Christmas Movies to Watch and Celebrate

“…Susan’s the reason I asked you to drop down.
She’s a little confused
and I thought maybe
you could help to straighten her out.

I’d be glad to.

Would you please tell her that you’re not really Santa Claus?
That there actually is no such person.

Well, I’m sorry to disagree with you, Mrs.  Walker,
but not only is there such a person, but here I am to prove it.

No, no, no, you misunderstand. I want you to tell her the truth.
Uh, what’s your name?

Kris Kringle.

I mean your real name.

That is my real name.

~ Miracle on 34th Street (1947)


Who doesn't enjoy, or even love, a good Christmas movie? Even those who don't celebrate Christmas very much, if at all, often appreciate a well-made movie that warms the heart, lifts the spirit and inspires goodwill. Even the frothy, cookie-cutter movies on Lifetime and Hallmark can lighten moods during the stresses and pressures of the holiday season.

How the Grinch Can Steal Christmas Creep

Christmas Shopping 1919

“And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow,
stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so?

It came without ribbons. It came without tags.
It came without packages, boxes or bags.

And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before.

What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store.
What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.” 


~ Dr. SeussHow The Grinch Stole Christmas!


According to the idealized vision many of us have of the Christmas holidays, 'tis the season of joy, peace and goodwill. In reality, for many years the season has trended toward a time of frantic shopping for the latest "in" toy or other specialized items and bargains. Retailers even began encroaching on the sacred family day of Thanksgiving, jumping the gun on so-called "Black Friday. Thus, I was relieved to see that this year more stores opted to close on Thanksgiving Day, allowing customers as well as store employees some traditional time with their families and friends. Not that this was an entirely altruistic move on the part of the stores; apparently the effort of opening on Thanksgiving Day simply wasn't worth the trouble. According to Gallup, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day are two of the happiest days for Americans, so why mess with that? Isn't there enough stress in people's lives without disrupting the enjoyment of these two revered days?

The Benefits of Gratitude


Androcles and the Lion

"Gratitude is the sign of noble souls." Aesop

One of my favorite childhood stories is the Aesop's Fable of Androcles and the Lion, and it is still relevant today as the classic tale of gratitude. This is a tale of a simple kind act of a slave who removes a thorn from the paw of a lion, only to meet the same lion again later in one of the legendary arenas of ancient times in which, as punishment, humans were offered as meals to starving and ferocious lions. Both had been captured for these dark purposes. But when the lion saw Androcles he recognized him, and in a dramatic display of gratitude for removing the thorn from his paw he refused to attack. Instead, the lion greeted Androcles affectionately as an old friend.

Here Comes The New Year – Are You Ready?


Let our New Year's resolution be this:
we will be there for one another
as fellow members of humanity,
in the finest sense of the word.
~ Goran Persson


With the beginning of each New Year, many if not most of us start ticking off those areas that we wish to improve in the coming year, sitting down to compose the time-honored -- or infamous, depending on how you look at it -- New Year's Resolutions.

Holiday Season 2015 – “Politically Correct” = Decency and Respect

Some people find it impossible to accept
That all people are deserving of respect
Fairness and decorum they will reject
And scorn it as politically correct.

Two Decembers ago Fox News' Megyn Kelly declared on her show that, " the way for all you kids watching at home Santa just is white…” That statement caused quite a stir, but as the persona of Santa/Saint Nicholas/Father Christmas/Kris Kringle has progressed through several centuries and many countries, it's quite possible that this jolly man might have at some time been darker complexioned than the current version. There is even some historical indication that women might have taken turns during the progression of the Santa concept (although some children in the U.K. who were recently asked if Santa could be a woman had some interesting answers that proved we still have a way to go on the gender bias thing - hmmm).

Holiday Season 2015 – Making Things Better, Not Worse

Open Clipart.Org

 “…you can prove that you’re a Christian.
You can’t prove it, then, you know, you err on the side of caution.”

“…calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States…”

“…I don’t think orphans under five…should be admitted into the United States at this point.”

The news is not good these days for those of us who teach etiquette to students and professionals. You can't pick up a newspaper, watch the news on TV or go online without reading or hearing the maelstrom of incivility aimed at certain ethnic and religious groups.

Holiday Season 2015 – Inclusion

Archie Bunker: “What color is she?” 
Archie’s young niece, Stephanie: “A regular color.”
All in the Family, Season 9, Episode 25 - The Family Next Door


Back in the 1970s, All in the Family was one of the top TV shows and in the view of many one of the greatest TV series ever produced. It was also a groundbreaker, addressing the controversial and divisive issues of the decade. The show centered on Archie Bunker, a loudmouthed, undereducated, white middle class blue collar worker who was a bigot. Archie rarely passed up an opportunity to offend someone, either behind their backs to their faces. His absurd and outrageous remarks were both shocking and funny. Indeed, it was the comedic nature of the show that softened the contentious situations and biting dialogue, and the reactions of those who were offended and often bewildered by his odd use of the English language. Archie's intolerance was balanced by his longsuffering wife, Edith, who was inclusive and kind-hearted, and his feminist-minded daughter and liberal-minded college student son-in-law. The latter two regularly challenged Archie's bigotry and ignorance, sometimes revealing their own hypocrisies. However, it was clear throughout the series that Archie's attitude and behavior were dead wrong. Through his dramatization of what a bigot looks like, Archie Bunker raised the consciousness of a nation   


Romantic Relationships As Viewed From Venus & Mars

Men always want to be a woman's first love. 
Women have a more subtle instinct:
What they like is to be a man's last romance.~ Oscar Wilde

With Valentine's Day coming up this weekend, what better time to turn to the subject of romance, which men and women often view through different lenses. While we are all Earthlings it often seems as though we come from different planets, such as Mars and Venus, as John Gray asserted in his bestseller, Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus.