Monday, December 23, 2019

Working toward failure

Have you ever just sat down to write knowing that you had something to say but no matter what you did, none of it seemed to come out right?

So you typed, and deleted and typed and deleted and it was far from perfection.  The point is, you kept typing. 

What a gentle reminder that I too am not perfect! 

Everyday I set out to be the very best version of myself for my wife, my family, my dogs, my friends, my work and the world around me.  And everyday despite having a plan with the best intentions, invariably I stumble along the way.  Then I feel like a failure and that all the good from the day was wiped away and forgotten! 

But this feeling is all wrong as I know that the pursuit of perfection is a fools dream.  That is not what this is. 

What I am writing about is working hard to be a little bit better than the me of yesterday.  And I expect to fail, because that is how you learn.  I expect to fail today and then try again tomorrow.  My desire is to present the very best version of me everyday even if that is a work on progress. 

I just want to be a difference maker for the people in my life, with the promise that what you get tomorrow will be better than what you get today. I am so grateful that the people in my life are patient because the best is yet to come.

So as I set out to fail today, I am reminded that failing is not failure -- Failure is trying, but just not getting it right (yet) and you just need to keep typing. 

Friday, December 6, 2019

50 Christmas Movies in 50 Days

On November 6th, I watched a Christmas movie.

Ok, it was A Very Brady Christmas, which qualifies as a Christmas movie but not the shining star of this blog by any means.  When it was over, I watched another movie -- this time it was The Christmas Calendar.  The story of a  struggling baker in a small town who receives a handmade Christmas Calendar from a secret admirer and people from the town speculate who it may be.

I have always been a proponent of celebrating each holiday at the proper time.  After Halloween it is acceptable to celebrate Thanksgiving and the Christmas Tree can go up no earlier than Black Friday.  But with our recent move to Minneapolis, and the "holiday-like" crisp temperatures and a bite in the air beginning in early November, I broke my own rule.

So what happened?  I had been filled with so much hostility which had built up from a rough year at work that upon watching a Christmas movie, all all that anger immediately evaporated as soon as boy kissed girl in The Christmas Calendar.  I was filled with joy and hope and began to embody the Christmas Spirit that I just couldn't stop.  I put up the Christmas tree on November 9th and began to buy presents.

And yes, if you were wondering, I was drinking hot chocolate, wearing fuzzy pajama pants and was joined only by two unwilling participants, each with four legs and a tail.  But this is a judge-free zone.

One movie begot the next and the next and the next.  When I realized that I watched the first movie exactly 50 days before Christmas, I joked with my co-workers that I was going to watch 50 Christmas movies in 50 days.  When I made the the initial statement it was purely to generate some laughter.  But, just like being 5 years old and putting milk and cookies out for Santa and hearing reindeer on the rooftops, I started to BELIEVE!  I could really do this.

I devised a plan to watch 50 Christmas movies in 50 days, that would culminate with A Christmas Story on Christmas Day.  And the challenge was born!
Watching one movie a day with a demanding work schedule and a normal life would be utter chaos, so there are times when I binge watch 2 or 3 in a row on a late night flight home from work or on a weekend afternoon.  I don't have a plan for which movies I will watch next; that all depends on Netflix, Hulu and Prime video.  I have just one simple rule -- I can not watch MORE than 50 Christmas movies and I can not watch less than 50 Christmas movies.  It has to be exactly 50, in 50 days.

My main focus has been on the Hallmark Channel genre, not classics or movies that can be portrayed as Christmas movies like Bad Santa or Die Hard.  I want that feel good feeling of a Hallmark movie.  I want to see Candace Cameron Bure as an over worked business woman in the city who is engaged to marry a high powered attorney, but is forced to return to her small hometown where she discovers the true meaning of Christmas and falls in love with a local boy who wears flannel shirts, operates the local cafe and may or may not be widowed with a young daughter.  Or where Erin Karpluk is struggling to get over a break up, but leverages her big city contacts to help a single dad revitalize an old lodge in the mountains where her family spent Christmas as a child and desperately wants to see it renovated (with the help of her general contractor family) just in time for Christmas so her grandfather (with ailing health) can see the project complete and be present for the looming wedding proposal from the grandson of the people who originally built the lodge.

There have been several movies that I started, end up fast forwarding, or not finishing because the premise was so campy or just awful.  Movies like A Very Nutty Christmas where a Nutcracker soldier comes to life to help Melissa Joan Hart with her bakery were not the best cinema had to offer.  Needless to say, you won't find A Very Nutty Christmas on the list.  Only movies I watched beginning to end make the final list.

Do I have a favorite so far?  I have included IMDB links for the ones in my list that I would recommend.  I enjoyed Dear SantaThe Engagement ClauseChristmas With A View and Christmas Pen Pals but I was especially touched by Christmas Lodge,

I am a relatively smart guy, so I am entirely aware that every Hallmark movie has the same premise.  And I know that within the first 5 minutes that girl will meet boy who she will fall in love with, and either be kissed or engaged in the last 5 minutes of the movie.  So why watch?  Because in that last 5 minutes, where the main characters are able to overcome tragedy or diversity just in time for Christmas, I am filled with so much joy and happiness that it is all worth it.  I want to take that Christmas sprint and spread it to everyone in my life.  I want to remember the reason for the season.  I want to smile and feel the warmth of Lord.  Then I want to have that same feeling stay with me the entire year.

So with 20 days left until Christmas, I have 20 Christmas movies left to watch.  I will continue to update this list until the Sons a bitches! Bumpuses (dogs) run through the house and steal the Christmas turkey, forcing the Parker family to have Chinese food on Christmas Day.  And until then, the Christmas spirit will fill my heart and I hope that it does the same for you.

(updated December 26th)
  1. A Very Brady Christmas
  2. The Christmas Calendar
  3. The Spirit of Christmas
  4. Christmas in the Smokies
  5. A Holiday Engagement
  6. Christmas Inheritance
  7. The March Sisters at Christmas
  8. Christmas in the Heartland
  9. Naughty and Nice
  10. Christmas Crush
  11. Dear Santa
  12. Christmas With A View
  13. Let It Snow
  14. My Santa
  15. The Engagement Clause 
  16. How the Grinch Stole Christmas
  17. Christmas Perfection
  18. Girlfriends of Christmas Past
  19. A Cinderella Christmas
  20. Falling for Christmas (Snowcapped Christmas)
  21. Christmas Miracle
  22. Holly Star
  23. A Christmas in Vermont
  24. Holiday Road Trip
  25. A Very Merry Toy Store
  26. Christmas Pen Pals
  27. Coming Home for Christmas
  28. Christmas Lodge
  29. Switched for Christmas
  30. Christmas Crush
  31. The Princess Switch
  32. The Family Stone
  33. A Cinderella Story: Christmas Wish
  34. The Rooftop Christmas Tree
  35. The Perfect Gift
  36.  Hitched for the Holidays
  37.  Love Actually
  38.  Holly's Holiday
  39.  Snow
  40.  Christmas Grace
  41.  No Sleep 'Til Christmas
  42.  Back to Christmas
  43.  Holiday in Handcuffs
  44.  A Gift Wrapped Christmas
  45.  Christmas Around the Corner
  46.  Christmas Comes To Willow Creek
  47.  My Santa
  48.  The Christmas Project
  49.  It's a Wonderful Life (on a 50's style movie theatre big screen)
  50. A Christmas Story
Bonus Films on Christmas Day
  • Christmas With the Kranks
  • The Grinch (2018)
  • National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation