25 April 2012

Rudolph Day, April 2012

"Rudolph Day" is a way of keeping the Christmas spirit alive all year long. You can read a Christmas book, work on a Christmas craft project, listen to Christmas music or watch a Christmas movie.

Ever watch HGTV and their over-the-top Christmas decorating shows? Here are more reasonable ideas:
Readers Digest Tips

Budget Decorating for Your Home

Homemade Christmas Decorations

Cheap Christmas Decorations (I love the snowflake curtain idea! You can keep it up for winter.)


Paper Bag Christmas, Kevin Alan Milne
I am at a loss at what to say about this book. At the conclusion, it will definitely make you tear up.On the other hand, it is deliberately manipulative. You may think that yes, many Christmas books (and movies for that matter) are, but this one seems excessively so.

The story is a simple one: Molar Alan and his brother Aaran are taken to see an unusual Santa Claus, who is saddened by their chock-full Christmas lists. In an effort to teach them there is something more to Christmas than gifts, their Santa, really an amputee oncologist at a children's cancer unit, has them help out with the sick children during the Christmas season, especially with two difficult patients, an Indian boy who does not understand Christmas and a reclusive little girl who wears a paper bag on her head. As the story progresses, Aaron and, especially, Mo learn that Christmas is more than material gifts.

I suppose what I question is why Aaron and Mo needed to learn this lesson. All the other children in line submit Christmas lists, which "Santa" accepts graciously. Yes, both Aaron and Mo completely fill up the paper they are given to write down what they want for Christmas, but I took it from the narrative that Mo, at least, ended up filling up the paper simply because they waited two hours in line and he felt he had to. At no point are we told these kids are selfish or greedy. So why, of all the children, were they the ones chosen? I would have understood more had the story opened with them in a house full of toys, quarreling with each other and treating their parents badly, and grabbing at the empty Christmas list paper to hurriedly write down line after line of toys. These kids simply aren't that selfish. Madhu, the boy from India, is a sweet character, but he also embodies the oft-used trope of "outsider who understands what the people who should know better do not." I also rolled my eyes at the stereotypical "Bible Belt" Southern nurse who is merely a caricature and the pat epilogue. And I know children have a variety of names, some very unusual. But how am I to take seriously a boy named "Molar" because his dad was taking his dental exams? Even "Egbert" or "Llewellyn" would have been better than "Molar."

This is a pity because parts of this book are quite affecting, especially the situations involving Katrina, the little girl whom Mo is supposed to help. The description of cancer's effects on the child are quite heartrending, as it resembled what happened to my mother. But I spent too much of this book saying, "Aw, come on!" despite the fact that I love sentimental Christmas stories.

Your mileage may vary—and in a way, I hope it does, because I feel guilty not liking this book for Katrina's sake. She is the most well-developed character in the story, and her raw emotions and sorrows are the linchpin that holds the story together.

08 April 2012

05 April 2012

An Addie Mills Easter

Here's a newspaper article reviewing the Addie Mills story The Easter Promise back when it premiered in 1975.