Christmas Mass – Children’s Mass

In our Parish on Christmas Eve the evening mass is (traditionally) known as the “Children’s Mass”. 

Is it because Christmas is about the celebration of Christ’s  being born (as a child)??  Is it because a lot of the focus of Christmas is about children??  Is it because on Christmas Eve the kids are so antsy and squirrely that they need anything they can to help distract them from the impending arrival of Santa??  Is it all of the above??

During Children’s Mass – the children of the Parish are asked to participate in the Mass (procession, readings, gifts, etc).  One of the highlights of the mass is the “Living Nativity”.  Usually comprised of the littlest of the children (who can not read or participate in any other way), the “Living Nativity” consists of shepherds, angels,  the Three Wise Men, a Joseph, and a Mary. 

This year, #4 of 4 was asked to do a reading, and #5 of 5 was asked to play the part of Mary!

The “Living Nativity” lasts from the Procession to and through a blessing of the large Crèche upon the alter. (A few short minutes).

In reality, the only time 90% of the parish can actually see the “Living Nativity” is during the procession (the first two photos below).  In what is most likely “bad forum”, I snuck up the side isle of church, and crammed my large frame into a tiny crevice where I was able to sneak the remainder of the photos you see below.

The Mother of Five and the remaining children not involved in the mass were unable to see the “Living Nativity” from their seats.  The photos were the only way we could enjoy the scene.  There was one other parent up there with me - I presume by the angle of the photos she was taking – she was “Joseph’s” mother.  (I hope I was not too much of a distraction for Fr. Yanta!)

As always, our Parish Priest, Fr. Timothy Yanta, did a OUTSTANDING job dealing with all the kids while providing  inspirational leadership to his parish!  We are a blessed parish (and school) to have Fr. Yanta as our Priest and spiritual leader!  I can not say enough about what a WONDERFUL job he does!! 
(Thank you Fr. Yanta – if you are reading this!!  Thank you for ALL you do for us!

IMG_0182

IMG_0183

IMG_0185

 

(Left to Right)

#4 of 5 carrying a candle during the procession.

#5 of 5 as Mary, with Joseph, and our Parish Priest Fr. Timothy Yanta

#5 of 5 as Mary, with Joseph, and our Parish Priest Fr. Timothy Yanta

 

 

IMG_0184

IMG_0186

(Left to right)

Fr. Yanta directing “Mary” (#5 of 5) and “Joseph” towards the Crèche.

“Mary” (#5 of 5) and Joseph placing the figurine of the Baby Jesus in the Crèche.

 

 

 

 

IMG_0187

IMG_0188

(Left to right)

“Mary” (#5 of 5) and Joseph placing the figurine of the Baby Jesus in the Crèche.

Fr. Timothy Yanta initiating the beginning of the Christmas Eve Mass with a blessing over the Crèche.

 (…and no, I am not marketing any sort of “Father of Five” branded shepherd hooks – my watermark just seemed to fit well in that spot…)

 

 

 

IMG_0189

IMG_0190

 

(Left to right)

A photo of a portion of the cast of the “Living Nativity” as seen from our seats (in the back end of the Sanctuary).  Sorry about the poor photo quality

#5 of 5 back at our seats, (and before changing out of her costume) upon completion of her duties as "Mary”

…Speechless…

Today when I woke up, there was a package at my door.  The package’s return address was EJH Woodworking.  I was a bit surprised because best bud Ed and I decided to forgo exchanging Christmas gifts this year, but when I looked a little closer at the address label, I noticed that the package was not being delivered to me.  No, the label was addressed to #2 of 5 and #3 of 5.

Being a tad bit curious, we called the boys upstairs, and had them open the package.  Just inside the box (on top of the contents) was a letter written to my boys from best bud Ed.

Merry Christmas Boys.

As you may or may not know, I’ve started my own woodworking business.  Having just finished my workshop, I’m proud to say that you are the recipients of my first project under the name EJH Woodworking!

May you get many years of use out of this.

Rules are the same for 3 players, however each player is dealt 5 cards and 1 card dealt to the crib.

Take it easy on your dad.  He’s getting old and the mind is not as sharp as it used to be.

One more note – Your dad likes to cheat.  Keep a close eye on him!

Merry Christmas,
Ed

 

Under the letter was a package wrapped in bubble wrap.  After we removed the object from it's bubble wrap cocoon, I saw the SECOND most amazing cribbage board I have ever seen!! 

(The title “MOST amazing cribbage board I have ever seen” (link) is already taken!)

What I saw was a hand made, solid oak, three track cribbage board built on a pedestal stand, with a hinged lid for on-board storage providing room for two decks of cards, and the cribbage pegs.  This is the kind of cribbage board that I LOVE!  It is 6” x 15” inches, and 3 1/2” inches tall, and HEAVY DUTY! 

It has a timeless classy look, and because of the pedestal base, the cribbage board has some heft to it (which I love!).  Puny little cribbage boards that skate around the table as you try to peg your points are just not my thing.  I like my boards to be the focal point or a table "centerpiece", and let me tell you, this one qualifies! 

What Ed made for the boys is nothing less than AMAZING!  It truly is a unique, custom, hand made cribbage board that the phrase “Heirloom quality” only just begins to describe! 
 
Since a picture is worth a thousand words….
 
cribbage   cribbagecribbage  cribbage 

If anyone reading this post would be interested in a cribbage board like this one for themselves, or as a special gift, I would urge you to get a hold of Ed at EJHWoodworking (phone and email available on the website by following the link). 

You will not be disappointed!

PostCrossing

Recently, I have stumbled across the blog of Erika Jean (another GeoCacher) through a comment she left over at AtHomeDaddyGPS (actually, I stumbled across her blog TWICE - in two separate / unrelated instances) in addition to her comments for AtHomeDaddy, I stumbled across another comment she left at the Six Journals Project (more on the Six Journals Project later). 
 
Besides reading about her exploits into GeoCaching, I noticed something else on her blog that caught my interest.
 
 
What is PostCrossing?  (Taken from the "About PostCrossing" page)
"The goal of this project is to allow people to receive postcards from all over the world, for free. Well, almost free! The main idea is that: if you send a postcard, you will receive at least one back from a random Postcrosser from somewhere in the world.

Why? Because, like the author, there are lots of people who like to receive real mail.
The element of surprise of receiving postcards from different places in the world (many of which you probably have never heard of) can turn your mailbox into a box of surprises - and who wouldn't like that?"

Initially, I was intrigued - despite my initial interest, I completely forgot about following up with it.  Then, I stumbled across a different blog talking about PostCrossing.  Again, I was intrigued, but not enough to check further.  Then, yesterday, while catching up on ErikaJean.com - I spotted another entry about PostCrossing.  This time, my interested was peaked enough to check into it. 

While checking it out, I decided to take the plunge and sign up.  I signed up, registered an account (free), verified that account, and requested my first address to mail a post card to... 

FINLAND!

Who knows!  This could turn out to be pretty fun little hobby!  (Do I smell yet ANOTHER blog in the future?

Check out my PostCrossing profile - HERE.

 

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas…

 

IMG_0156Well, actually it was the DAY before Christmas…

Ninety-nine percent of Christmas preparations are complete.  Tree trimmed, gifts wrapped and placed under the tree, cookies made (and sampled), egg nog (well, actually Land-O-Lakes “Holly Nog” – which is surprisingly void of any representation on the web) chilling in the refrigerator, and the kids are home from school (and in a surprisingly good mood, but hey – Santa’s watching… Right?  I guess they think they better behave in the last 24 hour stretch!).  In other words….

The Stockings were hung by the “banister” with care!  (We do not have a chimney)

Then, mother nature seemingly had her own plans.  She is wholloping us with a good old fashioned one-two punch! 

Wave one started last night around the time I left to carpool #4 of 5 and the rest of the girls from St. John’s who attend Kathy’s Sewing School.  We made it there and back without issue.  Then throughout the night, the first wave of this winter storm did it’s worst.

With phase two on it’s way (and promising to deposit even more snow that phase 1) – it became important to clear the driveway / sidewalk / deck of snow.  If you let it get too deep, clearing it cam become a struggle in futility.

IMG_0158 IMG_0162 IMG_0163 IMG_0160  IMG_0159

Now that the snow has been moved (at least for phase 1), we are all inside warming up – the preparation for our Christmas Eve is underway.  Finish the pies (Mother of Five), write this blog post (Father of Five), last minute cleaning / straitening (the Father of Five and the kids) – we should have a little bit of time to relax (I’d love for the Mother of Five to sneak in a nap… She is exhausted) before getting ready for Church.

On that note, have I mentioned that #5 of 5 was chosen to be the “Mary” in the “Living Nativity” during Children's mass? 

Well, she was. 

I’m a little worried though… She can be so quiet, reserved, anxious, and apprehensive.  I am not sure she knows what she agreed to do here (sitting in front of the whole congregation during mass).  I guess time will tell.

IMG_0151

 

 

The time has come… 

With our Christmas festivities “locked and loaded” – I doubt I’ll have much time for checking back in here on the Blog or Facebook, so I’d like to sign off for Christmas with my and my family’s best wishes and prayers to all of you for a happy, joyous, and wonderful Christmas! 

Merry Christmas to you!

The Story of Snoopy

This story / tradition goes back ten... maybe twelve years now (to be honest, I have lost track).  The opening scene is in a recently opened Kohl's Department Store.  While out Christmas shopping together, the Mother of Five, and the "Mother of the Father of five" noticed a drawing being held...  First prize was a vacation trip.  Second prize was a set of four Minnesota Vikings tickets.  The Mother of Five put her name in the drawing, (truthfully) hoping to win the Vikings tickets. 

Fast forward about a week or so... 

I answer the ringing telephone, and am asked if this is the residence of the "Mother of Five" (only she was "mother of three" at that time).  I answer yes.  The caller asked to speak to the "Mother of Five".  I tell the caller that she is not home.  The caller asks if I am her husband.  I answer yes, I am.  The caller asks me to have the Mother of Five come into the new Kohls store and claim her prize.

Prize??  WOO HOO!!!  Pack our bags, we are going on VACATION! (Or at the very least, we are going to a Vikes game!!)

I thanked the caller, and advised her that the Mother of five will be stopping in.

When she returned home, I told the Mother of Five that we had won the contest, and that Kohls would like to see her ASAP.  The Mother of Five headed off to Kohls to lay claim our bounty!

After claiming our prize and driving back home again, I watched the Mother of Five get out of, and walk around to the back of the car.  She opened the trunk, and hauled out the LARGEST stuffed Snoopy (wearing a Christmas collar) that I have EVER seen! 

2008aThe Mother of five brought the monster sized stuffed Snoopy in, and told me that we did not win the Vacation Package, that we did not win the Vikings tickets, but we did win the "consolation prize" - The huge stuffed Snoopy that was used as the store display for holding the box that contestants stuffed their entry forms into.  I am sure it was mentioned somewhere on the back of the entry form (in tiny print) that the Snoopy would also be given away to some "lucky shopper".

I know what you are thinking at this point, so let me clear this up.  This Snoopy was NOT what I would categorize as one of those giant "carnival quality" stuffed animal...

No, this Snoopy is what I would consider a pretty impressive "commercial quality" stuffed animal.

Snoopy was an immediate hit with the boys.  Because they were so small (and it was so big) they could climb all over him, and actually sit on (and snuggle up in) Snoopy's lap.  What were we going to do with this thing? we asked ourselves.  We discussed our options, and decided to keep him through Christmas, and follow up after Christmas by donating him to a organization that could use a monster sized stuffed Snoopy.  When Christmas had come and gone (and we started packing up the Christmas decorations) the boys asked us if we could hang on to Snoopy for one more Christmas (which we did).  "One more Christmas" turned into a third Christmas, then a fourth Christmas... Somewhere along the line the girls (child #4 and #5) came along and Snoopy's presence became an integral part of Christmas in the FOF household.

IMG_0001a 2006c 2006a

 IMG_0002a  2006b

2008b 2006d

IMG_0132 IMG_0134

This year, my in-laws went out of state to visit the Mother of Five's Brother and his wife (henceforth to be known as BIL#2 and SIL#2) and their two sons (henceforth to be known as Cousin-M (age 4) and Cousin-C(less than a year old)).  Since Cousin-M is such a huge Snoopy fan, the Mother of Five brought our Snoopy to her parents house.  She asked her parents about the possibility of bringing our Christmas Snoopy with them to "visit" Cousin-M and Cousin-C during their visit. 

Grandma and Grandpa did indeed bring Snoopy with them, but warned Cousin-M ahead of time that Snoopy wanted to come for a visit, but really wanted to be able to come back home to our house.  Cousin-M understood, and welcomed Snoopy into his home.

DSC01221DSC01231 DSC01225 

Snoopy was as immediate a hit with Cousin-M as he was at our house!  They spent the week together.  They played in a playpen, read stories, played toys and games together...   Cousin-M even introduced his (regular sized) Snoopy to it's "Daddy Snoopy".  They made memories of their own!

When it came time for Grandma, Grandpa, and Snoopy to return - Cousin-M made sure Snoopy's son (his Snoopy) got an opportunity to say goodbye, and (through BIL#2 and SIL#2) sent a note along with Snoopy - thanking us for letting him visit, and asking about the possibly of Snoopy's return to their house next year!!

DSC01216 DSC01224

 

Dear #4 of 5, #5 of 5, #2 of 5, #3 of 5 and #1 of 5

Thank you for letting Snoopy come to my house.  I hope he can come back another day.

Love Cousin-M
(and it was signed with a big letter “M”, written all by himself!)

- - - -


Daddy -
Will you come back to see me again?

Love Snoopy your son.

 

(copy of the actual note that came home with Snoopy)

I foresee many years of Snoopy in our Christmases.  Between our children, our nephews, and (potentially) future grandchildren - Snoopy will not be going anywhere...  He will have a guaranteed spot in our living room or family room for MANY YEARS to come!

It's truly amazing how something (like Snoopy) can be transformed from an almost "let down" (thinking we won a much bigger and more valuable prize) - and something we had to try to figure a way to "get rid of", into something that has become a beloved part of our Christmas, and one of our biggest family traditions!

A tradition with more (sentimental) value than we could have predicted, and more value than either (or both) the Vacation prize package or the Vikings Ticket Package could have ever equaled...

Keeping With the Christmas Theme

IMG_0119#4 of 5 came home with an assignment.  It was intended to be “open ended”.  Bring in a “Nativity Scene” that you have created.  It can be drawn, molded, carved, or painted.

Being our creative, artistic, and craft driven child (which she does NOT get from me), we gave her full license.  We only asked her to tell us what she needed, and then (my plan was) to let her run with it.

She asked for the just the manger from one of our “store bought” Nativity Scenes.  She then asked to be taken to the craft store and pick up some Crayola Model Magic.  (Very interesting stuff.. Lightweight, non sticky, non crumbling, dries firm, but still slightly soft…)

She spent the next three days modeling her Model Magic. 

IMG_0126At first, she came down and showed off her every accomplishment… (Daddy, here is Mary’s body.  Daddy, here is Mary’s Arm.  Daddy, here is Mary’s other arm – and so on….)   Then it tailed off to showing me only complete figures…

Then, when the figures were complete (and she was not yet satisfied) she asked to be taken back to the craft store for some felt and fabric paint and glitter glue (for hair, crowns, capes, etc…

She has finally completed the project…  I was impressed with what she came up with (all on her own)…

It’s a dad’s job to be proud of his children and want to show off the things they do well.  This is me doing just that!

IMG_0123 IMG_0124

Cheaters Never Win (or so I keep trying to tell myself)

So, tell me what I should think about this…

Today #5 of 5 (five year old daughter) has a pretty icky sounding cough, and the sniffles (I presume they are related), so the Mother of Five and I decided that she was going to stay home with me today.

#5 of 5 was pretty excited about the prospect, and woke this morning eager to start her day home with daddy.  First up on the agenda… A game of Sorry! – the only problem?  She was JUST out of bed, the other kids were still getting ready, and I was ordering a Christmas present on line (and needed to complete the transaction). 

We told her to take the game upstairs, and we would set it up on the kitchen table as soon as everyone was finished with breakfast, and the table was cleaned up.

After finishing my Christmas shopping, I headed upstairs and found #5 of 5 eating her breakfast on the table.  I started to clean the table off when I noticed the Sorry! cards on the table.  I reached for them (in order to move then so I could clear off the table) when out of nowhere a little voice told me not to move the cards. 

Hmm… Odd…  I said “Ok, I know you want to play, but let me move them so I can clean off the table.”  #5 of 5 agreed to that as long as I (in her words) “not mix up the cards”…  (even more Hmm… Odd…. )

I did not…  She watched me move them to our pass through, and set them down without disturbing any of the cards… 

And this is where the story starts taking it’s turn down the “’dark side”…

As I continued to clean the kitchen, out of the corner of my eye I spotted a little pink pajama’ed girl sneak over to the deck of cards and take a peek at the top card…  (Presumably) satisfied, she snuck back to the table to finish her breakfast.

Now, I am not going to check that deck before we play, but I have a sneaking suspicion that #5 of 5 is going to want to go “first”, and the first card she is going to draw is going to be a “2”…  (Start a man out or move one man two spaces, then DRAW AGAIN).

sorry

UPDATE:  #5 of 5 did indeed ask to “start”.  The first TWO cards of the deck were a “1” (take one man out of start)… When I said “Wow, that’s funny!  Two number ones in a row”, #5 of 5 said, “No it’s not Daddy… I put them there for us”.

At least she cheated for BOTH of us – which is not quite as nefarious as I originally presumed…. 

In the end, despite my having all four men out with her having none (after I sent her first (cheated) man back home with a Sorry! card) – she still came back to beat me!!

“Superior Scribbler Award”

I sure have not been around much, have I? 

I could whine on and on about why that is, and for you regulars here – you can see that the posts I created that did just that (“Stuck in a Rut”) are gone…  I was less than pleased by their outcome, and (frankly) the “funk” I was in only lasted a couple of days – so by continuing to write these posts, I was only dragging myself back down. 

I felt it was counter-productive to blogging, and to achieving a better mood… So (shazam!) the are off into the nether-regions of “The Life of a Father of Five” like so many other unfinished posts…  They are in (as the King of Clubs like to call it) my “…as evening approached…” zone. 

Who knows…  Maybe the next time I am in a funk or a rut, they will pop back into existence (now that they are already written – thus making them much easier to complete, and much quicker to post).. 

They are only a button click away.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, was pleasantly surprised this morning when I found that of my regular blog stops… Eric of OMG I’m a Daddy named me for a blog award he too was selected for. 

superior scribbler award




The “Superior Scribbler Award” originated by The Scholastic Scribe 

  • Each Superior Scribbler must in turn pass The Award on to 5 most-deserving Bloggy Friends.
  • Each Superior Scribbler must link to the author & the name of the blog from whom he/she has received The Award.
  • Each Superior Scribbler must display The Award on his/her blog, and link to This Post, which explains The Award.
  • Each Blogger who wins The Superior Scribbler Award must visit this post and add his/her name to the Mr. Linky List. That way, we'll be able to keep up-to-date on everyone who receives This Prestigious Honor.
  • Each Superior Scribbler must post these rules on his/her blog.


First off.. Thank you Eric!  Like I said above, I have been in a bit of a blogging rut lately, and this may be just what I need to help me out!

Secondly (and this is always the hardest part), I am to name five additional blogs that are deserving of this award. 

What I find hard about this is there are quite a few well deserving blogs that I frequent that deserve this award… More than the five I am allowed to name. 

Then, there are the bloggers that do not actually like receiving these awards…  So out of respect, I will refrain from naming them.

As you can see in THIS LINK, you can see there has been some consistancy in my previous naming of “award winning” blogs.  Not that those blogs do not deserve being named in this award (because they do.. and you know who you are), but to “shake things up a bit” – I am going to name 5 blogs that I have not previously named as “award winners” – just to help spread the word on some of these other great blogs!

Daddy’s Fish Bowl – Keith is a prolific writer, and father of two seemingly energetic boys.  I have had a lot of fun meeting Keith and his family through the fish bowl, and we have gotten to know each other a little better through FaceBook too!

Meet Virginia – Much like my wife, Virgina WAS a “Mother of Five”… That was until they had their SIXTH!!  Yikes!  Since Six is not going to happen here, I’ll just have to read about it through her blog!

JDZPhotography – Throwin’ a bone here…  Jeff is a co-worker.  Jeff has a blog… A “photography” blog that truly has very little writing in it.  I keep taunting him to do some WRITING, but he keeps reminding me his blog is about PHOTOGRAPHY.  But since he just finished his third NaBloPoMo (and I have never attempted it), I thought I’d throw him some luv!  Jeff… How about it… How about some WORDS?!?!

Common Mom – Jodie is a down to earth mother of two with a great common sense approach…  She has a connection back here to Minnesota, and I enjoy keeping up with their family exploits!  I have a sneaking suspicion there are going to be some future posts that I will really enjoy (a “tip” I received via email).

Juggling Eric – Eric is a father of four, and only a couple of weeks away from being a father of five… (Sorry Eric… Father of Five is already taken as a blog title, and I am pretty attached to it!! (wink)  More on that in the near future!!)  Looking forward to reading about their fifth, and bringing back some memories of my own!

So there you have it… A list of five (five of my regular reads that I have never previously named for an award)… I hope you find some good stuff there… I know I have.

And for all the other well deserving bloggers out there (i.e. the ones I frequently award, or that do not wish to be awarded – and you all know who you are) – please do not feel too left out – I am quite certain you will find your blogs linked here (or named in future awards) in the not too distant future! 

The Christmas Events Keep on Rolling In.

As I stated in the last post (And So Starts the Christmas Season), Christmas is usually TABOO for me until after Thanksgiving.  I blogged about making an exception for Disney's A Christmas Carol in that last post.  What I forgot to factor in was our concert plans the very next week... (Last Night). 

So I stand corrected... AGAIN.

Last night, I attended my first "Arena" style concert since 1992.  In 1992 I saw "The Cure" during their "Disintegration" Tour.  It was held at the Target Center in Minneapolis.  Last night, I made my triumphant return to "Arena Concerts" at (of all places) the Target Center in Minneapolis! 

The Mother of Five and I saw this year's "Trans-Siberian Orchestra"  Christmas show! 

Who is the Trans-Siberian Orchestra you ask?  Let me show you!

TSO takes classical music (including some classic Christmas music) and uses "artistic license" to create a Rock and Roll sound to the original.  You can usually pick up on the original in the background, but what TSO does to that original piece is nothing short of AMAZING!

First of all, I want to thank my Cousin Bob, who helped me find tickets to this show.  By the time I heard about it, it was almost all but sold out, and I was having a hard time finding tickets.  Bob (being as connected as he is in the music industry) lead me in the right direction for some AWESOME seats!! 

Bob, you ROCK!

We started our day off by a trip to the Mall of AmericaWe The Mother of Five had some returns to take care of (I HATE returning items... but that is a story for another time) so we took care of our returns, then burned up the better part of three hours shopping.  We wrapped up our Mall excursion with a a delightful dinner at Tony Roma's.  I had a delightful Grilled Asian Chicken Salad, while the Mother of Five enjoyed a Grilled Chicken Sonoma Salad.  After dinner we took the Light Rail from the Mall to the Target Center in Downtown Minneapolis.

Once we arrived we found our seats.  We were surprised to see that our seats were front row, and dead center of the second section back on the main floor.  We were 20 rows back from the center of the main stage, and we had an isle in front of us to stretch our legs out.  At least for a "tall and fat" guy like me, that is nothing less than PERFECT

All we could say when we saw the seats was WOW!

I do not remember the Target center being so small.  I had main floor seating for "The Cure" as well, but it seemed (as my memory serves me) that we were so much further back...

The concert itself was AMAZING!  It certainly was not as loud as I remember concerts being (which means I am loosing my hearing, or they were not as loud)...  That was until they played an encore that was a sample from their upcoming "Night Castle" tour set list.  They turned the volume up.... WAY UP... for these songs... and it was AMAZING

What TSO does with classical music, and traditional Christmas songs is something to be seen!  The CD's are great, but seeing it preformed live, with fire - and laser displays, and smoke, and sparks, and falling snow, and....  Well - it is (for me) a forgotten way to enjoy music.  Live, loud, and preformed!

Please forgive the quality of these photos.  They were taken with my 1.3mp camera phone, and in the dark - so the quality is less than stellar...

a11-14-09_1939 a11-14-09_1942

a11-14-09_2230 a11-14-09_2231

a11-14-09_2235 a11-14-09_2256

a11-14-09_2258

And So Starts the Christmas Season

And let me tell you... Nothing makes me sicker than even THINKING about Christmas before Thanksgiving...  but this year I made an exception.  One single and special exception.  

As previously noted in...

A Christmas Treasure

A Christmas Treasure Part 2

I have a certain affinity for a couple of very specific versions of  Charles Dickens' story "A Christmas Carol".  Couple that with a low tolerance for different versions, and you end up with a recipe for an "A Christmas Carol" snob.  Let me spell it out for you.  As far as I am concerned, there are four acceptable versions of the story. 

  • First and foremost - there is the original and unabridged Charles Dickens manuscript.  The book, if you will. 

  • Then, there is my "all-time-never-to-be-replaced favorite version", the Lionel Barrymore version recorded on MGM records in 1955 (which IS NOT the "Campbell's Playhouse" version - although they are very similar.

  • My third favorite version, is the 1951 film "Scrooge" staring Alastair Sim - (the black and white version). 

  • The fourth version that is "acceptable" (in my humble opinion) is another audio only recording.  It is the 1941 version recorded by Decca records that stars Ronald Coleman as Ebenezer Scrooge.  It's sort of my "back up" audio version.

AChristmasCarol So, when I first noticed the television commercial for Disney's A Christmas Carol (available in digital 3D) I was apprehensively curious about it.  I viewed it as another potential version bound for nether-regions of my mind as "forgettable", yet on the other hand, the previews sure seemed good.

My dad and I share similar opinions on the different versions of "A Christmas Carol".  The above listed versions have been a big part of our family rituals growing up, and (I am fairly certain) they are as meaningful to him as they are to me.  So, for his birthday, we took my Mom and Dad out - and saw "Disney's A Christmas Carol - in digital 3D" to give it a try.

We saw it last week (which is way ahead of my "No Christmas before Thanksgiving" rule) - but given the prospect of my schedule, the Mother of Five's schedule, and my parent's schedules - it was "speak now, or forever hold your peace" (i.e.  violate my own rule).

First off, it was so much fun seeing A Christmas Carol with my parents!  As kids they used to take us to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts screening of the Aliastair Sim film "Scrooge".  It was a holiday tradition of ours for MANY years.  Somewhere along the line (for us boys it's called the three W's...  Work, Women, and Wheels), or was it that the Art Institute stopped playing it (I do not remember) - but somewhere along the line, the tradition ceased... 

Secondly... My thoughts on the movie. 

(Spoiler warning... in as much as you can be "spoiled" on the story of Ebenezer Scrooge... I think most people know how it ends...)

a_christmas_carol First off, I have never seen a 3D movie before.  It was quite the experience.  Given our four choices - 2D regular theater, 3D regular theater, "Muller Monster Screen" (2D)**, or Imax 3D (at almost twice the price) - we chose the 3D regular sized screen.

** The Muller Monster Screen is a screen that is 80 feet wide (twice as wide as my house) and 35 feet tall (3 stories tall).  It is the largest theatre screen in Minnesota, and the auditorium seats nearly 600 people in high back rocker chair seats.

Watching this movie in 3D (and my first experience in 3D) did have some affect on my opinion (both good and bad).

The imagery was nothing less than STUNNING.  The flyovers of late nineteenth century London was quite amazing.  In the days of natural gas and LP heating, we forget what a densely populated city in a cold climate would look like with all the houses burning wood and coal.  Tufts of black soot spewing from rooftops as far as the eye could see! 

The Character of Ebenezer Scrooge was done very well.  Despite his exaggerated features (hook nose and extended "witch like" chin) - it fit well within the movie. 

Picture-217Again, the 3D was quite amazing, but I did feel that (at times) the story itself was modified to take advantage of the 3D.  There has always been flying over the city in the story, but sliding over rooftops, with icicles flying at him, or shrinking and sliding down downspouts and gutters??

Jim Carey as Ebenezer Scrooge (not to mention several other characters)?  Wonderful performance.  I do enjoy Jim Carey, and his portrayal of Ebenezer was truly enjoyable.  I can not confirm this fact, but you can almost hear his enthusiasm for this roll coming through his voice. 

And the story... The story itself stayed pretty close to true.  I counted three of the scenes I have always felt important (even though not all of them were part of the ORIGINAL book) to the story that were missing...

#1 - Ebenezer's Sister Bell's deathbed request that Ebenezer take care of her son Fred.  She died just after giving birth, and whispers her request with all that she has left - only to NOT be heard by Ebenezer.  Scrooge's realization that he did not fulfill his sisters deathbed wish, and understanding that he blamed Fred for the loss of his sister is a crucial turning point in Ebenezer's "turn".

#2 - Jacob Marley's Deathbed scene.  Although the movie starts with Ebenezer and Jacob's undertaker with Jacob laying in a wooden casket shows Ebenezer's lack of caring for his fellow man - it does so only after his best friend has died.  I think an important part of the story is hearing (seeing) that Ebenezer has lackluster feelings towards his best friends death - even while siting with him in his last moments.  Then, to immediately turn back to the cold and calculating "scrooge" only seconds after he passes - is yet another example of showing the cold and cruel "Ebenezer" before his realization and subsequent "turn" to good.

#3 - The Cratchet's on Christmas Morning.  After Ebenezer's "turn" he orders the "Prize Turkey" hanging in the butcher's window... To be delivered to Bob Cratchet and family on Christmas Morning... He does so anonymously, and the shock and surprise of receiving the turkey on Christmas Morning is one of the scenes that shows that Ebenezer's makeover is complete.  He does so selflessly.  He has no intent of showing up to partake, nor does he choose to let the Cratchets know it was he who did it. 

With the addition of these three scenes, Disney would have (in my opinion) hit the ball out of the park..  I do not know if this is the case, but I felt these scenes were sacrificed so they could add additional 3D scenes that are visual ONLY.  (Sliding down rooftops, gutters, and downspouts). 

They did add one scene (3D in nature) that I felt DID enhance the movie.

(SPOILER ALERT)

After the movie ended, #4 of 5 and The Mother of Five said they did not get the part of the movie where he shrunk down, and was being chased by a horse and carriage..  I shared with them my thoughts on this... The shrinking down part was added (I felt) as a 3D enhancement, so Ebeneezer could slide down pipes sewers and gutters in 3D, but the fact that he was being chased by horses (evil horses with red eyes) and a phantom (The Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come) driver of the carriage was significant.  The carriage was a shadowy image of a horse drawn hearse of days gone by...  Ebenezer running from the hearse (death) and the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come (his unchanged evil ways of the past) would eventual catch up him, and be his undoing.

- - - -

Dispite the movie's few and minor shortcomings, it's true to story, visual impact, and even a little bit of artistic license (see above), I truly did enjoy this version of the movie.  Since we still have a few "little ones" at home, I am certain that this movie will become part of our collection, and something we enjoy (at least for the foreseeable future).

Thanks Disney... Maybe not "out of the park", but I'd definitely say a home run on this one!

Did you reach the Bottom of this blog?

If you have read down to here and are interested in reading more, be sure to click here, click on the "Older Posts" link to your right, or use the "Archive" tool on the right sidebar. Thanks for visiting!