02 January 2009

"On the Ninth Day of Christmas..."

We're getting ready to party.

Well, I'm getting ready to party. James is back at work, where I'll be on Monday. Bit by bit the magic is going away and it will just be the workday world again.

It's gloomy and chilly and damp out, and I was looking forward to getting the floors washed early when I realized I was out of what I needed to wash them with. I thought I had bought more cleaner, but there was none in the closet or downstairs. Well, phooey.

Ran out to Food Depot, but they didn't have what I use. Actually, I couldn't find anything but PineSol! But I did find it next door at Dollar General. Looked through the half-price Christmas things and found a few things I can decorate for the porch for next year. Then I did all the floors and got clothes together for a last load of laundry, and had the rest of the little pizzas from the other night for lunch.

To go with my lunch, I put on The Gathering. This is a 1977 television movie with Edward Asner and Maureen Stapleton, and why it isn't out on an official DVD is anybody's guess. It won all sorts of awards and is a brilliant, touching but not mawkish, Christmas film. Asner's character, Adam Thornton, a hard-nosed businessman in a small New England town, is separated from his wife after an argument (the film implies the fight was over their youngest son going to Canada instead of Vietnam, but the novelization says it was because Adam, with all the children gone, wanted to abandon the family home, and wife Kate refused) and estranged from all of his children except his younger daughter.

Then Thornton discovers from his doctor (and close friend) that he has only a few months to live. With Kate's help, he arranges a family reunion (without telling the children the bad news so it won't be a "pity party") at the house, as much to straighten out things between himself and the kids as to see them once more before he dies.

The supporting cast includes Lawrence Pressman, Veronica Hamel, Gail Strickland, Bruce Davison, Rebecca Balding (who later co-starred for a few episodes with Asner in Lou Grant), Gregory Harrison, Stephanie Zimbalist, Edward Winter, and John Randolph. Truly wonderful film—with a beautiful score by John Barry to boot.

(Bit of trivia: this film was produced by Hanna-Barbera and Yogi Bear makes a brief cameo—it's a puppet that the grandchildren have.)

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