As this is posted, it’s four days before Christmas. I’m in Missouri with the Midgorden clan and we’re having a wonderful time.
Since the election, I’ve been soothing my frazzled nerves by watching lots of Christmas movies. I don’t watch the news and have even cut back on my check-ins on social media since I’m highly sensitive to the emotions of others, and lot’s of people are angry and hurting. Sometimes it’s difficult to separate my emotions from those of others.
These past two years I’ve been working on changing my thought patterns so that I can maintain my calm while chaos is happening around me. It’s my goal to be more trusting and loving to all people no matter what. I knew this when I was younger, but I let life beat me down. It’s been a challenge to regain that infallible knowledge that God, or the Universe, or the Field of All Possibilities has my back no matter what.
Anyway, as I was watching all the Hallmark Channel Christmas movies, for which I’m grateful by the way, I got to thinking about the people who aren’t Christian. How do they soothe their fear, anger and disillusionment in this season of discontent? Reading, watching movies and focusing on my creative projects helps me feel better. Yet, it would be nice to read more books by authors from different countries, and to see movies about people from other cultures so I can get a feeling for the insights they gain from their experiences.
To that end, I’ve decided that this coming year I’m going to widen my reading and watching fare so I can deepen my understanding of people from other parts of the world. It’s one of the ways I can advance the cause of peace within myself and in my interactions with other people. If I’ve learned anything from the election, it’s that insulating oneself and being unwilling to change is not a good thing. I don’t want to do that. I want to be open, accepting, compassionate and loving.
Another thing I’ve been thinking is that it would be nice if the networks would open up their programing during this time of year to be more inclusive. It must sometimes feel quite oppressive to have so many programs centered around just one religion’s celebration. It’s just a thought. I know ratings are the name of the game, but I’d watch.
I thought I’d share a list of books and movies that helped me get a different perspective of the world, and the people in the stories.
The first three books and their corresponding movie, or mini-series, that were deeply affecting were, A Tale of Two Cities, Roots, and Shogun. Once I’d read those books and seen them on TV, I was irrevocably changed, especially given the fact that people really were beheaded because of their class, or association with that class, people were captured and transported here against their will, and foreigners were treated with deep suspicion.
Other stories that widened my world were:
A Price Above Rubies with Reneé Zellweger. It’s about a young woman who is married to a devout Jew. It tells of the problems the main character has in her marriage. She wants something more out of her life and eventually breaks free. This movie affected me long after I saw it. It’s a beautiful story of a woman searching for herself and her place in the world.
Loving Leah – A Hallmark Hall of Fame quirky love story revolving around the unexpected wedding and unconventional married life of a 26-year old devout Jewish widow and her late husband’s brother, a handsome 30-year old cardiologist. I loved this movie because it showed a bit about the Jewish culture and how love is something we all hope for.
The Book Thief – Both the book and the movie are fantastic. While subjected to the horrors of World War II Germany, young Liesel finds solace by stealing books and sharing them with others. In the basement of her home, a Jewish refugee is being protected by her adoptive parents. I loved both the book and the movie because it showed how some of the ordinary people of Germany might have coped under the oppressive Nazi regime.
Memoirs of a Geisha – Again, both the book and the movie are touching and poignant. Nitta Sayuri reveals how she transcended her fishing-village roots and became one of Japan’s most celebrated geisha. It’s a world shrouded in mystery. Again, we see how the ordinary people coped with World War II, and how the role of the Geisha was changed forever.
Bridge to the Sun – Based on a true story, this compelling drama relates the difficulties of a young woman married to a Japanese diplomat during World War II, a victim of suspicion and animosity from her husband’s government. I loved this story because it showed, like The Book Thief, and Memoirs of a Geisha, the life of the ordinary people during World War II, some of them not agreeing with their government.
Cheyenne Autumn – In the light of the stand off at Standing Rock, this might be of interest to you. It’s an older movie based on true events. When the government agency fails to deliver even the meager supplies due by treaty to the proud Cheyenne tribe in their barren desert reserve, the starving Indians having taken more abuse than it’s worth, break the treaty too by embarking on a 1,500 miles journey back to their ancestral hunting grounds. It paints some of the whites in a rosy light, but what is particularly interesting is the way the Native Americans are portrayed. They are proud and determined to live life on their own terms. They have conflicts among themselves but manage, at least for a time to gain their freedom. You can fast forward through the scenes with James Stewart playing Wyatt Earp which was added in leu of an intermission.
To round out my movie suggestions, you might want to watch Babette’s Feast. It’s based on the novel by Karen Blixen, of the Out of Africa, fame. I suggest it because it’s climax is a feast which most of us will soon be enjoying as well. In a remote 19th-century Danish village, two sisters lead a rigid life centered around their father, the local minister, and their church. They both have had opportunities to leave, but ended up taking care of their father. After his death, they take in a French refugee, Babette Hersant, who agrees to work as their servant. When Babette wins the lottery, she offers to repay them by cooking an elaborate French meal in honor of their father’s 100 birthday. The meal turns out to be an eye opening experience for everyone in attendance.
I hope you are able to have feasts and share lots of love this holiday season. Cooking and sharing a meal with those you love is one of the things we all have in common.
Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment or share with a friend.
If you would like to receive notifications about my upcoming book, The Space Between Time, or my “Loving Literature” videos, you can join my email list by clicking this link.
Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016
5 thoughts on “Four Days Before Christmas and …”
Thank you for sharing this great list of books/movies! Some I have seen/read, but many I have not. It’s a technological challenge to dig through today’s movie base and find something worth watching, so I really appreciate your suggestions! I’ve learned so much from books and movies about other cultures. You mention the Jewish culture, one that is rich with tradition and wisdom. I am not Jewish, but I grew up surrounded by them and count many among my most cherished friends. As a kid I was blessed to have the opportunity to attend Seders, bar mitzvahs, bas mitzvahs, Friday night services at the synagogue and to sample some of my friend’s “Bubby” (grandmother) most delicious recipes. Fiddler on the Roof is one of my all time favorite movies as it shares so beautiful the richness of this tradition. Expanding our understanding and compassion of those who are not like us is the surest way to bridge the rift that has befallen our world. Your words are an inspiration as always, Lucinda!
LikeLiked by 1 person
Dorothy, You are lucky. I grew up in a series of small towns, but I was privileged to attend school with some Native Americans, though I was not as kind or accepting of our differences then as I am now. One of my favorite classes when I was studying the world’s religions was Old Testament class. The Jewish culture and religion fascinates me. *Fiddler on the Roof* is a movie I’m going to show in my Dramatic Structure class this coming semester.
As I’ve grown older, I’m even more interested in different cultures and religions. I want to connect with people, not turn them away. One of the greatest privileges of my life was to teach high school in a border town with a approximately 70% Hispanic and Latino population. I loved learning about their festivals and traditions. I have to say, they were dedicated to getting a good education. The parents at that school were the most supportive of the teachers. It was a wonderful place to teach.
Reblogged this on Late Blooming Writers and commented:
Lucinda, a late blooming writer, is an inspiration to me and the other members of the Aging Abundantly writer’s community. She is on the verge of publishing her first adult fiction book, and I was fortunate to receive an early draft. I’m happy to say I love it! It’s imaginative and thought provoking.
I’m sharing this blog with you, because it is packed with book and movie suggestions and mini-reviews for anyone interested in broadening their perspective and understanding of other cultures and traditions. In this time of increased divisiveness ,it is a welcome list.
Thank you, Lucinda!
LikeLiked by 1 person
Lucinda, I am not Christian. I do not do Christmas. I cannot stomach the music, the movies, etc. that makes this season a bit difficult since it is everywhere.
To feel better, I try to be kind. I engage in random acts of kindness. Doing something good makes me feel good, and the look of joy on another person’s face when I do something kind boosts me for a whole day.
I take comfort in my friends who believe (or disbelieve) as I do. I join friends for parties, book groups, writing groups. All of these things feed my soul.
Hope your Christmas among loved ones is wonderful.
My day was yesterday – Solstice. I enjoyed it with friends who cam from far away. My partner will be here tomorrow or Friday. I am quite content.
Emilie, Sorry to take so long getting back to you. I understand. When people ask me if I’m a Christian, I don’t quite know what to say. I’m kind a bit of everything now after so many years of study. I like the idea of being kind to others to help yourself feel better. That always works for me. I hope you are having a wonderful holiday season. This time of year is significant because of the celebration of the return of the light, if for no other reason. I’m glad you had a wonderful Solstice celebration.