RSS Feed

Christmas Movies

 

I have been gobbling down Christmas movies for the past few weeks. Partly because my regular TV shows are on hiatus, but also because the world is so upsetting and dark lately that a little true-love-wins-out is necessary.

I’m exhausted. I can’t quite tell if it’s about the political noise, or the news, or the end of my first semester in social work graduate school, or the endless disappointment of getting my writing rejected that’s wiping me out. I just feel like my motivation tank is getting close to zero, and these movies are keeping me from scraping the bottom.

IMG_0033

Exhausted puppies.

Sugar helps too. I did my own Chanukah Cookie Jamboree, but I only got to four types of cookies before I ran out of space in the freezer. There were the triple chocolate cookies, chocolate chip with Macadamia nuts, almond thumbprints with lemon curd filling, and fruitcake cookies (surprisingly yummy!). I gave away a lot of cookies, but there were enough left over to help smooth out some of the anxiety.

IMG_0173

Cricket likes to bake.

I didn’t realize that taking one graduate class at a time, online, would wear me out so completely. I thought I’d have energy left over to get my own writing done, but I’ve just barely been able to keep up with the blog this semester, let alone work on the other ten projects piled on my night table.

Don’t get me wrong, I like the school work, for the most part. I like the feeling that I’m really starting to understand something about this country I live in, and how social policy actually works, and more often doesn’t work. I feel more grounded because of the reading I’ve done on social justice. I feel like I understand the news better, and understand more of the history that shapes today’s issues.

But instead of feeling inspired and energized, I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck. And then I eat a cookie and watch one of these Christmas movies, which are more about love and family and magic and hope than they are about religion, and I feel a tiny bit better.

Mayim Bialik (a more Jewish girl you could not find) was in a Christmas movie this year. They explained away her very Jewish looks by making her mother Jewish and her father Christian, so she went to Hebrew school but the family still celebrates Christmas every year. Her movie was one of my favorites, because there was only a little bit of magic, in the form of a Santa Clause-esque man who helped her find her plane ticket and nudged her in the right direction. She wasn’t the perfect, blond, success story, she was just an interesting, hardworking, grumpy woman with bad taste in men. And she got a happy ending. Falling in love didn’t land her a great job, or a good friend, or a loving family, because she already had those things. Falling in love only brought her love.

I’ve watched almost all of the Christmas movies, no matter how silly, and there seem to be more than ever this year, with different channels competing to flood the air waves with hard luck stories and plucky heroines. I try not to get too angry about how easily the undiscovered writer/artist/musician finds success before Christmas, and it helps that a lot of these movies are made in Canada and have lots of Canadian accents to cut through the bitterness.

My favorite message in these movies is to slow down and open your eyes to what you already have. Listen to the music. Play in the snow. Laugh with a friend. That’s where the meaning of life has been hiding all along. It’s simplistic, yes, but it’s still true. When I wake up to Cricket’s doggy breath in my face, or watch Butterfly bring her kibble into the living room so she won’t have to eat alone, I feel so much better. These are the moments that save me.

IMG_0313

Cricket’s doggy breath. Can you smell it?

IMG_1916

“Hey Mommy, I have doggy breath too!”

Though I wouldn’t mind if Santa, or the Jewish equivalent, would perform some magic for me this winter and nudge me in the right direction to find a publisher; validation that a lifetime of work really can pay off would be a nice way to start the New Year. And more cookies.

About rachelmankowitz

I am a fiction writer, a writing coach, and an obsessive chronicler of my dogs' lives.

115 responses »

  1. Bravo, Rachel! Keep up your excellent approach to life and your superb writing! Thanks so much for your always optimistic posts, no matter what. Take care, my friend!

    Reply
  2. A little hint to help you through the short grey days; whenever you can, look up into the sky and let the light into your eyes! The winter blues are real — cookies and sweet doggies are essential too. Have you ever seen the movie “Christmas In Connecticut?” an oldie and a hoot. Hang in there amazing lady.

    Reply
  3. b assured, magic happens when you have a tender heart and a bright mind. and believe!

    Reply
  4. Cookies make so many things better, cookies and puppies can fix anything. 😀 I do love puppies more than cookies. However you can’t nibble on a puppy, but you can hug one, just like you can’t hug a cookie, but you can nibble on one and that’s why the two are perfect hand in hand. 😀

    Reply
  5. Hi Rachel – I obviously don’t know your circumstances re publishing your book but, in my limited experience, publishers will only show interest if you are already a successful writer or a celebrity. That is simply because there is minimal gamble in their investment of time. Having said that however, if you are prepared to cover the costs of publishing, I would be surprised if you cannot find a publisher who is interested. Perhaps your moment is waiting in the new year?:)

    Reply
  6. Rachel, the publishing will happen when you have nearly given up it ever happening. It did me!

    Reply
  7. Another Jewish girl that likes Christmas movies? I’m not alone! 🙂

    Reply
  8. I’m right there with…on the sofa with my fur babies watching sappy Christmas movies. There seems to be a lot of ugliness and hate spewed about in the “real” world, so the sofa is my safety zone. I have to check out the Mayim Bialik movies.

    Reply
  9. Marvelous salve for the mind and soul. Thank you. You calm me down and turn me back into the right direction. As Fabio says: Bravo (indeed)!!!

    Reply
  10. I’m right there with you. I’m getting ready to start my first grad level class online after the first of the year. And just like you, I am feeling the negativity in the air SO much lately, that I wonder how I’ll deal with it while taking classes too. Maybe I will pull out my Christmas collection as well to shake off some of the bah-humbugs!

    Reply
  11. Wishing you your dreams come true in the coming year.

    Reply
  12. Mom says to look up the old 1940’s “Shop around the corner” with Jimmy Stewart. She guarantees you will looooove it. They (Hollywood) remade it as “You’ve got mail”. But the old one is better. Mom is baking cookies Monday with her niece. I’m going to have a lot of sniffing/begging to do! Happy holidays! Woof!

    Reply
  13. Rejection slips can be very hard, and believe me, I’ve been there. Watching Christmas movies and eating cookies sounds like the perfect anecdote, but hang in there. You write very well, and you already have many people who would be very disappointed if you quit writing. And that’s saying something…

    Reply
  14. Don’t do it. Jewish, Christian or Canadian-don’t pig out on sugar. It is the primary food of cancer and let’s not go into diabetes. Artifical sweetners aren’t good either. Now you know the parrots’ secret to a long healthy life.

    Reply
  15. We get very few Christmas movies on TV in Australia so I’ll pretend you’re watching on my behalf. I’ve always loved them. Cookies and dogs too. Hope 2016 brings all sorts of good things to you.

    Reply
  16. This post is so uplifting. There is nothing like happy/sappy movies, cookies, and doggie breath to cheer a person up! Please tell Cricket and Butterfly that their breaths came through your post, loud and clear.

    Reply
  17. Lovely post Rachel. Hang in there, the New Year will bring you good news.
    My favourite Christmas Movie is another with Jimmy Stewart, It’s a Wonderful Life.
    Cookies, soppy movies and our furry friends……. what more to make Christmas perfect?

    Reply
  18. I’ve read a couple blogs this morning where people are feeling a little blah. A couple more days and the light starts getting longer!

    Reply
  19. Hi Rachel,
    Really nice post 🙂 Me & my puppy, Liberty, relate to every word.I know it’s not the same as being “published” but have you thought of Kindle Publishing? If you got a good buzz going on an ebook you might feel better plus it could impress a traditional publisher. I’ve heard of that happening …

    Good luck with your writing and studies!

    Reply
  20. Hang in there with your studies, and I always thought your posts were excellent, so those publishers don’t know what they are missing! I always take puppy breath, because I know some day I will miss it….Happy and healthy holidays and new year…keep on keeping on: I’d miss you if you stopped writing! ❤

    Reply
  21. Cookies AND doggy breath? I love it. I hear the optimism in this post, Rachel. Things happen when we least expect it. And now my home address so you can send me some almond thumbprint cookies with lemon curd….. 😀

    Reply
  22. Well, I just got my latest rejection slip. They come in very thin envelopes. The experience is always a downer until you realize that it’s not the end of the world, and there’s so much to be thankful for.

    Reply
  23. Hi Rachel, Just remember, Rod Serling got rejected 45 times before his fist accepted script.After that, he was Rod Serling. James A Pyduck

    From: rachelmankowitz To: james_pyduck@yahoo.com Sent: Saturday, December 19, 2015 4:57 PM Subject: [New post] Christmas Movies #yiv0616856048 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv0616856048 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv0616856048 a.yiv0616856048primaryactionlink:link, #yiv0616856048 a.yiv0616856048primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv0616856048 a.yiv0616856048primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv0616856048 a.yiv0616856048primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv0616856048 WordPress.com | rachelmankowitz posted: ” I have been gobbling down Christmas movies for the past few weeks. Partly because my regular TV shows are on hiatus, but also because the world is so upsetting and dark lately that a little true-love-wins-out is necessary.I’m exhausted. I can’t ” | |

    Reply
  24. I’m with Ann Coleman above. The blogging community is validation of your writing. Don’t hang out for commercial publication. Just keep doing what you’re doing, keep sending out, just turn it round and send it out again when it comes back. Do you know hte Winning Writers newsletter? It’s free online and always has lots of opportunities you may not otherwise hear about. I’m sure some of those publications would be right for your work.

    Reply
  25. We love your writing if that counts!! ❤

    Reply
  26. Rachel, did you see A Dog Named Christmas??? I hope so..if not you have to..Lol! I have seen many of them too.

    d

    Reply
  27. That’s a lot of cookies- and I loved the close up of Cricket is the best!! breath and all! You are a wonderful writer… don’t lose hope!

    Reply
  28. Hang in there Rachel, your time will come. Meanwhile you have your lovely puppies. Sometimes sucess comes at you from left field, from an unexpected direction.

    Reply
  29. I so much like to read your blog because you are such a good writer. I got so inspired by the cookies you made so I decided to make some right the way. I’m glad I didn’t after all as when I make cookies I eat them all right the way. Happy Holidays !

    Reply
  30. Hi Rachel! 🙂 Excellent post 🙂

    Reply
  31. this post was amazing! i love your blog, and it would mean the world if you could possibly check mine out? thank you so much xx

    Reply
  32. I saw that same movie with Mayim Bialik and I LOVED it. And I don’t recognize the man who played her love interest, but he looked a great deal like one of my nephews. He was also adorable in my opinion. So cute. I avoid the Christmas love story movies on the whole, because personally I find them sappy and there’s few of them without a precocious kid inserted in there…but I don’t mind the ones like Mayim’s movie, where it is a bit sappy, but not overly so and there is some mystery and magic. My own secret indulgence at this time of year is finding every version of “A Christmas Carol” that I can and gorging myself on them. And Christmas taffy (the peppermint flavored kind) is my go-to of choice for sweeties. I admit your cookies sounded delicious though, and I experimented myself with making cranberry pistachio bark this year. It turned out pretty well if I do say so. Happy Holidays (I can’t spell Hanukkah…oh look, I DID)…to you and your kids. You surely brighten MY holiday spirit! 🙂

    Reply
  33. We so agree about looking afresh at all that is close to one – that is where happiness lies! Kemo Sabe reaches out for us and we reach for her. Home is where the heart, and happiness, is!

    Reply
  34. I just love your Photo’s they are truly adorable. I am a well believer in little daily activities and the surrounding sounds of the Country side , the snow palying with our pooches. Bring happiness to our hearts . My garden and the Wildlife in All Seasons…is my sanctuary.
    You are a wonderful writer and I wish you luck for the New Year Rachel.
    I to enjoy The Christmas films now showing.
    Sheila x

    Reply
  35. Have you looked into self-publishing an ebook? So many people only read ebooks these days and it’s probably a lot easier to publish there.

    Reply
  36. You’re a great writer Rachel, as the others have said, so here’s hoping for your luck to change in the New Year! Meanwhile happy holidays and lots of cookies and doggy hugs for all of us! PS it could be worse – doggy breath in our household is fuelled by their snacks of chicken and cat poo. Ewwww.

    Reply
  37. I love your writing and look forward to each post. I can’t believe a publisher hasn’t grabbed one of your books yet!

    Reply
  38. Hi Rachel,
    I understand your sense of melancholy at this time of year. I don’t know much about the deeper aspects of Jewish cultural experience at this time of year but as we face the end of another year and look in the mirror, I’m sure most of us feel that sense of unfulfilled ambition and disappointment about something that means the world to us.
    I have been sitting on stories which really could be that best seller and just can’t seem to get cracking for a multitude of reasons, which are all valid but just when I was making sound process, a hailstorm stuck. The roof of my office had something like 60 holes in it and everything had to be relocated for a few weeks and then the hard drive on my computer packed up and my husband is slowly sorting that out. Too slowly! I have my laptop but what with all the Christmas and end of school year stuff with the kids, the moment is gone. I won’t realistically get back to it until February now.
    I also need to start thinking about trying to get some articles published. Turning some of my blog posts into cash. Actually, rephrase that. I need to stop thinking about it and start doing.
    Meanwhile, I am thankful for all that I have and that I’m here for another Christmas. That I saw my son finish Primary school. I never take these things for granted with my health.
    I don’t know if you’ve ever been to 1000 Voices for compassion but it’s a great blogshare every month. I’m not sure if you read my contribution but here’s the link and there’s a link to the link up at the end. Happy Hannukah to you and yours xx Rowena

    Reply
  39. Hang in there, Rachel! Wow, graduate school is really beating you up, it sounds like. I’m glad that you’re finding comfort in watching the Christmas movies. Love and joy is what real life is about, after all. Keep up the good work! -Stephanie

    Reply
  40. A reader of ours guided me to this post after she read mine. I love this post because it shares a common perspective with mine. Cheers to your understanding of Christmas for all. https://afrankangle.wordpress.com/2015/12/24/on-the-spirit-of-christmas-2015/

    Reply
  41. Beautiful post, Rachel! I’m sure I’d bake cookies too if Bumble was an eager and reliable baker, but I’m afraid he would snacking on the dough and it would never reach the oven.

    Reply
  42. I hope the new year brings you what you want xx

    Reply
  43. Pingback: On a Holiday Reprise as Shorts | A Frank Angle

  44. Christmas movies do lift the spirits! I was feeling the same way for the weeks leading up Christmas with so much sadness in the news. There’s something very comforting about them and assurances of happy endings! And as for your writing, 2016 is going to be your year – I feel it!!

    Reply
  45. You’ve already received a lot of validation above but I’ll still add my thoughts. Your style is such that it makes anything you write about interesting. You write very simply, and I mean that as the highest compliment. You know how the best actors don’t seem like they are acting? If you start noticing that they are “acting” then they are not at the top of their craft. Your writing is almost, how to say it … transparent. It seems effortless. I don’t ever stop and notice what you are doing, it just works. My two cents.

    Reply
  46. I think you have discovered the meaning of life: puppy breath and cookies. I have long suspected that might be the case, and now I have someone confirming my suspicions.
    Rejections come and go…mostly they come. Put them in neatly marked files. Place the files in large storage containers. Place the storage containers in the deep recesses of a closet. Close the closet door. Forget about them.
    You are an excellent writer. You truly are. Publishers are, well, just publishers. Someone will discover your work and your ability if you keep on keeping on. It’s
    like college: an endurance test.

    Reply
  47. Love your Maltese. I have had 4 of them but switched to Dachshunds when someone gave me a puppy. Love your writing and thanks for stopping by.

    Reply
  48. Rachel, Christmas would be a lot nicer if one could get in a smaller dose. A new angle on it always helps take the edge off, & your comments on watching Mayim were so right on! Thanks for the laugh.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: