Klaus: A New (to us) Christmas Movie

Dear Liza,

Every Christmas, we watch our favorite holiday movies. From “Miracle on 34th Street” to “The Muppet Christmas Carol” and “Charlie Brown’s Christmas”, we watch and enjoy over a dozen films.

We are fussy about our movies, of course. We don’t count “Die Hard” or “Bad Santa.” We like sweet, old fashioned stories where no one gets shot.

And this year, we found a new one! In looking over lists of movies online, I found 2019’s “Klaus” listed. From the minimal description and reviews, it seemed like a good bet. And it was!

“Klaus” is a delightful animated story about an exiled prince given a seemingly impossible task in order to regain his father’s favor. It is told with humor, slapstick comedy and suspense, with just a whisper of romance. Produced for Netflix, Klaus features voices by Jason Schwartzman, Joan Cusack, Rashida Jones and J.K. Simmons. It made me laugh out loud and was judged “Popcorn Worthy” by Grandpa Nelson.

So, go see Klaus. You won’t be sorry, I promise.


Grandma Judy

Christmas Movies

Dear Liza,

As you know, we are movie fans. So we have Christmas movies we absolutely cannot miss, or it just doesn’t feel like Christmas.

Our season starts with watching the original, non-colorized, “Miracle on 34th Street”, which was made in 1947 and stars a very young Natalie Wood as the skeptical Susan Walker. It is sweet, understated and reminds us to not get too grown-up.

Our next film this year was “Shop Around the Corner”, another quiet little movie. It came out in 1940 and stars Frank Morgan, Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullavan. It is an early rom-com and more interesting than most.

Last night we enjoyed a newer movie, 2017’s “The Man who Invented Christmas”. This is a fantasy re-telling of what might have been going on in Charles Dickens’ imagination when he was writing his story of Christmas Redemption, “The Christmas Carol”. It stars the wonderfully crotchety Christopher Plummer as Scrooge and Dan Stevens as Charles Dickens.

And this, of course, leads into the best Christmas movie ever, “The Muppets Christmas Carol”. If you haven’t seen this, DO. It is funny, with Gonzo, with Charles Dickens, telling the story with the help of Rizzo the Rat (“I am here for the food.”) Kermit the Frog plays Bob Cratchit with Miss Piggy as his devoted wife.

But it is not just for kids (though my third graders always enjoyed it). Michael Caine, as Scrooge, finds nuances of sadness and regret that more celebrated actors missed. It is also a musical, and if you can get through Tiny Tim singing “Bless Us All” without tears, check your pulse.

We do love the more conventional ”Christmas Carols”, too. Patrick Stewart flexes all his acting muscles and lets us see the range of humanity caught in this one damaged, redeemable man.

I hope I have put you on to some movies that will become your favorites, as well.


Grandma Judy

Winter Comes Dripping In

Dear Liza,

I know winter doesn’t really start until December 21st, but it feels like it has already landed here in Portland.

The leaves have fallen from most of the maples. The ginkgoes are still blazing yellow, as if trying to hold off winter’s arrival. But it is cold. It is dark. And it is wet.

Inside where it is warm and dry, we are planning for Thanksgiving. The turkey will be bought pre-cooked from New Seasons Markets but the rest will be homemade…two potatoes, two breads, and maybe three pies, as Auntie Katie has offered two!! And cookies, of course.

Evenings are long now that it gets dark at five o’clock. I have gotten fabric out for another ‘Circles’ pillow. I’ve gotten some books from the library to read to help me with my Teacher Voice problem.

Scrabble games are a regular thing. Last night’s went wrong in a spectacular way….we managed to play ourselves into a corner and almost couldn’t finish!

And, although it seems a bit premature, Christmas movies are being listed, researched and pulled from their boxes. The Bishop’s Wife and Charlie Brown, We’re No Angels and way too many of the Christmas Carols. We have our priorities, after all.

We are ready for winter!


Grandma Judy