How Mr Banks Saved Christmas
I appreciate people who love to plan. I am not one who can tell you what I will be doing in six months unless I am traveling. Most Saturdays you will find us at Peet's coffee. After 27 seasons of soccer, 4 seasons of football, and so on, planning is no longer my favorite activity. Unless,.... perhaps an adventure to another land or out of town for the weekend. That's why they call me tirelesstraveler.
Christmas Day. The man who can plan corporate moves from one city to another,the man who can plan shipments of equipment to places nobody has heard of, the man who plans software releases for one of the largest the computer companies in the world, leaves all the social planning to me. Planning makes my head hurt. Most people like tradition. Tradition is safe and everyone knows what to expect. Tradition is normal. Traditions lure people into thinking nothing will change. I like change, but I like traditions because they don't require me to plan family events. Tradition gives us freedom to work within structure everyone understands.
When my brother was in the 6th grade and I in kindergarten, he learned about Mexico. He also learned how to make pinatas. He and I started making them as a team until he left for the Air Force. By then I was well trained, and took over the yearly task. Everyone remembers the Christmas the pinata finally broke and all the candy was crushed. Every Christmas Eve the party was at Grandma's, When Grandma's was too small for all of us, Christmas Eve moved to my uncles house. Then to our house. The routine was the same. Eat a huge dinner, break the pinata, go in the back of the house to listen for Santa Claus. When the Dad's and uncles had apparently visited with Santa, the small kids ran outside to see if they could catch a glimpse of Santa. Then surprise! There were stacks of presents under the tree. Everyone got something, whether they were expected or not. Even people who arrived unexpectedly got something.
All Christmas tradition came to a screaming halt 7 years ago. The day after Christmas 8 years ago my mom died suddenly. How many 90 year old women can you say that about? A week before the next Christmas my sister-in-laws father died suddenly at 92. You had to know these people to understand how marvelous and youthful they were to the day they died.
Figuring I was now the matriarch of the family, I invited everyone to my house for Christmas Eve. Not many came. It was not the same. Now every year is different. That first Christmas, my son and his new wife moved here from Southern California; their kittens saved Christmas. Bear and Zypha came and snuggled up to everyone. Can you be sad with kittens waltzing around playing with strings and wrapping paper? I don't really care for cats, but these kittens were comic entertainment.
Since then something has come through and saved Christmas every year. Last year, a one year old grandson saved Christmas. This year, I anguished over what to have and who to invite. My grandchildren would be in Texas. I hate to plan, but I am not foolish. I love flexibility and only a plan can give you flexibility. Once you have an outline there is freedom to change the details, but the plan must be in place, or everything will look like you didn't have a plan.
Plan? What Plan ?
The perfect son is the most helpful. His input to my planning is usually, "Don't do anything too complicated, make sure you have a plan, tell me when to be there and who will be there". This year seems to be a stellar year for movies. Everyone in my family loves movies - except me, so when I agree to go to a movie it is a big deal.
The last movie I saw in the theater was Silver Linings Playbook in February. I went because my father-in-law had died and did I mention everyone loves movies, but me. Not many movies grab my attention, but when they do I will venture into the theater.
Christmas Eve was very successful, a few family members came for dinner and we attended a lovely candlelight service which ended at midnight with everyone holding a lighted candle, standing on the lawn, staring at the starry midnight sky, singing Silent Night. Orion stood out so brightly. The heavens were a lovely sight.
The plan for Christmas this year was for my husband and I to take the two youngest to the movies. I had heard wonderful things about Frozen, but I thought "Need a 10 year old to see that with". Can you ever go wrong with the Hobbit? I wanted to see Saving Mr. Banks, but figured there was no way my sons would go for something that slow. The Hobbit! Well apparently I was wrong. The boys hadn't seen the first part. They both read the books, but... Not Frozen. I was almost willing to watch Anchorman 2 if it would get us all together. After texting the boys one said, "Mom, as much as I want to see that movie, I don't think I want you with me", The other said, "You need to have seen the first movie". Poor Dad,he was so excited. He loves movies. When it looked like we would go for a hike instead of see a movie he was discouraged.
Our youngest son came in after visiting the neighbors, "Lets go see Saving Mr. Banks. I am down for it". My husband had us out of the house so fast you wouldn't believe it.
We got to the theater 30 minutes before the movie. My husband said,"I will drop you off, you can buy tickets and I will go park."
I said," I walked out of the house without my wallet"
He said," Well you drop me off and go park".
The kid in the back seat, "I don't have my wallet either and I smell like beer, I am not driving!". (He got a breathalyzer for Christmas and wanted to see if it worked).
We ended up all having a trading seats in the car (what was called a "Chinese fire drill" in my non-PC youth) at a red light in front of the theater. I got into the drivers seat. The kid didn't want to stay in the back seat. It really was silly fun.
The kid said, "I never did that (with my parents?) before".
The kid, "Mom, I usually won't give up the drivers seat when one of them is happening". Some things a mother just doesn't want to know.
We parked, and as we were crossing the street my husband announces, "This showing of the movie is sold out".
The kid, 6'2" grabs dad by the shoulders, turns him around and says," Let's buy tickets for the next showing, then go to uncle's house, we have an excuse to leave if things get sticky".
We had a pleasant visit with my brother and aunt. Then a couple of his kids and grandchildren came in, and dinner was ready. We hadn't planned to be there for dinner, but it was tasty. We left for the show in time to check in on the dogs and get to the theater in plenty of time. It was very full, but not sold out.
My brother and sister-in-law loved Saving Mr.Banks. My sister-in-law's advice was to pay careful attention. I thought, "Is it so slow you have to go to the bathroom out of boredom, or what?". It turns out to be good advice. Not because it it slow, but the flashbacks will be confusing you if you don't pay attention. It is the mind game part of the movie that draws you in.
P.L. Travers was exceedingly particular when it came to making the movie about her book. It apparently took Walt Disney 20 years to convince her to let him make a movie based on her book. I loved her books when I was in the 5th grade. Mary Poppins, and Mary Poppins in the Park were my favorites. Now that I have done some research on her I don't think I would have like her very much.
Saving Mr. Banks was the perfect movie for saving Christmas for my family. This movie about Walt Disney acquiring the rights to P.L. Travers book, to make Mary Poppins into a movie was the perfect combination of drama, frustration, surprise and laughter. There are glimpses of Disneyland in the early 60's.
The 21 year old declared it "A movie I was glad to see",
I concur. I was glad Walt saved Mr, Banks, who saved my Christmas. I don't have to think about Christmas for another year and that is good too.
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