Daily Archives: December 21, 2009

Welcome to 44’D’s Happy Holiday’s Special

We here at The 44 Diaries would like to say Thank You for participating in our blog and we hope that you all have a happy holiday and a prosperous new year. We also hope that you get to spend plenty of time with the people you love the most…

Please note: We will be keeping this up all week in celebration, but will be posting political news in the top section next to ‘Home’.


History of Christmas




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Origins and Traditions of Hanukkah

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Celebrating Kwanzaa



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Santa Claus Through History



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Famous and Not-So Famous Christmas Movies List

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The History of Christmas at the White House 1789-2009

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Twenty-Five Days of Christmas Music Videos

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Christmas Around the World



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Fun Filled Christmas Facts



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Christmas in the Age of Dickens

Christmas in the Age of Dickens



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Amazing Christmas Truce of 1914



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Holiday Season at the White House with the Obama’s 2009




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The History of Christmas

People all over the world celebrate the birth of Christ on December 25th. But why is the Nativity marked by gift giving, and was He really born on that day? And just where did the Christmas tree come from? Take an enchanting tour through the history of this beloved holiday and trace the origins of its enduring traditions. Journey back to the earliest celebrations when the infant religion embraced pagan solstice festivals like the Roman Saturnalia and turned them into a commemoration of Jesus’ birth. Learn how Prince Albert introduced the Christmas tree to the English-speaking world in 1841, and discover how British settlers in the New World transformed the patron saint of children into jolly old St. Nick.

We’re going to explore the origin of Christmas and how it came to be the way we know it today.

An Ancient Holiday

Norse God Oden

The middle of winter has long been a time of celebration around the world. Centuries before the arrival of the man called Jesus, early Europeans celebrated light and birth in the darkest days of winter. Many peoples rejoiced during the winter solstice, when the worst of the winter was behind them and they could look forward to longer days and extended hours of sunlight.

In Scandinavia, the Norse celebrated Yule from December 21, the winter solstice, through January. In recognition of the return of the sun, fathers and sons would bring home large logs, which they would set on fire. The people would feast until the log burned out, which could take as many as 12 days. The Norse believed that each spark from the fire represented a new pig or calf that would be born during the coming year.

The Yule Log

The end of December was a perfect time for celebration in most areas of Europe. At that time of year, most cattle were slaughtered so they would not have to be fed during the winter. For many, it was the only time of year when they had a supply of fresh meat. In addition, most wine and beer made during the year was finally fermented and ready for drinking.

In Germany, people honored the pagan god Oden during the mid-winter holiday. Germans were terrified of Oden, as they believed he made nocturnal flights through the sky to observe his people, and then decide who would prosper or perish. Because of his presence, many people chose to stay inside.
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Saturnalia

Ancient Romans Celebrating Saturnalia

In Rome, where winters were not as harsh as those in the far north, Saturnalia—a holiday in honor of Saturn, the god of agriculture—was celebrated. Beginning in the week leading up to the winter solstice and continuing for a full month, Saturnalia was a hedonistic time, when food and drink were plentiful and the normal Roman social order was turned upside down. For a month, slaves would become masters. Peasants were in command of the city. Business and schools were closed so that everyone could join in the fun.

Also around the time of the winter solstice, Romans observed Juvenalia, a feast honoring the children of Rome. In addition, members of the upper classes often celebrated the birthday of Mithra, the god of the unconquerable sun, on December 25. It was believed that Mithra, an infant god, was born of a rock. For some Romans, Mithra’s birthday was the most sacred day of the year.

In the early years of Christianity, Easter was the main holiday; the birth of Jesus was not celebrated. In the fourth century, church officials decided to institute the birth of Jesus as a holiday. Unfortunately, the Bible does not mention date for his birth (a fact Puritans later pointed out in order to deny the legitimacy of the celebration). Although some evidence suggests that his birth may have occurred in the spring (why would shepherds be herding in the middle of winter?), Pope Julius I chose December 25. It is commonly believed that the church chose this date in an effort to adopt and absorb the traditions of the pagan Saturnalia festival. First called the Feast of the Nativity, the custom spread to Egypt by 432 and to England by the end of the sixth century. By the end of the eighth century, the celebration of Christmas had spread all the way to Scandinavia. Today, in the Greek and Russian orthodox churches, Christmas is celebrated 13 days after the 25th, which is also referred to as the Epiphany or Three Kings Day. This is the day it is believed that the three wise men finally found Jesus in the manger.

Lord of Misrule

By holding Christmas at the same time as traditional winter solstice festivals, church leaders increased the chances that Christmas would be popularly embraced, but gave up the ability to dictate how it was celebrated. By the Middle Ages, Christianity had, for the most part, replaced pagan religion. On Christmas, believers attended church, then celebrated raucously in a drunken, carnival-like atmosphere similar to today’s Mardi Gras. Each year, a beggar or student would be crowned the “lord of misrule” and eager celebrants played the part of his subjects. The poor would go to the houses of the rich and demand their best food and drink. If owners failed to comply, their visitors would most likely terrorize them with mischief. Christmas became the time of year when the upper classes could repay their real or imagined “debt” to society by entertaining less fortunate citizens.
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An Outlaw Christmas

In the early 17th century, a wave of religious reform changed the way Christmas was celebrated in Europe. When Oliver Cromwell and his Puritan forces took over England in 1645, they vowed to rid England of decadence and, as part of their effort, canceled Christmas. By popular demand, Charles II was restored to the throne and, with him, came the return of the popular holiday.

The pilgrims, English separatists that came to America in 1620, were even more orthodox in their Puritan beliefs than Cromwell. As a result, Christmas was not a holiday in early America. From 1659 to 1681, the celebration of Christmas was actually outlawed in Boston. Anyone exhibiting the Christmas spirit was fined five shillings. By contrast, in the Jamestown settlement, Captain John Smith reported that Christmas was enjoyed by all and passed without incident.

After the American Revolution, English customs fell out of favor, including Christmas. In fact, Congress was in session on December 25, 1789, the first Christmas under America’s new constitution. Christmas wasn’t declared a federal holiday until June 26, 1870.
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Christmas Reinvented

It wasn’t until the 19th century that Americans began to embrace Christmas. Americans re-invented Christmas, and changed it from a raucous carnival holiday into a family-centered day of peace and nostalgia. But what about the 1800s peaked American interest in the holiday?

The early 19th century was a period of class conflict and turmoil. During this time, unemployment was high and gang rioting by the disenchanted classes often occurred during the Christmas season. In 1828, the New York city council instituted the city’s first police force in response to a Christmas riot. This catalyzed certain members of the upper classes to begin to change the way Christmas was celebrated in America.

In 1819, best-selling author Washington Irving wrote The Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon, gent., a series of stories about the celebration of Christmas in an English manor house. The sketches feature a squire who invited the peasants into his home for the holiday. In contrast to the problems faced in American society, the two groups mingled effortlessly. In Irving’s mind, Christmas should be a peaceful, warm-hearted holiday bringing groups together across lines of wealth or social status. Irving’s fictitious celebrants enjoyed “ancient customs,” including the crowning of a Lord of Misrule. Irving’s book, however, was not based on any holiday celebration he had attended – in fact, many historians say that Irving’s account actually “invented” tradition by implying that it described the true customs of the season.
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A Christmas Carol

Also around this time, English author Charles Dickens created the classic holiday tale, A Christmas Carol. The story’s message-the importance of charity and good will towards all humankind-struck a powerful chord in the United States and England and showed members of Victorian society the benefits of celebrating the holiday.

1881 illustration by Thomas Nast who, with Clement Clarke Moore, helped to create the modern image of Santa Claus.

The family was also becoming less disciplined and more sensitive to the emotional needs of children during the early 1800s. Christmas provided families with a day when they could lavish attention-and gifts-on their children without appearing to “spoil” them.

As Americans began to embrace Christmas as a perfect family holiday, old customs were unearthed. People looked toward recent immigrants and Catholic and Episcopalian churches to see how the day should be celebrated. In the next 100 years, Americans built a Christmas tradition all their own that included pieces of many other customs, including decorating trees, sending holiday cards, and gift-giving.

Although most families quickly bought into the idea that they were celebrating Christmas how it had been done for centuries, Americans had really re-invented a holiday to fill the cultural needs of a growing nation.

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Origins and Traditions of Hanukkah

Hanukkah (also known as Chanukah, Hanukah, Hannuka and the Festival of Lights) is an eight-day Jewish holiday that usually takes place between late November and late December. It commemorates the victory of the Maccabees, a Jewish rebel army, over the Syrians in 165 B.C.E., as well as the subsequent re-dedication of the holy Temple in Jerusalem. Jews around the world celebrate with eight nights of merriment. Traditions include lighting the menorah, exchanging gifts and enjoying treats cooked in oil.

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The History of Hanukkah

Hanukkah is celebrated for eight days and nights, starting on the 25th of Kislev on the Hebrew calendar (which is November-December on the Gregorian calendar). In Hebrew, the word “Hanukkah” means “dedication.”

The holiday commemorates the re-dedication of the holy Temple in Jerusalem after the Jews’ 165 B.C.E. victory over the Hellenist Syrians. Antiochus, the Greek King of Syria, outlawed Jewish rituals and ordered the Jews to worship Greek gods.

In 168 B.C.E. the Jews’ holy Temple was seized and dedicated to the worship of Zeus.

Some Jews were afraid of the Greek soldiers and obeyed them, but most were angry and decided to fight back.

The fighting began in Modiin, a village not far from Jerusalem. A Greek officer and soldiers assembled the villagers, asking them to bow to an idol and eat the flesh of a pig, activities forbidden to Jews. The officer asked Mattathias, a Jewish High Priest, to take part in the ceremony. He refused, and another villager stepped forward and offered to do it instead. Mattathias became outraged, took out his sword and killed the man, then killed the officer. His five sons and the other villagers then attacked and killed the soldiers. Mattathias’ family went into hiding in the nearby mountains, where many other Jews who wanted to fight the Greeks joined them. They attacked the Greek soldiers whenever possible.

Judah Maccabee and his soldiers went to the holy Temple, and were saddened that many things were missing or broken, including the golden menorah. They cleaned and repaired the Temple, and when they were finished, they decided to have a big dedication ceremony. For the celebration, the Maccabees wanted to light the menorah. They looked everywhere for oil, and found a small flask that contained only enough oil to light the menorah for one day. Miraculously, the oil lasted for eight days. This gave them enough time to obtain new oil to keep the menorah lit. Today Jews celebrate Hanukkah for eight days by lighting candles in a menorah every night, thus commemorating the eight-day miracle.

Hanukkah Traditions

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The Menorah
On each night of Hanukkah, the menorah is lit to commemorate a miracle which occurred after the Jews proclaimed victory over the Syrian armies in 165 B.C.E. When Jews came to rededicate the Temple-which had been defiled by the Syrians-they found only one small flask of oil with which to light the menorah. This flask contained only enough oil for one day, yet the lamp burned for eight days (by which time a fresh supply of oil was obtained).

  • In Israel, the Hanukkah menorah is called the Hanukiyah
    Menorahs come in all shapes and sizes. The only requirement is that the flames are separated enough so that they will not look too big and resemble a pagan bonfire.

  • Ancient menorahs were made of clay. They consisted of small, pearl shaped vessels, each with its own wick, which were arranged side-by-side.
  • Today’s menorah, which stands on a base from which the branches sprout, resembles the holy Temple’s menorah and started to appear towards the end of the Middle Ages.

Latkes at Hanukkah

Classic Potato Latkes

Classic Potato Latkes

The most popular themes throughout the Hanukkah dishes are the use of oil. The oil reminds us of the oil which burned eight days instead of one. Latkes are potato pancakes made from grated potatoes mixed with eggs, onions, and flour, then fried in vegetable oil. The texture is crispy on the outside and tender within. They’re served hot and often dipped in apple sauce or sour cream. The Maccabbee soliders ate latkes made from cheese, vegetables, or fruits which were brought to them on the battlefields. However, they didn’t eat potato latkes, as potatoes weren’t available until the 16th century.

Hanukkah Dreidel
The dreidel is a four-sided spinning top with a Hebrew letter inscribed on each side. In America the letters stand for “A Great Miracle Happened There“. In Israel the letters mean “A Miracle Happened Here“. Each player receives a given number of coins or candy pieces. Before spinning the dreidel, each player puts a fixed proportion of the amount received into the “kupah” or kitty. Each player in turn spins the dreidel. When the dreidel falls, it will fall on one of the 4 letters. According to the letter, the following will happen: Nun – no win / no lose Gimmel – take all (from the kitty) Heh – take half (from the kitty) Peh or Shin – lose (what you deposited) The game continues until players have run out of ‘funds’ or it is agreed to stop (anyone losing all funds is out of the game). The dreidel game was popular during the rule of Antiochus before the Maccabees’ revolt, a time when soldiers executed any Jews who were caught practicing their religion. When pious Jews gathered to study the Torah, they had the top ready in case they heard soliders approaching. If the soldiers appeared, they would hide the holy scriptures and pretend to play with the dreidl. In Israel the dreidel is called a sivivon. The yiddish word “dreidel” is derived from the German word “drehen“, or “turn“.

Sufganiyot – Hanukkah Jelly Donuts
Sufganiyot, fried foods recall the oil that burned in the temple

Sufganiyot, fried foods recall the oil that burned in the temple

Sufganiyot are jelly doughnuts without the hole. They’re dropped into hot oil without being shaped and come out in odd, funny shapes, then covered in powdered sugar and/or cinnamon. Sufganiyot are particularly popular in Israel, where they are sold on stands in the streets over a month before Hanukkah begins. Some great recipes can be found here.

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Helpful Information and Related Articles

The White House Hanukkah Celebration 2009
Hanukkah Food and Entertaining
Hanukkah Decorating
Hanukkah Gifts and Cards
Hanukkah Games and Songs


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Celebrating Kwanzaa

The History of Kwanzaa

Dr. Maulana Karenga, professor and chairman of Black Studies at California State University, Long Beach, created Kwanzaa in 1966. After the Watts riots in Los Angeles, Dr. Karenga searched for ways to bring African-Americans together as a community. He founded US, a cultural organization, and started to research African “first fruit” (harvest) celebrations. Karenga combined aspects of several different harvest celebrations, such as those of the Ashanti and those of the Zulu, to form the basis of Kwanzaa.

The name Kwanzaa is derived from the phrase “matunda ya kwanza” which means “first fruits” in Swahili. Each family celebrates Kwanzaa in its own way, but celebrations often include songs and dances, African drums, storytelling, poetry reading, and a large traditional meal. On each of the seven nights, the family gathers and a child lights one of the candles on the Kinara (candleholder), then one of the seven principles is discussed. The principles, called the Nguzo Saba (seven principles in Swahili) are values of African culture which contribute to building and reinforcing community among African-Americans. Kwanzaa also has seven basic symbols which represent values and concepts reflective of African culture. Click here for the symbols. An African feast, called a Karamu, is held on December 31.

The candle-lighting ceremony each evening provides the opportunity to gather and discuss the meaning of Kwanzaa. The first night, the black candle in the center is lit (and the principle of umoja/unity is discussed). One candle is lit each evening and the appropriate principle is discussed.

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The Seven Principles

The seven principles, or Nguzo Saba are a set of ideals created by Dr. Maulana Karenga. Each day of Kwanzaa emphasizes a different principle.

Unity Umoja (oo–MO–jah)
To strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.

Self-determination Kujichagulia (koo–gee–cha–goo–LEE–yah)
To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves, and speak for ourselves.

Collective Work and Responsibility Ujima (oo–GEE–mah)
To build and maintain our community together and make our brother’s and sister’s problems our problems and to solve them together.

Cooperative Economics Ujamaa (oo–JAH–mah)
To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together.

Purpose Nia (nee–YAH)
To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.

Creativity Kuumba (koo–OOM–bah)
To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.

Faith Imani (ee–MAH–nee)
To believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.

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The Seven Symbols

Mazao Fruits, Nuts, and Vegetables
Mazao, the crops (fruits, nuts, and vegetables), symbolizes work and the basis of the holiday. It represents the historical foundation for Kwanzaa, the gathering of the people that is patterned after African harvest festivals in which joy, sharing, unity, and thanksgiving are the fruits of collective planning and work. Since the family is the basic social and economic center of every civilization, the celebration bonded family members, reaffirming their commitment and responsibility to each other. In Africa the family may have included several generations of two or more nuclear families, as well as distant relatives. Ancient Africans didn’t care how large the family was, but there was only one leader – the oldest male of the strongest group. For this reason, an entire village may have been composed of one family. The family was a limb of a tribe that shared common customs, cultural traditions, and political unity and were supposedly descended from common ancestors. The tribe lived by traditions that provided continuity and identity. Tribal laws often determined the value system, laws, and customs encompassing birth, adolescence, marriage, parenthood, maturity, and death. Through personal sacrifice and hard work, the farmers sowed seeds that brought forth new plant life to feed the people and other animals of the earth. To demonstrate their mazao, celebrants of Kwanzaa place nuts, fruit, and vegetables, representing work, on the mkeka.

Mkeka Place Mat
Mkeka Place MatThe mkeka, made from straw or cloth, comes directly from Africa and expresses history, culture, and tradition. It symbolizes the historical and traditional foundation for us to stand on and build our lives because today stands on our yesterdays, just as the other symbols stand on the mkeka. In 1965, James Baldwin wrote: “For history is not merely something to be read. And it does not refer merely, or even principally, to the past. On the contrary, the great force of history comes from the facts that we carry it within us, are consciously controlled by it in many ways, and history is literally present in all that we do. It could scarcely be otherwise, since it is to history that we owe our frames of reference, our identities, and our aspirations.” During Kwanzaa, we study, recall, and reflect on our history and the role we are to play as a legacy to the future. Ancient societies made mats from straw, the dried seams of grains, sowed and reaped collectively. The weavers took the stalks and created household baskets and mats. Today, we buy mkeka that are made from Kente cloth, African mud cloth, and other textiles from various areas of the African continent. The mishumaa saba, the vibunzi, the mazao, the zawadi, the kikombe cha umoja, and the kinara are placed directly on the mkeka.

Vibunzi Ear of Corn
Ears of Corn The stalk of corn represents fertility and symbolizes that through the reproduction of children, the future hopes of the family are brought to life. One ear is called vibunzi, and two or more ears are called mihindi. Each ear symbolizes a child in the family, and thus one ear is placed on the mkeka for each child in the family. If there are no children in the home, two ears are still set on the mkeka because each person is responsible for the children of the community. During Kwanzaa, we take the love and nurturance that was heaped on us as children and selflessly return it to all children, especially the helpless, homeless, loveless ones in our community. Thus, the Nigerian proverb “It takes a whole village to raise a child” is realized in this symbol (vibunzi), since raising a child in Africa was a community affair, involving the tribal village, as well as the family. Good habits of respect for self and others, discipline, positive thinking, expectations, compassion, empathy, charity, and self-direction are learned in childhood from parents, from peers, and from experiences. Children are essential to Kwanzaa, for they are the future, the seed bearers that will carry cultural values and practices into the next generation. For this reason, children were cared for communally and individually within a tribal village. The biological family was ultimately responsible for raising its own children, but every person in the village was responsible for the safety and welfare of all the children.

Mishumaa Saba The Seven Candles
Candles are ceremonial objects with two primary purposes: to re-create symbolically the sun’s power and to provide light. The celebration of fire through candle burning is not limited to one particular group or country; it occurs everywhere. Mishumaa saba are the seven candles: three red, three green, and one black. The back candle symbolizes Umoja (unity), the basis of success, and is lit on December 26. The three green candles, representing Nia, Ujima, and Imani, are placed to the right of the Umoja candle, while the three red candles, representing Kujichagulia, Ujamaa, and Kuumba, are placed to the left of it. During Kwanzaa, on candle, representing one principle, is lit each day. Then the other candles are relit to give off more light and vision. The number of candles burning also indicate the principle that is being celebrated. The illuminating fire of the candles is a basic element of the universe, and every celebration and festival includes fire in some form. Fire’s mystique, like the sun, is irresistible and can destroy or create with its mesmerizing, frightening, mystifying power.

Mishumaa saba’s symbolic colors are from the red, black, and green flag (bendara) created by Marcus Garvey. The colors also represent African gods. Red is the color of Shango, the Yoruba god of fire, thunder, and lightning, who lives in the clouds and sends down his thunderbolt whenever he is angry or offended. It also represents the struggle for self-determination and freedom by people of color. Black is the people, the earth, the source of life, representing hope, creativity, and faith and denoting messages and the opening and closing of doors. Green represents the earth that sustains our lives and provides hope, divination, employment, and the fruits of the harvest

Kinara The Candleholder
The kinara is the center of the Kwanzaa setting and represents the original stalk from which we came: our ancestry. The kinara can be shape – straight lines, semicircles, or spirals – as long as the seven candles are separate and distinct, like a candelabra. Kinaras are made from all kinds of materials, and many celebrants create their own from fallen branches, wood, or other natural materials. The kinara symbolizes the ancestors, who were once earth bound; understand the problems of human life; and are willing to protect their progeny from danger, evil, and mistakes. In African festivals the ancestors are remembered and honored. The mishumaa saba are placed in the kinara.

Kikombe Cha Umoja The Unity Cup
The kikombe cha umoja is a special cup that is used to perform the libation (tambiko) ritual during the Karamu feast on the sixth day of Kwanzaa. In many African societies libation are poured for the living dead whose souls stay with the earth they tilled. The Ibo of Nigeria believe that to drink the last portion of a libation is to invite the wrath of the spirits and the ancestors; consequently, the last part of the libation belongs to the ancestors. During the Karamu feast, the kikombe cha umoja is passed to family member and guests, who drink from it to promote unity. Then, the eldest person present pours the libation (tambiko), usually water, juice, or wine, in the direction of the four winds – north, south, east, and west – to honor the ancestors. The eldest asks the gods and ancestors to share in the festivities and, in return, to bless all the people who are not at the gathering. After asking for this blessing, the elder pours the libation on the ground and the group says “Amen.” Large Kwanzaa gatherings may operate just as communion services in most churches, for which it is common for celebrants to have individual cups and to drink the libation together as a sign of unity. Several families may have a cup that is specifically for the ancestors, and everyone else has his or her own. The last few ounces of the libation are poured into the cup of the host or hostess, who sips it and then hands it to the oldest person in the group, who asks for the blessing.

Zawadi Gifts
When we celebrate Imani on the seventh day of Kwanzaa, we give meaningful zawadi (gifts) to encourage growth, self-determination, achievement, and success. We exchange the gifts with members of our immediate family, especially the children, to promote or reward accomplishments and commitments kept, as well as with our guests. Handmade gifts are encouraged to promote self-determination, purpose, and creativity and to avoid the chaos of shopping and conspicuous consumption during the December holiday season. A family may spend the year making kinaras or may create cards, dolls, or mkekas to give to their guests. Accepting a gift implies a moral obligation to fulfill the promise of the gift; it obliges the recipient to follow the training of the host. The gift cements social relationships, allowing the receiver to share the duties and the rights of a family member. Accepting a gift makes the receiver part of the family and promotes Umoja.

Excerpted from the book: The Complete Kwanzaa Celebrating Our Cultural Harvest. Copyright 1995 by Dorothy Winbush Riley. Reprinted with permission from HarperPerennial, a division of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Santa Claus Through History

The man we know as Santa Claus has a history all his own. Keep reading to find information about the history of Santa Claus, his earliest origins, and how he became the jolly man in red that we know today.

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The Legend of St. Nicholas

Saint Nicholas

Saint Nicholas

The legend of Santa Claus can be traced back hundreds of years to a monk named St. Nicholas. It is believed that Nicholas was born sometime around 280 A.D. in Patara, near Myra in modern-day Turkey. Much admired for his piety and kindness, St. Nicholas became the subject of many legends. It is said that he gave away all of his inherited wealth and traveled the countryside helping the poor and sick. One of the best known of the St. Nicholas stories is that he saved three poor sisters from being sold into slavery or prostitution by their father by providing them with a dowry so that they could be married. Over the course of many years, Nicholas’s popularity spread and he became known as the protector of children and sailors. His feast day is celebrated on the anniversary of his death, December 6. This was traditionally considered a lucky day to make large purchases or to get married. By the Renaissance, St. Nicholas was the most popular saint in Europe. Even after the Protestant Reformation, when the veneration of saints began to be discouraged, St. Nicholas maintained a positive reputation, especially in Holland.

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Sinter Klass Comes to New York

Sinter Klaas

Sinter Klaas

St. Nicholas made his first inroads into American popular culture towards the end of the 18th century. In December 1773, and again in 1774, a New York newspaper reported that groups of Dutch families had gathered to honor the anniversary of his death.

The name Santa Claus evolved from Nick’s Dutch nickname, Sinter Klaas, a shortened form of Sint Nikolaas (Dutch for Saint Nicholas). In 1804, John Pintard, a member of the New York Historical Society, distributed woodcuts of St. Nicholas at the society’s annual meeting. The background of the engraving contains now-familiar Santa images including stockings filled with toys and fruit hung over a fireplace. In 1809, Washington Irving helped to popularize the Sinter Klaas stories when he referred to St. Nicholas as the patron saint of New York in his book, The History of New York. As his prominence grew, Sinter Klaas was described as everything from a “rascal” with a blue three-cornered hat, red waistcoat, and yellow stockings to a man wearing a broad-brimmed hat and a “huge pair of Flemish trunk hose.”

Shopping Mall Santas

Gift-giving, mainly centered around children, has been an important part of the Christmas celebration since the holiday’s rejuvenation in the early 19th century. Stores began to advertise Christmas shopping in 1820, and by the 1840s, newspapers were creating separate sections for holiday advertisements, which often featured images of the newly-popular Santa Claus. In 1841, thousands of children visited a Philadelphia shop to see a life-size Santa Claus model. It was only a matter of time before stores began to attract children, and their parents, with the lure of a peek at a “live” Santa Claus. In the early 1890s, the Salvation Army needed money to pay for the free Christmas meals they provided to needy families. They began dressing up unemployed men in Santa Claus suits and sending them into the streets of New York to solicit donations. Those familiar Salvation Army Santas have been ringing bells on the street corners of American cities ever since.

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas

In 1822, Clement Clarke Moore, an Episcopal minister, wrote a long Christmas poem for his three daughters entitled, “An Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas.” Moore’s poem, which he was initially hesitant to publish due to the frivolous nature of its subject, is largely responsible for our modern image of Santa Claus as a “right jolly old elf” with a portly figure and the supernatural ability to ascend a chimney with a mere nod of his head! Although some of Moore’s imagery was probably borrowed from other sources, his poem helped to popularize Christmas Eve – Santa Claus waiting for the children to get to sleep the now-familiar idea of a Santa Claus who flew from house to house on Christmas Eve – in “a miniature sleigh” led by eight flying reindeer, whom he also named – leaving presents for deserving children. “An Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas,” created a new and immediately popular American icon. In 1881, political cartoonist Thomas Nast drew on Moore’s poem to create the first likeness that matches our modern image of Santa Claus. His cartoon, which appeared in Harper’s Weekly, depicted Santa as a rotund, cheerful man with a full, white beard, holding a sack laden with toys for lucky children. It is Nast who gave Santa his bright red suit trimmed with white fur, North Pole workshop, elves, and his wife, Mrs. Claus.

The Many Names of Santa

18th-century America’s Santa Claus was not the only St. Nicholas-inspired gift-giver to make an appearance at Christmastime. Similar figures were popular all over the world. Christkind or Kris Kringle was believed to deliver presents to well-behaved Swiss and German children. Meaning “Christ child,” Christkind is an angel-like figure often accompanied by St. Nicholas on his holiday missions. In Scandinavia, a jolly elf named Jultomten was thought to deliver gifts in a sleigh drawn by goats. English legend explains that Father Christmas visits each home on Christmas Eve to fill children’s stockings with holiday treats. Pere Noel is responsible for filling the shoes of French children. In Russia, it is believed that an elderly woman named Babouschka purposely gave the wise men wrong directions to Bethlehem so that they couldn’t find Jesus. Later, she felt remorseful, but could not find the men to undo the damage. To this day, on January 5, Babouschka visits Russian children leaving gifts at their bedsides in the hope that one of them is the baby Jesus and she will be forgiven. In Italy, a similar story exists about a woman called La Befana, a kindly witch who rides a broomstick down the chimneys of Italian homes to deliver toys into the stockings of lucky children.

Rudolph: The Ninth Reindeer

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer

Rudolph, “the most famous reindeer of all,” was born over a hundred years after his eight flying counterparts. The red-nosed wonder was the creation of Robert L. May, a copywriter at the Montgomery Ward department store.

In 1939, May wrote a Christmas-themed story-poem to help bring holiday traffic into his store. Using a similar rhyme pattern to Moore’s “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas,” May told the story of Rudolph, a young reindeer who was teased by the other deer because of his large, glowing, red nose. But, When Christmas Eve turned foggy and Santa worried that he wouldn’t be able to deliver gifts that night, the former outcast saved Christmas by leading the sleigh by the light of his red nose. Rudolph’s message—that given the opportunity, a liability can be turned into an asset—proved popular. Montgomery Ward sold almost two and a half million copies of the story in 1939. When it was reissued in 1946, the book sold over three and half million copies. Several years later, one of May’s friends, Johnny Marks, wrote a short song based on Rudolph’s story (1949). It was recorded by Gene Autry and sold over two million copies. Since then, the story has been translated into 25 languages and been made into a television movie, narrated by Burl Ives, which has charmed audiences every year since 1964.

Yes, kiddies, Santa is smoking...bad Santa! 😉




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44-D’s Famous and Not-So Famous Christmas Movies List



A holiday tradition for my family has always been watching classic Christmas movies. It just isn’t the holidays until snow is falling outside and an Xmas film is on the television.

With that in mind, you’ll find many famous Christmas movies in the page below. Some of them are famous classics, but there a quite a few you might not know about. Check them out and maybe you’ll find a new film to add to your family’s Christmas movie favorites list.~AudieGrl Note: The films below are listed in chronological order.

The Classics 1935-1979


Scrooge (1935)

ScroogeScrooge, the ultimate Victorian miser, hasn’t a good word for Christmas, though his impoverished clerk Cratchit and nephew Fred are full of holiday spirit. But in the night, Scrooge is visited by spirits of another color. This was the second time Seymour Hicks had portrayed Ebenezer Scrooge on film. The first was in Scrooge (1913) which was released in 1913, 22 years earlier.

Quote
Fred: I believe it has done me good and will do me good, and I say God bless it!
Bob Cratchit: Hear hear! Hear hear!
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Holiday Inn (1942)

Holiday InnJim Hardy and Ted Hanover have been vaudeville partners for many years but when Ted announces that he and Jim’s girlfriend, dancer Lila Dixon, are going to set off on their own, Jim decides the time has come to retire. He buys himself a farmhouse in New England and settles into the country life but soon realizes that he has an opportunity to do something special. He decides to open his inn to the public, but only on major holidays. Things are going well for him until his old partner Ted shows up and sets his sights on Jim’s new friend, Linda Mason. The film introduced the song White Christmas.

Quote
Ted Hanover: Then I had a drink.
Jim Hardy: A drink? Boy you were fractured!
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Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)

Meet Me In St. LouisSt. Louis 1903. The well-off Smith family has four beautiful daughters, including Esther and little Tootie. 17-year old Esther has fallen in love with the boy next door who has just moved in, John. He however, barely notices her at first. The family is shocked when Mr. Smith reveals that he has been transferred to a nice position in New York, which means that the family has to leave St. Louis and the St. Louis Fair.

Quote
‘Tootie’ Smith: And I’m taking all my dolls, even the dead ones. I’m taking everything.
Esther Smith: Of course you are. I’ll help you pack them myself. You won’t have to leave anything behind. Except your snow people, of course. We’d look pretty silly trying to get them on the train, wouldn’t we?
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Christmas in Connecticut (1945)

Christmas In ConnecticutJournalist Elizabeth Lane is one of the country’s most famous food writers. In her columns, she describes herself as a hard working farm woman, taking care of her children and being an excellent cook. But this is all lies. In reality she is an unmarried New Yorker who can’t even boil an egg. The recipes come from her good friend Felix. The owner of the magazine she works for has decided that a heroic sailor will spend his Christmas on her farm. Miss Lane knows that her career is over if the truth comes out, but what can she do?

Quote
Elizabeth Lane: John, when you’re kissing me, don’t talk about plumbing.
John Sloan: What? Oh, I’m sorry, what should I talk about?
Elizabeth Lane: Well, do you have to talk?
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It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

Its A Wonderful LifeGeorge Bailey spends his entire life giving up his big dreams for the good of his town, Bedford Falls, as we see in flashback. But in the present, on Christmas Eve, he is broken and suicidal over the misplacing of an $8000 loan and the machinations of the evil millionaire, Mr. Potter. His guardian angel, Clarence, falls to Earth, literally, and shows him how his town, family, and friends would turn out if he had never been born. George meant so much to so many people; should he really throw it all away?

Quote
George Bailey: Merry Christmas, movie house! Merry Christmas, Emporium! Merry Christmas, you wonderful old Building and Loan!
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Miracle on 34th Street (1947)

Miracle on 34th StreetDoris Walker a no-nonsense Macy’s executive, desperately searches for a new store Santa. She hires Kris Kringle who insists that he’s the real Santa Claus. But, he has many skeptics like Doris and her six year old daughter, Susan. So Kris goes to court to try and prove it. Is he the real Santa Claus? What ensues is a bizarre hearing in which people’s beliefs are reexamined and put to the test, but even so, it’s going to take a miracle for Kris to win.

Quote
Kris Kringle: Now wait a minute, Susie. Just because every child can’t get his wish that doesn’t mean there isn’t a Santa Claus.
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The Bishop’s Wife (1948)

The Bishop's WifeAn Episcopal Bishop, Henry Brougham, has been working for months on the plans for an elaborate new cathedral which he hopes will be paid for primarily by a wealthy, stubborn widow. He is losing sight of his family and of why he became a churchman in the first place. Enter Dudley, an angel sent to help him. Dudley does help everyone he meets, but not necessarily in the way they would have preferred. With the exception of Henry, everyone loves him, but Henry begins to believe that Dudley is there to replace him, both at work and in his family’s affections, as Christmas approaches.

Quote
Prof. Wutheridge: God bless you!
Dudley: Thank you! I’ll pass that recommendation along.
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A Christmas Carol (1951)

A Christmas Carol 1951Stingy old Ebenezer Scrooge is known as the meanest man in London. He overworks and underpays his humble clerk, Bob Cratchit, whose little son, Tiny Tim, is crippled and may soon die. He also has nothing to do with his nephew, Fred, because his birth cost the life of his beloved sister. On Christmas Eve, Scrooge has a haunting nightmare. He is visited by three ghosts and is given one last chance to change his ways and save himself from the grim fate that befell his business partner, Jacob Marley.

Quote
Ebenezer Scrooge: [after Cratchit claps following Fred’s speech to Scrooge] “Another sound from you… and you’ll keep your Christmas by losing your situation.”
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White Christmas (1954)

White ChristmasAfter leaving the Army after W.W.II, Bob Wallace and Phil Davis team up to become a top song-and-dance act. Davis plays matchmaker and introduces Wallace to a pair of beautiful sisters (Betty and Judy) who also have a song-and-dance act. When Betty and Judy travel to a Vermont lodge to perform a Christmas show, Wallace and Davis follow, only to find their former commander, General Waverly, is the lodge owner. A series of romantic mix-ups ensue as the performers try to help the General.

Quote
Gen. Thomas F. Waverly: “There’s no Christmas in the Army!
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Rudolph, the Red-nosed Reindeer (1964)

Rudplph the Red Nosed ReindeerSam the snowman tells us the story of a young red-nosed reindeer who, after being ousted from the reindeer games because of his beaming honker, teams up with Hermey, an elf who wants to be a dentist, and Yukon Cornelius, the prospector. They run into the Abominable Snowman and find a whole island of misfit toys. Rudoph vows to see if he can get Santa to help the toys, and he goes back to the North Pole on Christmas Eve. But Santa’s sleigh is fogged in. But when Santa looks over Rudolph, he gets a very bright idea…

Quote
Mrs. Donner: We’ll simply have to overlook it.
Donner: How can you overlook that? His beak blinks like a blinking beacon.
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A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)

A Charlie Brown ChristmasWhen Charlie Brown complains about the overwhelming materialism that he sees amongst everyone during the Christmas season, Lucy suggests that he become director of the school Christmas pageant. Charlie Brown accepts, but it proves to be a frustrating struggle. When an attempt to restore the proper spirit with a forlorn little fir Christmas tree fails, he needs Linus’ help to learn what the real meaning of Christmas is.

Quote
Lucy Van Pelt: Look, Charlie, let’s face it. We all know that Christmas is a big commercial racket. It’s run by a big eastern syndicate, you know.
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How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)

How the Grinch Stole ChristmasBitter and hateful, the Grinch is irritated at the thought of the nearby village having a happy time celebrating Christmas. So disguised as Santa Claus, with his dog made to look like a reindeer, he raids the village to steal all the Christmas things. The village is sure to have a sad Christmas this year. How the Grinch Stole Christmas is a must see film for the Christmas season. It’s always a joy to watch each year and brings back happy memories of watching it with your family.

Quote
Lou Lou Who: I’m glad he took our presents. You can’t hurt Christmas, Mr. Mayor, beacuse it isn’t about the… the gifts or the contest or the fancy lights. That’s what Cindy’s been trying to tell everyone… and me. I don’t need anything more for Christmas than this right here: my family.
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Frosty the Snowman (1969)

Frosty The SnowmanA discarded silk tophat becomes the focus of a struggle between a washed-up stage magician and a group of schoolchildren after it magically brings a snowman to life. Realizing that newly-living Frosty will melt in spring unless he takes refuge in a colder climate, Frosty and a young girl who he befriends stow away on a freight train headed for the north pole. Little do they know that the magician is following them, and he wants his hat back. This animated short is based on the popular Christmas song of the same name.

Quote
Santa Claus: Don’t cry, Karen, Frosty’s not gone for good. You see, he was made out of Christmas snow and Christmas snow can never disappear completely. It sometimes goes away for almost a year at a time and takes the form of spring and summer rain. But you can bet your boots that when a good, jolly December wind kisses it, it will turn into Christmas snow all over again.
Karen: Yes, but… He was my friend.
Santa Claus: Just watch.
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Scrooge (1970)

Scrooge This is a delightful musical adaptation of Charles Dickens’ novel A Christmas Carol. Cold-souled Ebenezer Scrooge has a change of heart after spirit visitations on Christmas Eve. Folks might not have had much to sing about in England in 1860, but this musical will make you believe otherwise. Kenneth More’s musical number as the Ghost of Christmas Present is especially entertaining.

Quote
Gen. Thomas F. Waverly: “There’s no Christmas in the Army!
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Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town (1970)

Santa Claus Is Coming To TownThe Mailman decides to answer some of the most common questions about Santa Claus, and tells us about a small baby named Kris who was left on the doorstep of the Kringle family (toymakers). When Kris grew up, he wanted to deliver toys to the children of Sombertown. But its Burgermeister (Herr Meisterburger) is too mean to let that happen. And to make things worse, there’s an evil wizard named Winter who lives between the Kringles and Sombertown, but Kris manages to melt Winter’s heart (as well as the comely schoolteacher’s) and deliver his toys.

Quote
Kris Kringle: You better watch out. You better not cry, you better not pout.
Children: Why?
Kris Kringle: I’m telling you why. Because I came to town.
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The Year Without A Santa Claus (1974)

The Year Without A Santa ClausMrs. Claus tells us about the time Santa had a bad cold and decided to take a vacation from Christmas. Two of his elves, Jingle Bells and Jangle Bells decided to go out (with Vixen) to find children to convince Santa that the Christmas spirit is still important to everybody else. But they have to get past Heat Miser and Snow Miser, first, before they land in Southtown, USA, where it never snows for Christmas. But the Miser Brothers can’t agree to let it snow in Southtown. But Mrs. Santa knows their mom–Mother Nature.

Quote
Heat Miser: Well, well, Mrs. Claus. How’s your husband doing? Out doing another commercial for my brother?
Mrs. Santa: Oh come now. You know he’s not on your brother’s payroll.
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Contemporary Classics 1980-1999

A Christmas Story (1983)

A Christmas StoryIt’s Christmas time and there’s only one thing on Ralphie Parker’s Christmas list this year: a Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-Shot, Range Model Air Rifle, but many obstacles stand in the way of his dream because every adult that he confronts keeps telling him he’ll shoot his eye out. Christmas is drawing nearer and Ralphie visits Santa at the department store in hopes of asking him for his dream gift. Will he receive it? Let’s hope so.

Quote
Ralphie: I want an official Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle!
Mrs. Parker: No, you’ll shoot your eye out.
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Mickey’s Christmas Carol (1983)

Mickey's Christmas CarolExamples set by Bob Cratchit help Ebeneezer Scrooge to embrace the true Christmas spirit in this trailer for the Disney classic movie Mickey’s Christmas Carol. An animated short film featuring the various Walt Disney characters (including characters from Wind in the Willows, Robin Hood and The Three Little Pigs), with Scrooge McDuck fittingly playing the role of Ebenezer Scrooge.

Quote
Scrooge: My partner, Jacob Marley, dead seven years today. Oh, he was a good’n. He robbed from the widows and swindled the poor. In his will, he left me enough money to pay for his tombstone, and I have him buried at sea!
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A Christmas Carol (1984)

A Christmas CarolMade for television version of the Charles Dickens classic of the same name. An old man, played by George C. Scott, who hates Christmas is taught the true meaning and spirit of Christmas by ghosts who show him his own past and present. He is also shown what the future holds for him if he doesn’t change his behavior. They show him what he has lost and what he will leave behind after he is gone unless he mends his ways.

Quote
Ebenezer Scrooge: These are garments, Mr. Cratchit. Garments were invented by the human race as a protection against the cold. Once purchased, they may be used indefinitely for the purpose for which they are intended. Coal burns. Coal is momentary and coal is costly. There will be no more coal burned in this office today, is that quite clear, Mr. Cratchit?
Bob Cratchit: Yes, Sir.
Ebenezer Scrooge: Now please get back to work before I am forced to conclude that your services here are no longer required.
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One Magic Christmas (1985)

Gideon, a Christmas angel, is sent, by Santa, to help Ginny Grainger. Ginny is a cynic, and she hates Christmas. She and her family (husband, Jack and two kids, Caleb and Abbie) have fallen on hard times, making it even harder to believe in anything that can’t be seen. With help from Abbie, and a trip to see Santa Claus himself, can Gideon find a way to make Ginny believe again?
Quote
Abbie Grainger: My brother’s never going to believe this.
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Santa Claus: The Movie (1985)

Santa Claus: The MovieThe first half of this film, set hundreds of years ago, shows how the old man who eventually became Santa Claus was given immortality and chosen to deliver toys to all the children of the world. The second half moves into the modern era, in which Patch, the head elf, strikes out on his own and falls in with an evil toy manufacturer who wants to corner the market and eliminate Santa Claus.

Quote
Santa Claus: How can I do so much in just one night?
Ancient Elf: Oh, yeah, well know this: time travels with you. The night of the world is a passage of endless night for you, until your mission is done.
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Scrooged (1988)

ScroogedFrank Cross runs a US TV station which is planning a live adaptation of Dickens’ Christmas Carol. Frank’s childhood wasn’t a particularly pleasant one, and so he doesn’t really appreciate the Christmas spirit. With the help of the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future, Frank realizes he must change. The movie’s tag line is: Bill Murray is back among the ghosts. Only this time, it’s three against one.

Quote
Frank Cross: Do you think I’m way off-base here?
Elliot: Yes. You’re, well, you’re a tad off-base, sir. That thing looked like The Manson Family Christmas Special.
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Die Hard (1988)

New York cop John McClane flies to Los Angeles on Christmas eve to spend the holidays with his family. He arrives at the Nakatomi corp. building for his wife’s office party. International terrorists take over the building and hold every one as hostage to steel $600 million of bonds from the vaults of the building. Now its up to McCLane to face the terrorists and save his wife and the other hostages.

Quotes
John McClane: You throw quite a party. I didn’t realize they celebrated Christmas in Japan.
Joseph Takagi: Hey, we’re flexible. Pearl Harbor didn’t work out so we got you with tape decks.
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Prancer (1989)

Jessica, the daughter of an impoverished apple farmer, still believes in Santa Claus. So when she comes across a reindeer with an injured leg, it makes perfect sense to her to assume that it is Prancer, who had fallen from a Christmas display in town. She hides the reindeer in her barn and feeds it cookies, until she can return it to Santa. Her father finds the reindeer an decides to sell it to the butcher, not for venison chops, but as an advertising display.

Revealing mistakes
The scene is set in a snowy, cold town in the late fall/early winter. Yet breath from the cold can never be seen emerging from the characters.
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National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)

National Lampoon's Christmas VacationIt’s Christmas time – Clark decided to invite all the family to have ‘the most fun-filled old-fashioned family Christmas‘, which nobody shall ever forget. When the first relatives arrive, Clark soon flees on the roof to rig the lighting. The one thing the loving father wants to surprise the whole family with is the installation of a pool, which he already ordered. Unfortunately, the bonus check Clark expects any minute is overdue – and tempers rise, but not only because of the check. A big event is the arrival of uninvited cousin Eddie with his family in their mobile home, as well as a little sledding afternoon with a new lubricant from Clark’s company, or his shifting relationship with the very hip and clean neighbors. Cousin Eddie chooses to top off all presents with his very own special creation, only intending to deliver a real reason to be jolly.

Quote
Clark: Can I refill your eggnog for you? Get you something to eat? Drive you out to the middle of nowhere and leave you for dead?
Eddie: Naw, I’m doing just fine, Clark.
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Home Alone (1990)

In this film, Kevin McAllister is an eight year old boy left at home by his parents, when they leave with the rest of the family for Christmas holidays to Paris. At first he seems to enjoy living alone, but after a while he understands that things aren’t so easy. Especially when two robbers decide to break in a particular house. HIS house! Is he able to defend his home?
Quotes
Kate McCallister: [to the Scranton Ticket Agent] This is *Christmas*. The season of perpetual hope. And I don’t care if I have to get out on your runway and hitchhike. If it costs me everything I own, if I have to sell my soul to the devil himself, I am going to get home to my son.
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All I Want for Christmas (1991)

All I Want for Christmas 1991In this family-friendly holiday film, all Ethan and Hallie want for Christmas is for their parents to get back together. Catherine and Michael have been divorced for a year and now Catherine’s dating a guy no one can stand, including her mother Lillian. Michael, meanwhile, has opened a successful diner, but he misses Catherine. When Hallie overhears Catherine tell Lillian she and Tony are planning to marry, she and Ethan come up with a plan to strand their parents alone together on Christmas Eve. Hallie even asks Santa to help them out.

Quote
Hallie O’Fallon: Excuse me! Can I cut in? I won’t take long… I just have to fix this mistake I made.
Girl in Line: Have cuts for a dollar!
Hallie O’Fallon: Forget it. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah! Don’t forget to tell Santa what a creep you are!
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The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)

The Muppet Christmas CarolA retelling of the classic Dickens tale of Ebenezer Scrooge, miser extraordinaire. He is held accountable for his dastardly ways during night-time visitations by the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and future. Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie and the entire cast of the Muppet universe come together to re-tell this immortal classic. This was also the first time the Muppets appeared on screen since Jim Henson’s death in 1990.

Quote
Ghost of Christmas Past: Let us see another Christmas at this place.
Ebenezer Scrooge: They were pretty much all the same. Nothing ever changed.
Ghost of Christmas Past: You changed.
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The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

Nightmare Before XmasJack Skellington, the pumpkin king of Halloween Town, is bored with doing the same thing every year for Halloween. One day he stumbles into Christmas Town, and is so taken with the idea of Christmas that he tries to get the resident bats, ghouls, and goblins of Halloween town to help him put on Christmas instead of Halloween — but alas, they can’t get it quite right.

Quote
Jack Skellington: [singing] What’s this? What’s this? There’s color everywhere! What’s this? There’s white things in the air! What’s this? I can’t believe my eyes, I must be dreaming; wake up, Jack, this isn’t fair! What’s this?
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The Santa Clause (1994)

The Santa ClauseDivorcee Scott Calvin is disgusted to learn that his ex and her husband have tried – and failed – to break it easy to their 6-year-old son Charlie that Santa isn’t real. On Christmas Eve, Scott reads The Night Before Christmas… then receives an unexpected visitor on his roof. When he’s startled by Scott’s calling out and falls, the Santa impersonator disappears, leaving only an 8-reindeer sleigh and a suit with instructions to put it on if he’s involved in an accident. Scott does, and is transported around the town dropping gifts through chimneys until he’s taken to the North Pole and informed by a group who claim they’re elves that he is now Santa. Charlie is proud of his dad’s new job, though Scott’s convinced it’s a dream. Until his hair turns white, his beard refuses to stay shaved, he gains weight inexplicably, even for his sudden love of junk food…

Quote
Charlie: These are Santa’s reindeer, aren’t they?
Scott Calvin: I hope not. These are… A gift. Probably from the cable company. We’re getting the Disney Channel now. Merry Christmas.
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Jingle All the Way (1996)

When Howard misses his son’s karate practice, he makes peace by promising his son a Turbo Man doll for Christmas. What Howard doesn’t know is that every other child wants the doll as well. On the day of Christmas Eve, Howard must compete against a deranged postal worker (played by Sinbad), as well as con-artist Santas, the police, and almost every parent in town, to get his son the cherished toy. But while Howard is going insane trying to find the doll, his son is wondering where his father is, and his neighbor (Phil Hartman) is putting the moves on his wife. One of the only movies that feature ‘candy-cane numchucks’.

Quotes
Howard Langston: You guys are nothing but a bunch of sleazy conmen in red suits.
Mall Santa: What did you call us?
Howard Langston: You heard me right. Conmen. Thieves. Degenerates. Low-lifes. Thugs. Criminals!
Mall Santa: At the North Pole them are fighting words, Partner.
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The Preacher’s Wife (1996)

The Preachers WifeGood natured Reverend Henry Biggs finds that his marriage to choir mistress Julia is flagging, due to his constant absence caring for the deprived neighborhood they live in. On top of all this, his church is coming under threat from property developer Joe Hamilton. In desperation, Rev. Biggs prays to God for help – and help arrives in the form of an angel named Dudley. However, Dudley’s arrival seems to cause even more trouble…

Quote
Julia Biggs: It’s okay if I look in the window, just as long as I don’t buy.
Marguerite Coleman: Yeah? Well, don’t go shopping with money in your pocket! And you better not be putting anything in the layaway plan, either!
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I’ll Be Home for Christmas (1998)

A college student experiences difficulty in getting home for Christmas after being hazed by his friends. While struggling to get home in time for Christmas, he learns quite a bit about himself and the true meaning of the holiday. The movies tag line is: Somewhere between L.A. and N.Y. Jake found the meaning of Christmas. The soundtrack includes some new and some classic Christmas songs.

Quote
Eddie: Hey jingle balls! Move your candycanes!
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Jack Frost (1998)

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, but what will people think when they see Charlie talking to a snowman and what will happen when the weather gets warmer?

Quotes
Jack: Three balls, two sticks, one corked nose. Snowman? No. Much, much more. I am the Wizard of Blizzard! Hahahahahaha! Now run you little mountain goats!
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A Christmas Carol (1999)

A Christmas Carol Scrooge is a miserly old businessman in 1840’s London. One Christmas Eve he is visited by the ghost of Marley, his dead business partner. Marley foretells that Scrooge will be visited by three spirits, each of whom will attempt to show Scrooge the error of his ways. Will Scrooge reform his ways in time to celebrate Christmas? Patrick Stewart’s performance is perfect, and stays faithful to the Dickens novel as written.

Quote
Bob Cratchit: I was wondering if you’d like Mr. Marley’s name removed from the sign outside.
Mr. Ebenezer Scrooge: No; time will erase it at no cost to us.
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New School Classics 2000-2009


The Grinch (2000)

Based on the book by the famous Dr. Seuss. Inside a snowflake exists the magical land of Whoville. In Whoville, live the Who’s, an almost mutated sort of munchkinlike people. All the Who’s love Christmas, yet just outside of their beloved Whoville lives the Grinch. The Grinch is a nasty creature that hates Christmas, and plots to steal it away from the Whos which he equally abhors. Yet a small child, Cindy Lou Who, decides to try befriend the Grinch.

Quotes
Cindy Lou Who: Santa, what’s the meaning of Christmas?
The Grinch: [bursts through the Christmas tree] “VENGEANCE!”
The Grinch: [calmly] I mean… presents, I suppose.
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The Family Man (2000)

On Christmas Eve, two days before he pulls off a multi-billion-dollar merger, Wall Street hot-shot Jack Campbell gets a phone message from a woman he almost married 13 years before. He also tells a gun-toting street tough that he has everything he needs. The punk laughs. Christmas morning, Jack wakes up next to his old girlfriend, in some sort of parallel universe, in a 12-year marriage. Over the next few weeks, he gets a glimpse of what his life would have been like if he’d married her: a house in Jersey, two children, bowling trophies, a job at his father-in-law’s tire store, and a lot of love from his wife Kate. When this Dickensian adventure ends, what will he do?

Quotes
Kate: How can you do that?
Jack: What?
Kate: Look at me like you haven’t seen me every day for the last 13 years.
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Call Me Claus (2001)

When Lucy Cullins, a successful but cranky producer at a home shopping network, hires an actor named Nick to play Santa Claus on the network she gets more than she bargained for. Nick really is Santa Claus, and he faces mandatory retirement after 200 years on the job. Nick must find his replacement by Christmas Eve or the world will face dire consequences and he has his sights set on Lucy.

Quotes
Ralph: Look, we’re burning daylight on the international dateline.
Lucy: Okay, right now you’re burning my last nerve.
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The Santa Clause 2 (2002)

Scott Calvin has been Santa Claus for the past eight years, and his loyal elves consider him the best Santa ever. But Santa’s got problems (he’s even mysteriously losing weight) and things quickly go south when he finds out that his son, Charlie, has landed on this year’s “naughty” list. Desperate to help his son, Scott heads back home, leaving a substitute Claus to watch over things at the Pole. But when the substitute institutes some strange redefinitions of naughty and nice, putting Christmas at risk, it’s up to Scott to return with a new bag of magic to try to save Christmas.

Quotes
Lucy: Uncle Scott, are you Santa Claus?
Scott Calvin: What makes you say that?
Lucy: Because you have a reindeer.
Scott Calvin: Lots of people have reindeer.
Lucy: Name five.
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The Christmas Shoes (2002)

Two separate stories mesh – in the first, a young music teacher, Maggie Andrews, begins dying of a heart condition and her son Nathan tries to get a pair of Christmas shoes for her before she dies. In the second, lawyer Robert Layton and his wife Kate are slowly drifting apart and the matter comes to a head during Christmas when Kate takes over for Maggie for the school choir and declines a job in Robert’s firm. When Robert’s mother passes away, he begins to reconsider things and his and Nathan’s paths cross on Christmas Eve as Nathan tries to raise the money for the shoes and Robert tries to get a present for his daughter.

Quotes
Maggie Andrews: Honey, what’s the matter?
Nathan Andrews: Your heart. I just wanted to see if it was still beating.
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Elf (2003)

Buddy was a baby in an orphanage who stowed away in Santa’s sack and ended up at the North Pole. Later, as an adult human who happened to be raised by elves, Santa allows him to go to New York City to find his birth father, Walter Hobbs. Hobbs, on Santa’s naughty list for being a heartless jerk, had no idea that Buddy was even born. Buddy, meanwhile, experiences the delights of New York City (and human culture) as only an elf can. When Walter’s relationship with Buddy interferes with his job, he is forced to reevaluate his priorities.

Quotes
Buddy: We elves try to stick to the four main food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corns and syrup.
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Bad Santa (2003)

The story of two conmen who go on a road trip to malls dressed as Santa and his elf. Rather than spreading good cheer, the duo’s motive is to rob each establishment, a strategy that becomes complicated when they encounter an 8-year-old who teaches them the true meaning of Christmas. All so comes in a raunchier version in “Bad-er Santa” with the tag line “Get Naughty this Holiday Season.”

Quotes
Kid: “Your beard’s not real.”
Willie: “No Shit! It was real, but I got sick and all the hair fell out.”
Kid: “How come?”
Willie: “I loved a woman who wasn’t clean.”
Kid: “Mrs. Santa?”
Willie: “No it was her sister
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Surviving Christmas (2004)

Drew Latham is an executive leading an empty, shallow life with only wealth on his side. Facing another lonely Christmas ahead, Drew wants to revisit his old childhood home and possibly relive some old holiday memories. But when he arrives, he finds that the house he was raised in is no longer the home he grew up in. Inhabited by another family, Drew offers a nice financial reward that has the family ringing. But is Drew’s generous cash offer only the beginning of an annoying visitor whose a little too overeager to celebrate Christmas?

Quotes
Drew Latham: Please! Please, let me stay here!
Tom Valco: No!
Drew Latham: I’ll pay you.
Tom Valco: My family’s not for sale, pal.
Drew Latham: I’ll pay you $250,000!
Tom Valco: Welcome home, son.
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Noel (2004)

Christmas Eve in New York, and the lonely divorced publisher, Rose Collins, needs a miracle to improve the health of her mother, interned in a hospital with Alzheimers. She feels sorry for another patient and meets his visitor. Meanwhile, Nina Vasquez breaks her engagement with her beloved fiancé Mike due to his suffocating jealousy, but misses him. Mike is stalked by a stranger, bartender Artie Venzuela. The poor Jules arranges to spend Christmas Eve in the hospital, where he spent the best Christmas of his life when he was a teenager. The lives of some of these characters cross with others along the night.

Quotes
Rose: I like to think my life matters.
Charlie: Oh, your life matters, you’ve touched other people’s lives in ways you don’t even realize.
Rose: How do you know that?
Charlie: Cause you’ve touched my life.
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The Polar Express (2004)

Santa Claus does not exist. Or does he? For one doubting boy, an astonishing event occurs. Late on Christmas Eve night, he lies in bed hoping to hear the sound of reindeer bells from Santa’s sleigh. When to his surprise, a steam engine’s roar and whistle can be heard outside his window. The conductor invites him on board to take an extraordinary journey to the North Pole with many other pajama-clad children. There, he receives an extraordinary gift only those who still believe in Santa can experience.

Quotes
Santa Claus: This bell is a wonderful symbol of the spirit of Christmas – as am I. Just remember, the true spirit of Christmas lies in your heart.
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Christmas With the Kranks (2004)

When Luther and Nora Kranks only daughter leaves and goes to another country they both decide to skip Christmas this year and spend it on a cruise. Now they must survive, facing their neighbors, a house decorations contest and carolers. But when their daughter calls on Christmas eve and says shes coming home for Christmas, the Kranks really get into the meaning of Holiday Rush when they have 12 hours to get Christmas set up for their daughter and her fiancée. Based on the novel Skipping Christmas by John Grisham.

Quotes
Nora Krank: Why would we want to get tans before the cruise? I thought the idea was to get them DURING the cruise.
Luther Krank: Look at us, we kind of look like uncooked chicken.
Daisy: You look like a corpse.
Daisy: [to Nora] And you could use some help too.
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The Family Stone (2005)

The Stones gather for Christmas. Dad’s a professor in a Connecticut town; mom has a secret; there’s a gay, deaf son and his lover; a pregnant daughter and her child; a daughter who’s judgmental and acerbic, like her mother; and a laid-back observant brother. Everett is the eldest, bringing his fiancée Meredith to meet the family and, probably, to ask for grandma’s ring to give her. She’s self centered, uptight, and talks too much. Instantly, almost all give her a hard time. She calls her sister to come and help. Meredith, her sister, the Stones, and the family stone conflate. What does Everett see in Meredith, and doesn’t she deserve someone to love her for who she is?

Quotes
Meredith Morton: What’s so great about you guys?
Sybil Stone: Uh, nothing… it’s just that we’re all that we’ve got.
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The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause (2006)

Santa’s got problems: it’s a few days before Christmas and production lags, Mrs. Claus is about to give birth and wants family time, and Jack Frost (tired of second billing) is on probation under Santa’s supervision. Santa tries to support his wife by bringing her parents to the North Pole (to preserve the secret of Santa, they must think it’s Canada). Santa also brings his ex, her husband, and their daughter Lucy. Inside the toy factory, Jack makes mischief and hatches a plan to become Santa. With Santa juggling that many snow globes, something is bound to go wrong. But if things get too difficult, Santa can always exercise his option to invoke the Escape Clause.

Quotes
Jack Frost: Would you like to be my elf?
Sylvia Newman: Huh?
Jack Frost: You heard me.
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The Holiday (2006)

Iris is in love with a man who is about to marry another woman. Across the globe, Amanda realizes the man she lives with has been unfaithful. Two women who have never met and live 6000 miles apart, find themselves in the exact same place. They meet online at a home exchange website and impulsively switch homes for the holiday. Iris moves into Amanda’s L.A. house in sunny California as Amanda arrives in the snow covered English countryside. Shortly after arriving at their destinations, both women find the last thing either wants or expects: a new romance. Amanda is charmed by Iris’ handsome brother Graham and Iris, with inspiration provided by legendary screenwriter Arthur, mends her heart when she meets film composer Miles.

Quotes
Amanda: You know Graham, I just broke up with someone and considering you just showed up and you’re insanely good-looking and probably won’t remember me anyway… I’m thinking we should have sex… If you want.
Graham: Is that a trick question?
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Deck the Halls (2006)

This holiday comedy is centered around two neighbors in a small New England town who go to war when one of them decides to decorate his house with a so many Christmas lights that they are visible from space. The neighborhood is turned upside down as the families try to discover the true meaning of Christmas. Starring Danny DeVito and Mathew Broderick. The movie’s tag line is “This Christmas when the lights go on . . . the gloves come off”.

Quotes
Tia Hall: I used to do a bit of modeling, mainly for college classes… that’s how I met Buddy.
Kelly Finch: Oh, was he a professor?
Tia Hall: No, he was the one they caught peeping in the windows.
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This Christmas (2007)

This year, Christmas with the Whitfields promises to be one they will never forget. All the siblings have come home for the first time in years and they’ve brought plenty of baggage with them. As the Christmas tree is trimmed and the lights are hung, secrets are revealed and family bonds are tested. As their lives converge, they join together and help each other discover the true meaning of family.

Quotes
Melanie Whitfield: You slept with Santa!
Kelli Whitfield: Well I didn’t know he was Santa at the time but… technically, I guess I did.
Melanie Whitfield: Ho! HO! HO!
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The Perfect Holiday (2007)

An updated take on the classic and beloved Christmas family film, The Perfect Holiday tells the story of Nancy, a divorced mother of three who is so busy raising her children that she’s forgotten to take care of herself as well. With Christmas fast approaching, she decides to take her kids to the mall to meet Santa Claus, not knowing that her youngest daughter Emily has sensed her mother’s sadness and is determined to use her time with Santa to make her mom happy again. Just a few days prior, Emily heard her mom say that all she wanted for Christmas was a compliment from a man, so that’s exactly what she tells Santa.

Quotes
Jamal: Hi, I’m Santa’s Number One Elf!
Brenda: More like numbers one through ten…
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Fred Claus (2007)

During childhood, Fred Claus suffered his younger brother Nick’s saintliness. Jump ahead: Fred is a fast-talking, genial but self-centered guy in Chicago looking for $50,000 to open an off-track-betting shop. When one scam goes awry, he calls Nick at the North Pole for a loan: Nick will give him the money only if Fred comes up to help a few days with the Christmas rush. After his girlfriend dumps him, Fred heads north. Santa’s facing an audit from an efficiency expert, and it’s not pleasant. Fred’s job is to review charts and determine who’s naughty and who’s nice. Is there any fraternal feeling left, can either learn from the other, and what about Santa getting fired?

Quotes
Clyde: You’re all fired, in the morning you’ll all be on a bus back to Elfistan!
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Christmas in Wonderland (2007)

It’s turning out to be a pretty rotten Christmas for the Saunders family. Having just moved to a new city from Los Angeles, they have no friends, no money and, with the exception of the bright-eyed Mary, no Christmas spirit. To make matters worse, their mother is stuck in L.A., stranded by airline overbookings. So, the Christmas shopping duties fall on Dad (Patrick Swayze) and the gloomy kids. Things start looking a bit more like Christmas when 12-year old Brian and 6-year old Mary find a satchel of money at the local mall and they launch a Yuletide shopping spree…

Factual errors
Leonard and Sheldon drive their motorcycle through the 2nd story window overlooking the tidal pool and land in the deep end. In reality, the window overlooks the shallow end of the pool where the water only comes up to your ankles. They would’ve landed on solid concrete.
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Four Christmases (2008)

Brad and Kate have been together three years, in love, having fun, doing all sorts of things together with no intention of marriage or children. Christmas morning, they’re on their way to Fiji, having told their two sets of divorced parents that they’re off to do charity work. Through a fluke, they have no choice but to visit each of their four idiosyncratic parents. As the day progresses, Brad and Kate remember growing up, each learns more about the other, and Kate realizes that her life may not be as good as it could be. Do they know each other well enough to weather the storms families bring?

Quotes
Brad: We just gotta get through these four Christmases as quickly and painlessly as possible.
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Nothing Like the Holidays (2008)

It’s Christmas and the far-flung members of the Rodriguez family are converging at their parents’ home in Chicago to celebrate the season and rejoice in their youngest brother’s safe return from combat overseas. But when old disputes resurface and new surprises arise, familial bonds are stretched to the limit and the Rodriguezes realize they’re going to have to pull together to make it through the holidays in one piece. Nothing Like the holidays is a hilarious and heartwarming look at a holiday one family will never forget.

Quotes
Edy Rodriguez: I just want to enjoy Christmas with my family, not that they make it so easy.
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Disney’s A Christmas Carol (2009)

Miser Ebenezer Scrooge is awakened on Christmas Eve by spirits who reveal to him his own miserable existence, what opportunities he wasted in his youth, his current cruelties, and the dire fate that awaits him if he does not change his ways. Scrooge is faced with his own story of growing bitterness and meanness, and must decide what his own future will hold: death or redemption. Created by Disney Studios and starring Jim Carrey.

Quotes
Ebenezer Scrooge: If I could have my way, every idiot who goes about with ‘Merry Christmas’ on his lips should be boiled in his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart!
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The History of Christmas at the White House 1789-2009

Like any other Americans, the family living in the big white house on Pennsylvania avenue has traditions surrounding the holiday season as well. Sit back, and get comfortable, while we explore how Presidents have celebrated Christmas from President George Washington to President Barack Obama.

A special note of thanks goes to our friends at White House Christmas Cards, for allowing us to use some of their outstanding research material as part of this presentation. If you are interested in a more in-depth study of Christmas in the White House, we highly recommend you visit their site.

Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas. ~ President Calvin Coolidge

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History of Christmas at the White House (1789-1849)



President George Washington and First Lady Martha (1789-1797)
President John Adams and First Lady Abigale (1797-1801)
President Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809)
President James Madison (1809-1817)
President James Monroe and First Lady Elizabeth (1817-1825)
President John Quincy Adams and First Lady Louisa (1825-1829)
President Andrew Jackson and First Lady Rachel (1829-1837)
President Martin Van Buren (1837-1841)
President William Henry Harrison and First Lady Anna (1841-1841)
President John Tyler and First Ladies Lettitia and Julia (1841-1845)
President James K. Polk and First Lady Sarah (1845-1849)
President Zachary Taylor and First Lady Margaret (1849-1850)


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History of Christmas at the White House (1850-1901)

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President Millard Fillmore and First Ladies Abigail and Caroline (1850-1853)
President Franklin Pierce and First Lady Jane (1853-1857)
President James Buchanan (1857-1861)
President Abraham Lincoln and First Lady Mary (1861-1865)
President Andrew Johnson and First Lady Elizabeth (1865-1869)
President Ulysses S. Grant and First Lady Julia (1869-1877)
President Rutherford B. Hayes and First Lady Lucy (1877-1881)
President James A. Garfield and First Lady Lucretia (1881-1881)
President Chester A. Arthur and First Lady Ellen (1881-1885)
President Grover Cleveland and First Lady Francis (1885-1889, (1893-1897)
President Benjamin Harrison and First Lady Caroline and Mary (1889-1893)
President William McKinley and First Lady Ida (1897-1901)


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History of Christmas at the White House (1901-1953)

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President Theodore Roosevelt and First Ladies Alice and Edith (1901-1909)
President William Howard Taft and First Lady Helen (1909-1913)
President Woodrow Wilson and First Ladies Ellen and Edith (1913-1921)
President Warren G. Harding and First Lady Florence (1921-1923)
President Calvin Coolidge and First Lady Grace (1923-1929)
President Herbert Hoover and First Lady Lou (1929-1933)
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and First Lady Eleanor (1933-1945)
President Harry S. Truman and First Lady Bess (1945-1953)


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History of Christmas at the White House (1953-1977)

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President Dwight Eisenhower and First Lady Mamie Eisenhower (1953-1961)
President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy (1961-1963)
President Lyndon Johnson and First Lady Claudia (Lady Bird) (1963-1969)
President Richard Nixon and First Lady Patricia (1969-1974)
President Gerald Ford and First Lady Betty (1974-1977)

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History of Christmas at the White House (1977-2009)

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President Jimmy Carter and First Lady Rosalyn Carter (1977-1981)
President Ronald Regan and First Lady Nancy (1981-1989)
President George HW Bush and First Lady Barbara (1989-1993)
President William J. Clinton and First Lady Hillary (1993-2001)
President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush (2001-2008)
President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama (2009- )


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