Friday, December 20, 2013

Holiday Traditions

I didn't get any writing done yesterday because I took a day off. It was supposed to be a hiking day because it was nice and warm, but it was also very, very windy. At times, I had trouble staying on my feet. The air was also kind of nasty because the high winds were whipping around all that sand and salt grit that's still on the roads after the ice storm. So, we went to see Frozen instead, and even splurged on the 3D, which was the right choice as they did a really nice job with the 3D. They didn't rely on the cheap tricks of things coming out of the screen at you. It was more about adding depth and texture -- it made the snow look so fluffy you felt like you could reach out and make a snowball, and the ice looked truly slick. The constantly falling snowflakes extended out into the theater and fell all around. The story definitely poked at the more traditional Disney princess stories, even snarking about the idea of falling in love and planning to marry someone you've only just met -- which was the height of romance in the earlier movies. The music was also good, but that was where my one complaint lies. I've seen reviews calling this essentially a Broadway musical, but it really isn't. It's still a Disney musical, in which we get an early song in which the heroines outline their dreams and then the rest is mostly fun/silly songs from the comic-relief characters. No big closing number, as they totally gave up on music toward the end. This one didn't even have a good romantic duet, though that had something to do with the story structure and would have been difficult with this plot. But that's where they could have used a trick from Broadway, the hypothetical love song, which allows the man and woman to sing a romantic duet early in the show, before they've fallen in love. The most obvious example is "If I Loved You" from Carousel. This couple was made for that, with their dispute on how long it takes to fall in love for real. She could have sung verses about knowing in an instant, and he could have sung verses about things discovered along the way after knowing someone a while. I guess I'm just irked that they had a leading man with a lovely voice, and the only singing he got to do was a short comic song, with no duets with either heroine.

Oh, and after we finally had a curly-haired princess in Brave, we have Norwegian (well, a fictional Norway-like kingdom) princesses here. I actually feel represented!

And then it was time for the annual visit to the town that calls itself The Christmas Capital of Texas. It looks like the towns in those made-for-TV Christmas movies often look, as one forum poster said, "like Christmas threw up all over town." Lots of lights, music being piped in along Main Street, a big animated light show in the park with the gazebo, North Pole Express trains pulling into the railway depot, you get the idea.

That brings me to a topic for today's seasonal post: traditions. While I probably fall more to the traditional side of things -- I'm not exactly a pink feather tree, Thai food for Christmas dinner and hip-hop versions of Christmas songs kind of gal -- I don't have a lot of real traditions. There isn't anything my family has to do every year because we do it every year. In fact, within the past five or so years, we've changed just about everything about how we do Christmas. We agreed that we don't really like turkey that much, so we started doing Christmas ham. I've started staying here for Christmas Eve and driving over to my parents' house on Christmas morning, so now we have Christmas dinner and then open presents in the afternoon, and then we watch Doctor Who at night.

I've made a few things kind of traditional since changing things, like I usually spend the evening before Christmas Eve watching The Holiday and other holiday movies, then I make pecan waffles on Christmas Eve morning so I have something to reheat quickly for Christmas morning, and I drive home from church on Christmas Eve via a certain route to maximize light viewing. But those things fall more into the category of "I liked it when I did it last year, so I think I'll do it again this year" than into being a tradition.

A friend and I have made a habit of visiting this one little town to see the lights every year, but that's because it's really cool. I like the overall atmosphere, he likes analyzing the animated light show, and there are good places to eat in town. If a year comes up when we can't fit it into our schedules or we're not in the mood, I won't feel like Christmas is ruined.

I suspect a lot of this comes from coming from a military family. When you move every few years, it's hard to maintain a lot of traditions because you may not be able to do the same things in each location. The climate is different, the things available are different, the houses are different. Christmas in Germany was different from Christmas in Oklahoma, and Christmas in El Paso was different from either of those. You just find things in each location that work and that seem like fun, and if you're able to carry them over to the next place, then great, and if you can't, you find new things. It would have been difficult to maintain the tradition of hiking up the hill to the castle in El Paso or in a small town in East Texas.

Now today I plan to do significant work on the screenplay. I may make another batch of cookies. Tonight, some "research" by watching TV movies while knitting. For the weekend, I think Saturday will be more TV movies while doing a bit of a spa day in preparation for a party at night. Sunday we're singing the Christmas portions of Messiah for both services, which means a Sunday-afternoon collapse.

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