Hallmark Does Hanukkah

This holiday season both Hallmark Channel and Lifetime have produced Hanukkah movies along with the usual staple of Christmas movies. Calling something a Hanukkah movie would imply it was about that holiday and its celebration. The three movies had different degrees of success in meeting that standard.

Only one of the Hallmark movies, Double Holiday, was about celebrating Hanukkah and it was the best of the three. Rebecca and Chris are coworkers who must produce a holiday party for their company. How well the party does will help determine which one of them gets a promotion. Because the eight days they have to prepare coincides with Hanukah, the two wind up celebrating together.

Rebecca celebrates with her family and Chris appreciates their warmth and sense of social obligation. The Hoffman’s only exchange gifts one night and the other nights are dedicated to charity and volunteering. Chris is open to learning about Hanukkah; in the course of the movie the blessing for lighting the candle is recited three time.

The movie stresses that people celebrate in different ways. This is at least a tacit acknowledgement that the fantasy Christmases of Hallmark movies is not for every one. Although Double Holiday did, to some extent, equate Hanukkah and Christmas, it was respectful of Jewish traditions. The plot did not involve Rebecca coming to love Christmas, rather Chris came to a better understanding of Hanukkah.

The other two movies, Lifetime’s Mistletoe and Menorahs and Hallmark’s, Holiday Date are both Christmas movies that include a Jewish person.  Holiday Date was the worst. It has a convoluted, unrealistic plot and verged on being condescending and patronizing about Hanukkah.

The best thing about watching these three movies was that I heard “Hanukkah Oh Hanukah” sung multiple times and heard the candlelight blessings several times as well. Double Holiday had the extra bonus that no Christmas music was played.

***********Happy Holidays! Merry Christmas!***********

***********Happy Hanukkah! Happy New Year!**********

 

Sisters

On Saturday, I went to see a Shakespeare and Company staged reading of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. Kate Hamill wrote the play.  The actors played the story mostly for laughs, presenting the material more broadly than Austen’s version.

One serious moment which was deeply affecting was when Marianne is seriously ill, and Elinor pleads with her to live. “Don’t leave me Marianne”  says Elinor. I felt tears come to my eyes in response to this wonderful portrayal of the deep connection between the two sisters. I have a sister; our relationship is very complicated, but I don’t want to lose her. However, Elinor’s speech comes from the playwright not Jane Austen.

Thinking about this scene led me to reflect on other sisters in literature and movies.  The original Frozen is definitely about sisters. Elsa and Anna are the “heroes” of the movie; their sisterly bond enables them to triumph.

Another movie which is about sisters and is appropriate for the season is White Christmas.  There is even a song, “Sisters” in the movie. It stars Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye. Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen play the sisters. When I was little this was one of my favorite movies.

It is more difficult to come up with books that feature two sisters with as deep a bond as Marianne and Elinor. Little Women is all about sisters but there are four. Throughout the book, at various times, the sisters have different connections to each other. The relationships are not static.

I want to find good examples of sisters in a few novels for my Jane Austen book club. Starting in February we are reading Northanger Abbey. The rest of the year we will read gothic novels. Thinking ahead, the following year I might do Sense and Sensibility so I would need works that fit with the book’s themes, especially sisters.

New Host – SiteGround

I did it. I switched my hosting company from BlueHost to SiteGround. It took a few days for everything to get into place but now it is done. SiteGround was helpful during the process; BlueHost was less so. As in past experiences, the best way to contact BlueHost and get results was via chat.

My goal in making the switch was for it to be seamless and invisible so no one would even know I had changed hosts.  That worked so I was very happy. As far as logging in to work on posts, I do that through WordPress. The login is the same.

For the first year, I got a special Black Friday rate so it is cheaper than BlueHost would have been. If I stay with SiteGround, next year it will be more expensive. However, I am stopping SiteLock because SiteGround persuaded me that  my site would be secure without it. Because SiteLock  was so expensive, I will be saving a lot by discontinuing it.

My main concern in choosing a new host was security. BlueHost was useless when my website got hacked. Hopefully I won’t get hacked again. If I do, I am hoping SiteGround will be helpful in fixing whatever problems occur.

Jane Austen’s Birthday

December 16th is Jane Austen’s birthday. She was born in 1775 so this is the 244th celebration of her birth. As you may know, I have been leading the Jane Austen’s Regency World book club at the Jones Library, Amherst, MA since last February.

Tomorrow is the last meeting for this fist year of the club. Since we are meeting in December, I am planning to bring refreshments for a celebration of Jane’s birthday. The menu is going to be ginger cakes and apple cider. The recipe for the cookies is from Jane Austen’s Card Games; 11 Classic Card Games and 3 Supper Menus from the Novels and Letters of Jane Austen by Jo Ann Staples.

For this meeting, we read Barbara Pym’s Excellent Women. Even if you haven’t read the book, all are welcome to attend.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JANE!