. I mixed the chopped nuts with a little flour, butter and brown sugar before spreading it on top of the mashed sweet potatoes already in a casserole dish. In the oven it went to get crunchy on top.


This was a Big hit!


As we make the ramp up to the holiday, I am sure there are a few movies that people like me say are “must see” because they focus on the turmoil and dysfunction of family get-togethers.



Poster Image from IMDb.com

How can you do Thanksgiving without watching Home For the Holidays with Holly Hunter and Robert Downey Jr. as they go home again. This movie – not meant for anyone younger than teenagers because of the context – has its bitter moments and sweet moments.


Another Thanksgiving adult-only feature is Pieces of April starring Katie Holmes as a young woman trying to turn her life around. She decides to show her family how well she is doing by hosting Thanksgiving in her NYC apartment. Problems start with a broken oven and continue with a mom having issues.


Image from IMDb.com

My personal favorite movie to watch during the Thanksgiving holiday is family friendly Miracle on 34th Street.But I am a sucker for sappy movies about mythological characters that want to inspire good in the world.


That aspect lead me to the summer movie now on DVD, Brave.


Set in the Scottish Highlands, we meet Merida , a young girl who is on the edge of adulthood. But she and her mother do not see eye-to-eye. That could not be more true as her family prepares for the Highland Games that will determine whom Merida will marry.


That is when Merida goes to find the witch to produce a spell to help her mother see her point of view. But you know it is never that easy. Things go wrong and now the girl has to find a way to undo all that she has done.


Poster Image from IMDb.com

Disney put out a movie a few years ago called Brother Bear that worked on a similar premise although it it was the main character who was turned into a bear. I was not fond of that movie and felt it missed something.


Brave perhaps touches closer to home for me because my kids are head strong and want their way. I connected with the mother as voiced by Emma Thompson. But I can also get how the daughter wants her freedom. Merida ’s solutions may not be the right ones at first but they are certainly interesting.


Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Family Movie Night


by Karyn Bowman


This week is Thanksgiving.


Image by Jzlomek

At the quiet moments we are trying to remember why we are thankful. We are happy for having a job, having a roof over our head and the ability to put on this meal. We are thankful for healthy kids and good enough health for ourselves.


All of us have friends and relatives going through rough patches – lost jobs or serious health issues. My cousins are mourning the loss of their mother just two Thanksgivings ago. I pray for their hearts to be healed even though I can’t imagine losing my mother yet.


In the hustle and bustle of this holiday, there is cooking to be done and favorite dishes to get on the table. Green bean casserole, mashed sweet potatoes, mince meat pie, and pumpkin pie. And don’t forget the whipped cream. Some of you may enjoy the tussle of Black Friday shopping or giving a local business some money on Small Business Saturday.


There is no doubt this will be one busy week.


It is also the beginning of the holiday season, the ramp up to Christmas and all that goes with it. Band concerts, holiday plays, parties, sports tournaments.


So what do you do to relax?


When it comes to family watching movies together, it can be tricky. Our whole immediate family loves Kung Fu Panda. Perhaps it is because we like Jack Black but this movie is really fun. My dad is not a big fan and has said “I am not watching a Panda movie.” Fair enough, I say.


Finding that middle ground movie can be difficult. My dad likes movies with chase scenes and explosion that I do not appreciate for their language content. Perhaps that is why some holiday movies surpass all of that. They allow all family members to have something everyone can relate to without being too objectionable.



Poster image from IMDb.com

Movies such as Miracle on 34th Street and What a Wonderful Life are heart warming movies that everyone could watch although I do not think many kids are really interested in the latter movie.


That is when you bring out movies such as Elf in which Will Ferrell plays a man who was a foundling that found its way into Santa’s bag and the North Pole. Once he becomes a super-sized adult, Santa lets Buddy the elf know his true heritage and sends him on his way to New York City to find his father.


It is a magical movie with a great chase scene and some great comedic moments. Most of it is pretty safe for kids. But here is hoping they do not ask you to decorate the house as fast as Buddy can.


Poster image from IMDb.com

There is one movie I would suggest for the weekend is The Nativity Story starring Kasha Castle-Hughes as Mary, the mother of Jesus. Many people will recount how Christ is being taken out of Christmas but how are they keeping him there? I find that when I watch this movie about Mary and her life in the months before the baby Jesus is born, I gain greater understanding of both Mary and Joseph.


The movie allows us to better appreciate the times in which Mary and Joseph were living as well as how the dangers of their trip to Bethlehem. Director Catherine Hardwicke put together a rich movie filled with the sights and sounds of the era that recounts a story many of know by heart in parts. The other parts, she has brought to life so that we can imagine these miracles once more.



Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

The Gratitude Shine

I was thinking about writing on thankfulness today with the big holiday coming up.

Perhaps it is a desire to remind myself that – even when I mess up, blow deadlines and have a generally yucky feeling – life is pretty good. My family is healthy, I have a job as does my husband and while we do not have a lot of money we do have enough.

That idea was totally blown out of the water when I read “Gratitude, Shmatitude” at Snide Reply. How right she is that sometimes you have to deal with what is at the moment and gratitude has to wait some days.

The strange thing is that it reminded me of a life lesson found in a Star Trek movie. Spock’s human brother is a healer who takes away the emotional pain that the roughest situations give us. Dr. McCoy in particular has become a believer as he never got over the guilt of taking his father off of life support one week before a cure for McCoy’s father’s illness was discovered.

It is at this moment that Captain Kirk refuses, stating that the worst moments of our lives are what shapes and forms us. Would Dr. McCoy had become a less able doctor if his father’s experience had not propelled him? We need those times to push us and eat at us to make ourselves better.

I am going to think about that as my frozen rock of a turkey slowly thaws and perhaps be cook-able tomorrow. I will think about that as I put up Christmas lights on the warmest Thanksgiving in years. I will think about it all as I watch Miracle on 34th Street for the umpteenth time.

That is not going to stop me from feeling grateful for the good things because I learned long ago there are always going to be people trying to drag you down. Some people are happiest when they are dragging you down. Some people think cynicism is hip when it is really hiding from your own emotions. I have been one of those persons at different times in my life and I am not going back there. If that means I have to shine the light of gratitude to keep from sliding down the slope of despair, I am doing it.

But here is what I am not doing. I am not joining a gratitude group or keeping a gratitude journal. Some days, I will go to bed angrier than a red hen at something stupid the husband has done and forget to think of things that make me grateful. (Like no one else has ever done that.) Nor am I going to force you to state how you feel grateful for something or chide you when life puts you on the negative side of the fence. I have cousins whose mother died two years ago at this time and telling them to be grateful they had her as long as they did is a bit cruel and stupid.

What I am still going to do is be happy for what I do have because as far as I can tell, I have it pretty good. It has not always been easy but my life is easier than a lot of other people. And that makes me feel lucky and good.

If that is gratitude, well, so be it.