I am very lucky to have the Kelley side of my family. My mom had a tough childhood and we had very little contact with her side of the family while growing up. My dad’s side more than made up for the lack. My grandma had five kids and we had plenty of cousins near our age to play with during holidays, and Christmas was always a blast with them. They’re the craziest, most supportive group of people you could meet and they’re always good for a lot of laughs. Their antics are evident in our home movies.
One of my proudest moments was the year I made a Christmas video compilation for my family using the home movies my grandparents had been taking since the late 80s. I spent hours syncing the sound to the video, choosing Christmas songs that meant something to us, and finding pictures to go with the video. Although I revised it and extended it a year later, the initial exhibition meant a lot to me. It encompassed my love and nostalgia for the Christmases of my childhood and the people who made them great.
My aunt Sherry sent me an email thanking me for making it and told me it was one of her favorite Christmas gifts she had ever received. It has become a tradition to watch the extended version each year at our Christmas Eve celebration, sometimes more than once. I am so happy that this video that I worked on for so long means as much to my family as it does to me. I still get a kick out of seeing it and all the great times we've had over the years.
And to this day, I can’t hear Blue Christmas without seeing my uncle Kajun dancing with my great grandma, or the opening to Jingle Bell Rock without thinking of how meticulously I had to time the snowflakes popping up on screen to keep time with the music. And yes, Sabrina and Megan, I did put your picture on the screen when Judy sings, "Make the yuletide gay," on purpose. You're welcome.
RADIO: Cinnamon Bear “The North Pole”, Jump Jump and the Ice Queen “Back Home Again”, Jonathan Thomas and his Christmas on the Moon “Going Home”
MOVIE: I remember seeing Home Alone for the first time. It must have been freshly released on VHS so I couldn’t have been more than four years old. My grandma came over and brought it as a gift, maybe a birthday present for my dad. We opened it, popped it into the VCR, and watched the whole thing, and I loved it. I always wanted to be an adult; screw the kid stuff. It made me feel very much like one of them to be watching a movie they seemed to enjoy as much as I did. When my sister was old enough to understand what was going on, she got in on it too, and many days we’d fast forward to the end where Kevin plays all of the tricks on the robbers and just watch that. We also loved the scene where the family rushes to the airport; we’d bounce around on the couches like idiots and have the best time ever.
When Home Alone 2 came out, I wanted a Talkboy so bad, but it was marketed to boys. Luckily the company soon came out with a pink Talkgirl. Unluckily for me, I didn’t get one. After all, I already had a tape recorder; what did I need with another one? The movie pales in comparison to the original, because it is basically a gratuitous reworking of the first movie only in New York, and Kevin’s adversaries are even more bumbling idiots that in the first one. I do get excited though to see Eddie Bracken as the toy store owner. Joel and I have a game related to this movie, trying to top the other with the best sequel title by adding “Lost in New York.” He always wins; my favorites are Titanic 2: Lost in New York and the more adult Debbie Does Dallas 2: Lost in New York.
SONG: “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” by Judy Garland
By the way, I met Margaret O'Brien this year. Jealous?
GIFT MEMORY: Perhaps the first Christmas gift I ever got was my Lazzie Bear, which my grandma gave my pregnant mother five months before I was born. For the first few years of my life, it was larger than I was. Later I got the Lazzie Dog to go with my bear, and even later I got another Lazzie Bear in pristine condition. These critters are from Lazarus, a now defunct Columbus-based department store that was the height of luxury for many years. I wish I could have seen their downtown Christmas display during their heyday; I hear it was really something to see.