Pharr Away

Photo Credit: Flickr, mylitocupcake

Photo Credit: Flickr, mylitocupcake

By Sara Cabrera

I eat menudo and barbacoa
with a fresh warm packet
of Guerrero tortillas
on Sunday mornings after mass.
After, I drive at 3 mph down the
bumpy Raul Longoria Road
to go to La Pulga de Alamo
and to beat
the Rio Grande Valley heat.
There I buy verduras y frutas frescas
and of course some Mexican candy.

I explored my granny’s backyard,
which reached the chin of Africa
to the most northern part of Canada.
My brother and I
were evil scientists and made our secret lair
in the luscious shrubs farthest from mom and dad;
making poisonous potions from water de la mangera
and crushed exotic flowers that danced in the yard
with names too fancy to remember at seven.

I chased lizards
up and down the old mesquite tree,
that met its final battle in ’08
against hurricane Dolly.
The tree used to serve as a clubhouse,
now Dad just uses it to make BBQ.

I celebrate Christmas
on December 24th, not the 25th.
Celebrations with tamales, pozole,
buñuelos, and who can forget the
posadas. I have two birthdays,
the day I was born, y el día de mi santo.

Valentine’s Day: Friends Forever

The typical way to celebrate ‘V-Day’ is getting together with that one boy and watching a classic “chick flick” like The Notebook or The Vow, and buying an expensive dinner for the two of you that you secretly know you don’t like. What about when you don’t have a special boy and just want to celebrate with your friends? Or when you just really don’t want to go through another typical date and eat food you don’t like?

“This year my best friend and I don’t have boyfriends or a special someone and we’re pretty bummed out because everywhere we go there are cute couples all over the place making us feel bad,” said Sammy, 15.

The wild pink and red environment of people running around buying presents was making them feel blue and they decided to get together and throw something completely different for the occasion making everyone’s day a better one.

“We decided we weren’t going to let it ruin our day so we decided we are going to have a party with single friends; kind of like an Anti-Valentine’s thing. I’m just trying to make it a good day for my friends, no more crying over dumb reasons,” said Sammy.

There is nothing like hanging out with your girls sharing laughs and having fun, even when you already have that special someone.

“I have a boyfriend and he wanted to do something special, but I told him no because I wanted to do something with my friends,” said Carla, 17.

“I wanted to have a movie night, perhaps a sleepover, eat a lot of junk food, maybe do some pranks, and just have fun because I love my friends and I know that hanging out with my boyfriend isn’t going to be as fun as being with my girls,” she adds.

For Danielle, 20, she celebrates Valentines Day differently.

“I go to school in Lubbock, my boyfriend goes to school in Austin and other friends or family members are back home in El Paso, I have no one to celebrate Valentine’s day with,” said Danielle.

She adds she has made friends since moving out, but prefers to staining in with her roommate.

“I just don’t feel like going out, I’m just going to stay in with my roommate buy some food and off course, lots and lots of chocolate! This day makes me feel so sad and makes me miss everyone back home, but I don’t mind spending it with my roommate because we’re both girls, we can have fun and share stories together,” said Danielle.

Even though she is miles away from her loved ones she found a way to spend this red day with someone that will give her some company and share this day with even if it isn’t her special someone.

Whether you are celebrating with your significant other or friends, did you know that an average of 15% of the U.S women buy themselves flowers? A little self-love in the form of flowers is nothing to be ashamed about. We deserve something special now and then, and when we have no one to buy us any why not buy them ourselves?

BFF: Dominique & Bethany

BFF: Dominique & Bethany

Spending Valentine’s Day can be a nightmare for some people, but even though they know they don’t have a special someone to share it with there is always going to be your friends you can count on to cheer you up and be with you through the tough times. Go out with your friends, plan a movie night, eat junk food, stay in and share stories, have a party! Good friends will always be there, and if they spend this day with you, you know they’re keepers, you’ll be friends forever.

Parents in the Military

Photo credit: theeap.com

Photo credit: theeap.com

More and more children are missing out on the get togethers with loved ones due to the increasing amount of individuals leaving to the military.

Angie Vasquez, 5, sits alone during the lunch hour due to her definition of feeling “left out.”

She says, “I feel like so many other girls have so much. They have their toys, but most of all they have their dads and moms with them. I have my pictures of them, but I don’t think they can feel me wrap my arms around them when I go to bed.”

According to a survey done by Blue Star Families, 67% of parents leaving oversees and leaving their children behind sought to search for mental health rehabilitation due to anxiety from being away from their children.

Vasquez says, “I like that my mom and dad are taking care of America, now America doesn’t have to worry about bombs or guns, but sometimes I want them [parents] to come home.”

Like her, there is a 68% increase of indepence in the child, but is it adaptability or a sense that they too have to become young adults earlier in life?

Tomasa Flores, Angie’s caretaker for the next year or so, says, “I have nothing bad to say about the military. My son Jose was in the Mexican army, but I do say that it is different for someone as young as Angie. She is a baby. I reminder her daily that I love her. If I don’t, who will?”

At this moment, Angie Vasquez interrupts and says, “My mom and dad love me! They call each night before I go to bed and wish the bugs don’t come in and bite. I love you too, Toma!”

Flores hugs her close and repeats the words to young Vasquez and says, “I do not think I could of gone to great lengths to try to save the US and my child’s future all by herself.”

Angie says, ” When my mom and dad come home I’ll be this much old,” while sticking her right hand flat and one finger up on the left hand.

Dosomething.org claims “more than 900,000 children experienced the deployment of one or both parents multiple times.”

Cards, letters and gift packages once dominated the mail waves soon after 9/11, but increased mail restrictions make it all the harder to do so. For a family member overseas, communication helps bring them closer. Talking to them everyday or as consistently as possible helps in coping with their deployment.

Vasquez is proof that staying optimistic is the only way she will stay confident. She said, “Even if I can’t send my mom or dad a real hug. I sent a photo of me, when both my top teeth were out. I asked Santa to give me my teeth for Christmas and I’ll be waiting.”

She smiles and it becomes evident that her upper teeth are coming in by a fraction of an inch.

If your loved one is oversees, send them a care package to bring a smile to their life the same way they make you smile when you have a chance to speak with them.

DIY Valentine’s Day Gifts

Candy-Hearts-for-Valentines-DayThat time of the year is coming again, the time where you walk in to the stores and you see pink, red, and white all over the place, stuffed animals of all sizes and chocolates, but everything is the same; it’s time to create something special and unique!

The Scavenger Hunt:

You’ll need balloons, paper and markers, sticky notes, and helium. Write tiny clues in a piece of paper, fold it in very small and put it inside the balloon before you fill it up with helium, you can write anything that lead to the big prize, for example “It’s in something you use daily.” Then, place these clues in different locations you know that person is on a daily basis so that they get surprised when they see it. Once you fill up the balloon with helium write on the balloon with a marker “Pop for clue” and they would have to pop the balloon to see your clue. It’s a fun, playful gift! Once they get all of the balloons popped (you can make as many as you want), lead them to where the big prize is, for example: you can fill their car or bedroom with sticky notes with memories and inside jokes of you guys, make it colorful, make it original, make it unique!

If you want to go with a simple, but cheesy gift, go with this one:

The Candy vase:

All you need is a small glass vase of any size, a sharpie marker, m&m’s and skittles. It’s a candy fun activity! Pour half of the chocolates into the jar, open the skittles and only put one. Then, pour the rest of the chocolates into the jar and you can enjoy eating  the rest of the left-over skittles! Once you’re done pouring the candy, write “You’re one in a million” on the vase. If the person likes skittles more than chocolate, you can do the same but vice versa!

The Scratch off:

All you need is a nice piece of paper, white Crayola crayon, paint (any kind), a pen, and a quarter. First, you fold the paper in half so you can make two “scratch-offs,” write “scratch to reveal,” draw three hearts, and write what you would like to give them inside of the hearts.  For example, you can write “pay for the movies,” “make you dinner,” a hug, etc. Be creative! Once you write on all of them, color the heart with the white crayon.

Tip: You will need color it in over and over.

After you finish coloring it in, you paint the hearts and let it dry. Finally, when you give it to them you can tell them only to scratch only one or, if you’re feeling generous, have them scratch off all of them. You can make your own rules for the scratch-off game.  Next, give them the quarter to use to scratch off the pain, and voila!

Similar to the cheesy, but cute, vase gift is the “Open When….” Envelopes

“Open When….”  Envelopes:

This is a smart and sweet idea to make someone’s day. To make it work you will need to get as many envelopes as possible. On each envelope put “Open when…”  to indicate when the person should open the envelope. For example “Open when you feel sad,” or “Open when you want to laugh” and inside you put something that will cheer them up or make them laugh, pictures of you guys, funny/inside jokes, anything that will make them not feel sad anymore or laugh like crazy. The point to these envelopes is to make the connection with the person stronger, whether it is a friend, family, or your special someone. When you’re done making the envelopes, put them in a pretty hardcover box and label it “Open when…” You can make an envelope out of any occasion or situation. Have fun with the envelopes; make the other person feel loved on this special day!

DIY gifts are cute and fun ways to show off your creativity. Most importantly have fun doing these gifts; picture their face when you give them your home-made present. It’s going to be even more important and valuable because you didn’t buy it at a store and no one else has the exact same thing, it’s unique.

Mi Barrio: Houston, TX

Written by: April
Age: 24
City: Houston, TX US

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Photo credit: Houstonsvoice.com

What do you like to do for fun there?
I love Houston, TX. It is not only a big city, but there is always that opportunity to grow. There are many opportunities to grow academically. Even if you begin small you’ll soon realize many Latina girls are striving to create someone better for themselves. I see many young women starting at Houston Community College, which is a beginning, a start to a future as a teacher, a license practitioner, or even to become a better person. I’ve met so many women who started school because they weren’t sure what they were going to do with their lives. This feeling of uncertainty changes the first semester when they complete one class. They have a renowned sense of confidence and killer able -bodied attitude that shines.

What makes your hometown special?
Houston is special because it is home. It is where my family resides. It is where I can count on my girls to spend a day sans social media and hang out. We go and relax at the Houston Zoo (on not so hot days) and take a picnic out to any local park. My girls and I walk to the local “panaderia” for some hot and sweet bread!

What is the weather like?
Houston is humid and hot, but I love it.

What type of hometown do you live in?
I live in an urban neighborhood.

Why do you like it?
In Houston, there is something to do everyday.

What can visitors do in your hometown?
If you’ve never ridden on a train, the metrorail is a fun experience. Even better, you can sit on the metro rail backwards!

What special landmarks or attractions do you find in your community?
I love the museums!

What is the history behind your hometown?
Houston used to be considered the fourth fattest city, but our city became fitness buffs. In doing so, we managed to put that title away.

Describe cultural events in your community.
Free Press Houston Fest is getting its name out there. Each year it gets bigger and better. FPH gets bigger artists to be featured, which in turn causes people from outside of Texas to come and visit.

Career Spotlight: Reporter

Name: Denise Olivasdenise-olivas-image-jpg

Position & Title: Reporter/Anchor

Employer: KVIA

Location: El Paso, TX

What are some of your job responsibilities?
I am a reporter for Good Morning El Paso and co-anchor for ABC-7 at Noon. Some of my responsibilities include gathering stories, conducting interviews, and writing and editing stories for newscasts.

Describe your educational background and how it helped you prepare for your career.
I graduated from Riverside High School in 2004. Immediately following I continued my education at the University of Texas at El Paso. I graduated in 2009 with a degree in Communication – Electronic Media. The classes I took in college taught me how important writing is in a journalism career. It is a very different style of writing that takes a lot of practice.

How did you find your current job?
I started at KVIA in 2009 as an intern. Several weeks after my internship ended, I was called back and offered a job opening as a producer/writer.

What did you do to prepare for a career in the media?
I made sure to finish my college education. My internship at KVIA also gave me a front row experience of television news and all the work it takes to put a newscast together.

What is your favorite part of your job?
I really enjoy meeting the people of El Paso and the stories they have to share. I like telling their stories and appreciate that they allow me to do so. I also enjoy covering breaking news.

What is the most challenging part of your job?
Breaking news and deadlines are the most challenging. It always keeps me on my toes. As a reporter, I always have to be ready in the event something major happens.

What advice would you give to help a girl prepare for a job like yours?
Education is key!

What do you do for fun when you are not working?
I really enjoy working out when I’m not at work. It really helps relieve stress and keeps me strong and healthy.

Review: JLo ft. Flo Rida – Goin’ In

Here’s what one Latinita had to say about JLo’s and Flo Rida’s music video.

jennifer-lopez-goin-in_thelavalizard

Name:Angelisse (Lissy)
Your Age:
13
Your City & State
El Paso, Texas
What artist, band or album are you reviewing?
Jennifer Lopez and Flo Rida- Goin In Music Video
How would you rate it?
3 stars: Average
What do you dislike about it?
I believe J-Lo’s dancing could of been a little better. The choreographers should have been paying attention to how Lopez could keep up with the background dancers, how she should be dancing in each costume, and simply just making sure the choreography was dazzling instead of focusing on how much they show her butt.Somewhere in the music video a car starts bouncing up and down randomly. I didn’t get it. It just didn’t play in to the music video for me.
How does listening to this music make you feel?
The song is great! It makes me feel like I want to get up and dance!I love in the music video her glitter lips and the use of neon and vibrant colors. Puerto Rican pride! That was definitely shown here by Jennifer and Flo Rida.
 Who are your favorite musicians?
Panic! At The DiscoRhiannaKaty PerryAvril LavigneP!nkSkrillex

David Guetta

Nicki Minaj

Demi Lovato

 

Winter Wear

The winter season is the best time for getting together, but you want to stay comfortable chic in the process. Scarves, socks, and beanies, if you don’t have them now’s the time to start. Cute accessories are the best way to stay warm and you can finally bust out with those cute boots; unless you live in Texas, that’s all year round. This year’s staple is of course, the always changing and always fashionable winter coat.

 FAUX SHOW!

The winter season calls for many festive events along with many family and friend get-togethers, where you always want to dress conservatively but still cute. That’s where the faux comes in, faux fur and leather.

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Courtesy of Polyvore

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Courtesy of Polyvore.com

Coats lined with fur on the collar and sometimes the sleeves are darling, a full fur coat  or vest is also a classic staple. There’s nothing wrong if you’re into the real stuff, real leather and fur can be very nice this time of year. Full fur coats are also a staple and add an extra heat insulator. Leather isn’t only for rock stars anymore, it’s a versatile material that can give you that classic edgy look that only you can pull off.

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Courtesy of Polyvore.com

Another important staple for the cold weather is the boot. Everyone knows that the key to a warm body is a cute boot. Whether it be knee highs, or booties, boots are stomping on the streets, and they’re getting creative. Boots work well in any setting, a day out on the town, walking around school, and family get-togethers. They’re a stylish casual wear that is acceptable everywhere.

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Courtesy of Polyvore.com

TRENDY

One trend that has been catching on this past year is the skater skirt and the color or print pant. The skater skirt can also be in the form of a dress but is extremely flattering on the waistline. It’s perfect with a tight fit top or cozy sweater, and you can wear it to a holiday dinner or a night on the town!

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Courtesy of Polyvore.com

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Courtesy of Karmaloop

 

The print and color bottoms give your outfit that fun, creative accent to any perfect basic. Especially if they’re high wasted or a fun fabric, like velvet or corduroy. Pair these bottoms with a sheer button up, lace blouse, or a fun T-shirt coupled with a sports jacket for a little maturity. Add your favorite pair of heels or flats and you’re ready for a fun day at school or the movies with your friends.

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Courtesy of Polyvore.com

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Courtesy of Polyvore.com

 

WINTER WHITE

You can’t survive winter without a coat, and this year the lighter colors are in. Winter white, soft cream, light gray, and powder blue all compliment any occasion, creating a soft and fun winter warmth.

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Courtesy of Refinery29

 

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Courtesy of Polyvore.com

 

 

If you’re like most people and have a hard time keeping white clothes clean, simple black coats with a longer lapel (collar) and limited buttons work fabulously. You could also wear the simple black petti coat, a timeless winter classic. Below are a few outfit ideas to fit into your everyday life.

Last Minute DIY Gifts

Looking for a last minute gift? Avoid the crowded malls and give a loved one something extra special this holiday season. Here are some easy and quick DIY gifts you can give a loved one this holiday season.

Photo Credit: Silver Gardens Boutique

Photo Credit: Silver Gardens Boutique

Toss the boring gift card packaging away and make your own gift card holder. 

Materials:

-       Scissors

-       Duct tape

-       Ruler

-       Old or new gift card

Step 1:

Gather materials and cut four strips (7 inches long) of duct tape. Lay them down so the sticky part is facing up.

Step 2:

This part can be a little tricky. Select one duct tape strip and gently parallel the strips with one another by overlapping the first piece onto a second strip (about 1/8 of an inch). The sticky parts for both pieces are still facing you.

Step 3:

Repeat Step 2 for the remaining two duct tape strips. You should have two separate larger pieces, like duct tape fabric, instead of four.

Step 4:

Gently place one piece (sticky side) over the second piece (sticky side). After connecting the sticky sides together, cut off any excess tape from the corners. Voila! You’re almost done!

Step 5:

This part is like wrapping a present. Grab an old gift card, or a new one, and place the card onto the duct tape. Fold the bottom and top part at desired length – as if you were creating a sleeve for the gift card. Trim any excess tape.

Step 6:

Cut a new duct tape strip (4 inches), and cut 1inch strips from it. The strips will add the final touch. After you are done cutting the trips, tape each side of the gift card holder, and you’re done! You can add a bow to it for an extra touch, or use different colored duct tape to make it more snazzy.

Photo Credit: Elaine Craig

Photo Credit: Elaine Craig

Make Your Own Photo Snowglobe:

  • Photo
  • Packaging tape
  • Empty jar
  • (optional) Figurines (avoid metal figurines)
  • Glitter
  • Distilled water
  • Glycerin

Step 1:

Gather materials and select a treasured photo of a memory between you and your loved one. Next, prep the photo and jar.

Step 2: Remove any label residue from the jar.

Step 3:

Depending on the size of the jar, Elaine Craig, crafter at Wonder How To, states “You’ll want to print it in a size that is half an inch smaller than your bottle or jar’s width/diameter and height.” Waterproof the photo by laminating the front and back with packaging tape.

Step 4:

Roll up the photo, insert in jar, and adjust the position. Make sure that when you are inserting the photo you are aware of how you will display the snow globe. For example, if you are displaying the snow globe with the lid at the bottom then you will need to insert the photo upside down.

Step 5:

Fill up jar with water almost to the top, add a spoonful of glycerin, glitter, sequins, beads, and/or figurines or ornaments.

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Photo Credit: creativejewishmom.com

Wrapped Vase

This super easy craft will make your mamá, abuelita, or tía smile. Who says flowers are only for mother’s day? Adding flowers will make this super cute vase even more special.

Materials:
- Yarn
- Empty glass bottle (wine bottle, mason jar, etc.)
- Hot glue gun and glue sticks

Here is one of my favorite easy craft projects! All you need is a little hot glue, an empty glass bottle, and some yarn. Starting at the bottom, wrap the yarn around the bottle, securing every few inches or so with a dab of glue. Once you have reached the top, you’re done! You can use buttons, jewels, or felt flowers to embellish your vase if you like.

Step 1:

Gather materials and remove label residue from the jar.

Step 2:

Wrap yarn around the bottle. The process will work best/go smoother if you start from the bottom. As you are wrapping yarn, place a drop of glue every few inches to secure the yarn. Be careful! You only need a small drop to hold it in place.

Step 3:

Don’t be afraid to be creative! Spice it up with different colored yarn or adding a few jewels or sequins to add a little oomph to the design. Adding flowers will make the special woman in your life smile.

Tip: If you want to use a plastic bottle instead of a glass bottle, follow the same steps but instead of hot glue use super glue.

 

Photo Credit: Alicia Rascon

Photo Credit: Alicia Rascon

Frame for Dad

Give your papá something to display on his desk at work  or in his office.

-       Two sheets of Cardstock

-       Photos of your papá

-       Frame

-       Scissors

-       Glue stick

Step 1:

Gather materials and cut out the word “DAD” in the cardstock. Set the cardstock with the word “DAD” aside.

Step 2:

Select and print out photos of him, your family, or both of you! Using 2-3 photos per letter will work best, because you can place them side by side or on top of one another.

Step 3:

You can either trim the parts where the photo is not visible through the letter before gluing them to the second sheet of cardstock, or only glue them onto the cardstock. You will need to make sure the photos are visible through each letter.

Step 4:

Let the glue dry, place the cardstock with the word “DAD” cut out on top of the pictures, and insert/adjust when placing into the frame.

Tip: If you are feeling adventurous, you can print several pictures and cut them out to fit in each letter, like a collage.

Photo Credit: Alicia Rascon

Photo Credit: Alicia Rascon

Artsy Gift for Grandma

Give your abuelita your own version of a family tree. This gift is twice as valuable if it is made with her other grandchildren.

Materials:

-       Paint

-       Paint brush (optional)

-       Paper

-       Frame

Step 1:

Gather materials and prep the area. You will need to wash your hands before you move on to the next color.

Step 2:

You can either use a paint brush or your finger to paint the trunk of the tree and branches.

Step 3:

After you are done creating the trunk and branches, use your handprint to create the leaves of the tree.

Step 4:

Wait until it is dry, write a holiday message, and insert into the frame. Pretty simple, right?

Top 5 Christmas Movies

Christmas is approaching and what better way to set the move than to snuggle up with a Christmas classic. Here are five Christmas classics that are guaranteed to make this holiday season just a bit warmer.  So huddle up with the relatives and pass the time with five of the best Christmas movies ever made!

elf-movie-posterElf (2003)

Rating: A+

“I just like to smile,” Buddy responds when asked why he always appears so happy. “Smiling’s my favorite.”

If you arrived in your town after 30 years at the North Pole, what do you think might surprise and delight you the way that simple things like dogs, escalators, and revolving doors amazed Buddy?

Elf,  directed by Jon Favreau, tells the sugary story of Buddy,  a highly energetic and naïve man, who thinks he’s an elf. After a lifetime of enjoying a joyful existence cobbling toys at the North Pole , Buddy is shocked to learn that he’s not an elf, rather a 30-year-old grown man with a  real human father in New York City who doesn’t know he exists. So, knowing only what he’s learned from the elves, but determined to find his father, Walter (Kames Caan),  Buddy sets off to New York.

Will Ferrell is perfect for Buddy’s character.  He flawlessly depicts a genuine affection for this Buddy’s character.  Moreover, as a former “Saturday Night Live” star, he clearly has no qualms about making a fool of himself.The best thing about his performance is his lanky cluelessness that has an enduring sweetness that makes you want to protect him from all the rude New Yorkers that make fun of him.

At first, Walter thinks Buddy is nuts when he shows up at his publishing office  claiming to be his son dressed up in elf suit, but after Buddy passes a DNA test, Walter has to accept him and takes him home to meet his family.

A memorable scene from Elf is when Buddy mistakes a short man for a dwarf at his dad’s office. Obviously, the man gets offended and “dares” Buddy to call him a dwarf once more. Buddy, unaware of the sarcastic tone in his voice, instead ingenuously obeys the man’s wishes and keeps calling him a dwarf.

Elf feels a little too cheesy at the end, but what do you expect? It’s a Christmas movie! Without a doubt, it is a must-watch for the whole family.

A Christmas StoryA Christmas Story (1983)

Rating: A

“You’ll shoot your eye out.”

Nine-year-old Ralphie (Peter Billingsley) was tired of hearing that line. All he wanted for Christmas was a Red Ryder BB gun.  While using various schemes to convince his parents to get him this gift, he continually bumps into objections from others, all adults, saying:

“You’ll shoot your eye out.”

Directed by Bob Clark,  A Christmas Story has a quality that no other holiday film can boast:  the perfect amount of nostalgia. That quality has made it one of the season’s most beloved motion pictures.

When Ralphie asks his mother (Melinda Dillon) for a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas, she refuses. Next, Ralphie writes an essay about wanting the BB gun for Miss Shields, his teacher at Warren G. Harding Elementary School. However, to his misfortune,  Ralphie gets a C+ and Miss Shields warns him of shooting his eye out. Later, Ralphie asks a local department store’s Santa Claus for a Red Ryder BB gun, and Santa tells him the same thing  every adult has been telling him.

This appealing film is based partly on short stories from In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash, a collection of short story memoirs and semi-fictional anecdotes by humorist  Jean Shepherd. Apart of the authenticity of the period details, the film manages to capture timeless details of childhood.  Shepherd’s writing is very particular: he knows exactly how to use a phrase to evoke a memory.  Moreover, regardless of one’s age or religion, there are so many moments in the film that are universal and relatable.

A memorable scene of the film occurs towards the end, when the family’s Christmas dinner is exactly the opposite of what they had planned. Nevertheless, instead of being disappointed or bitter, they embrace the change of plans as a delightful and funny adventure to enjoy remembering in future Christmases. Their reaction should be seen as a positive lesson to all families.

MV5BMTM2NzgzNTk2Nl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMjUxNjUyMQ@@._V1_SX640_SY720_How The Grinch Stole Christmas! (2000)

Rating B+ 

High atop Mount. Crumpet, the Grinch ( Jim Carrey) bitterly observes the residents of Whoville preparing to celebrate Christmas. The Grinch was born in Whoville years ago, but he was rejected since childhood due to his scary appearance. Ever since then,  he has learned to hate Christmas.  

Full of such enchantment and holiday spirit, the Grinch is among one of the best Christmas movies due to its heartwarming message of acceptance. Based on the Christmas classic by Dr.Seuss, this is the story of a Christmas-hating Grinch who tries to steal the holiday from the Whos by taking all of their presents and decorations. Moreover, it becomes the personal goal of Cindy Lou Who to try to change the Grinch’s heart, and show him the true meaning of Christmas. However, eventually, the town of Whoeville and he come to realize that he never broke their Christmas spirit.

Without a doubt, Jim Carrey masters the role of the green, mean, and  furry creature. He plays the Grinch as an overgrown kid who never got his candy and is now going to make the world pay for it. Not only that, he add his own twist to the classic character—Carrey’s Grinch is too animated and goofy compared to the classic animated character of the TV show. Still, he makes us sympathize with the Grinch’s dilemma.

Apart from Carrey’s stellar performance, the production design is also quite spectacular  in the film.  Whoville is a magical and colorful place that reflects the spirit of Christmas.  As imagined by production designer Michael Corenblith, is the most magical setting since Dorothy landed in Munchkinland.  For instance, ingenious shapes (candy canes, hairstyles); bright colors (houses); and stylish structures (archways, bridges, stairs and spirals); are all elements of the production design that embellish the ostentation of Whoville.

Interestingly enough, Whoville is meant to be a distortion of a society wrapped up in consumerism and materialism.  It is a town that symbolizes such a level of superficiality that only a child, Cindy Lou, can see through it. She pities the Grinch, and wants him to be a part of the community. By bringing these ideas to light, in a way, the Seussian universe of Whoville serves as a criticism to our own world –people often cast out others because of  they often look, talk, act or think differently. Human’s most basic flaw is that we are always judging others before putting ourselves in their shoes.

MV5BMTMzMzY5NDc4M15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMzc4NjIxNw@@._V1_SX214_It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

Rating: A

What would the world be like if you had never been born?

Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life is about a man who wishes he were never born,  when an angel tries to change his mind  by showing him the tremendous impact he has had on his community.

As the film opens, it’s Christmas Eve, 1946, and George Bailey (Jimmy Steward), who has long considered himself a failure due to financial ruin, is seriously contemplating suicide. High above Bedford Falls, two celestial voices discuss Bailey’s dilemma and decide to send down angel Clarence Oddbody to help George out. Clarence grants George one wish: to see what the world would be like if he had never been born. As he and George travel through the nightmarish alternate reality, they observe how much worse off many people would be.

What is it about this film, an uplifting story about the importance of the individual, that so many viewers love? It’s a Wonderful Life touches upon one simple message of life  that everyone would like to believe—no matter how insignificant or ordinary we may seem,  every single one of us is important. We all have the power to make a difference in the world, it’s just a matter of attitude and perspective.

However, the film is not all rainbows and sunshine. Sure, there’s no doubt that It’s a Wonderful Life is a “feel good” movie. But let’s not forget that Capra effectively captures the darkness of George’s mood as his mounting personal and financial troubles plunge him into an abyss of despair.

Again, just like A Christmas Story, despite being made during the ’40s, It’s a Wonderful Life offers a timeless story with a universal message. Furthermore,  Stewart gives the performance of a lifetime. Bitter or sweet, he’s the movie’s hero. And if the movie is about broken dreams, it’s conclusion is that these broken dreams can sometimes be a good thing. Overall,whether or not you have your own guardian angel hovering, the lesson here is that it’s not money that makes you rich. Watching It’s a Wonderful Life is truly an enriching experience.

UnknownHome Alone (1990)

Rating A+

“I made my family disappear,” said Kevin (Macaulay Culkin), after waking up all alone in the slightly creepy, too-quiet house to discover his ultimate wish has come true.

If you have yet to see Home Alone then you have been missing out on some hilarious comedy and most importantly, a significant message about family values.

A classic holiday film, Home Alone tells the story of Kevin, a cunningly clever 8-year-old boy who feels largely ignored by his large family.  While preparing for a Christmas vacation in Paris, Kevin gets in trouble, is banished to the attic overnight, and wishes his family would just disappear. Kevin gets his wish the next morning when his family accidentally leaves him behind.

The film was directed by Chris Columbus and written by John Hughes. Naturally, Hughes has a gift for remembering what it was like to be young. Overall, it is  Home Alone’s innocence and humor, combined with Culkin’s charming performance  that allows the film to remain the highest grossing Christmas movie of all time.  No matter how many times I watch this movie, I never grow tired of it.  It will undoubtedly always be a Christmas classic for the whole family!

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