Willy Wonka (1971). Directed by Mel Stuart and starring my favorite comedian, Gene Wilder. Also starring Jack Albertson. Sorry, Tim and Johnny, your 2005 version didn’t hold a candle to the original. Willy Wonka is my idea of Santa Claus. He has a secret shop run by little oopma-loompas. He wears funny clothes. He has magical capabilities like elevators that burst out ceilings, chocolate rivers where he quotes John Keats, and he gives a boy his greatest present: love, friendship, and a ticket out of poverty. Okay, well, maybe Santa Claus doesn’t do that, but both versions do grant wishes, don’t they? I cry every time I watch the ending; I’m so glad for Charlie. “So shines a good deed in a weary world.”
In the old days, Christmas Eve consisted of wrapping final presents, cooking, cleaning and baking. Mass at 5:00p.m. and then snacks and gift exchange at my parents. Finally, a festive party at my dearest friends. On Christmas Day, I always served homemade corned-beef hash, pastries, and plenty of Mamossas or Bloody Marys for siblings and myself. Nap time at 1pm. Christmas evening, my kids and I would bundle up and traipse downtown and go to the movies. If my kids were still kids, we’d be watching Frozen.
Your daughters will grow up, and one day they will be holding the hacksaw. When they are adults, it’s fun to play cards with them.
Now my kids have grown and begun their own traditions and producing kids of their own. I have learned to make new traditions for myself. Christmas Eve for me is still Mass at five, watching Mikhail Baryshnikov and Gelsey Kirkland dance in The Nutcracker, and then sitting next to the fireplace having a cocktail and listening to music. My daughter and granddaughter are here with me this year, so it’s a girly Christmas. The corned-beef is roasting slowly. The O.J. and champagne are chilled. The fire is crackling, and we will watch Love Actually and another favorite of mine at Christmas time, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971).
I’m having fun reading all the posts from my virtual friends about their holiday traditions, favorite Christmas movies, and photographs of winter beauty around the world. I raise my glass and wish for you, Guten Appetit and Frohe Weihnachten.