When I was little, my grandpa and I read Charles Dickinson’s “A Christmas Carol” together, every single Christmas. This is a story that will always have a special place in my heart.
You know, when you’re young, there are a lot things you don’t really appreciate. You don’t always know just how special those moments are, until they’re gone forever. I’ll be honest, while I do love Christmas, it just doesn’t feel the same to me since I moved to the States. My grandma always made sure that we follow all these old traditions, and now that we live so far away from each other, it just isn’t the same.
Well.. my views changed quite a bit since my teenage years as well, and I can’t imagine following some of those old traditions (like keeping a live carp in a tub, just to kill it later and serve it on Christmas Eve).
So, for many years now, I’ve been chasing that Christmas spirit, hoping to feel that overwhelming excitement I once felt as December 24th approached. I don’t think it’ll happen until my entire family is able to get all together once again, but Christmas still remains one of my favorite times of year. And what a better way to get yourself in a festive mood than by playing some of your favorite holiday movies?
A Christmas Carol (1984) is one of my favorites to watch, for obvious reasons. Watching it, is almost like traveling back in time for me. If I close my eyes tight enough, I can picture myself sitting on the living room floor of my grandparents’ house, next to my sister, watching it play on TV while we snack on oranges and run to the kitchen, every so often to check if our grandma could use some help. From time to time, we’d check on our grandpa, too, who could usually be found in the garage. He’d always keep a stash of candy and chocolates down there and would give us handfuls while whispering “just don’t tell your grandmother, or I’ll be in trouble!”. It’s a Wonderful Life is a close second favorite. Both stories are timeless and kind of make you reflect on life and fill you with gratitude.
Also, it wouldn’t be Christmas in our household if we didn’t watch Love Actually. I just saw it for the first time about three years ago and it became an instant classic for me. It’s a perfect holiday movie if you want to do all three: laugh, cry and feel super cozy. Of course, this year I found it a little difficult to watch it, as we lost brilliant Alan Rickman, but it makes me cherish this movie, that much more.
Other than movies, cooking and preparing some of my favorite holiday dishes is what also puts me in a festive mood. The smell and the warmth that fills the entire house when you do some holiday cooking is something that can’t be replaced (not even with a sugar cookie scented candle!).
With everything that’s happening around the world, especially in Aleppo, I find it difficult to feel at peace. The other day we went food shopping for the week and while I walked between the isles, loaded with candy and chocolate and cakes, and all the happy kids running around, I couldn’t understand how we get to live peaceful lives, while so many children are suffering in ways we can hardly imagine. If you can, please consider donating to places like UNICEF and keep all those who are suffering in your prayers. Maybe there’s someone in your neighborhood that needs help? Maybe there’s someone you love but haven’t spoke to in a while, because you’re holding a grudge? I think that giving is what makes this time of year special- whether it be a meal for someone in need, a donation, a helping hand or reaching out to someone you care about.
I hope that this holiday season is filled with love and peace for all of you. Remember that even though sometimes things don’t work out the way we want them to, even though we sometimes get lonely or sad or think that life is unfair, we all have a whole lot to be grateful for.