Thursday, December 7, 2017

Christmastime, 3 Lesser-known Films, 1 Book

Christmastime, 3 Lesser-known Films, 1 Book
Landis Valley

Dean and I watched an old movie recently that I quickly warmed up to.

"Our Vines Have Tender Grapes" is so sweet I plan to share it with my grandchildren.

Acting extravagantly, I bought the DVD.

I photographed it surrounded by my tiny fabric yo-yo garland that I added more yo-yos to recently.

While I was standing in the kitchen over Thanksgiving holiday telling Sophia about it, ending with "I got the DVD," I heard a funny little echo emanating from the next room. It came from the munchkin mouth of 2-year-old Eloise. Learning to talk, she regularly repeats the word she hears at the tail end of a sentence. I thought I heard, "No DVD." I asked her mother, "Did you hear that?"
Sophia said,"Yes, I guess she was born in the computer age, the generation of no DVDs."

Landis Valley's roomy Yellow Barn where wedding receptions are held. 
Landis Valley, work horse
This film is a slice of Americana. It takes place during the course of one year, 1945, in a small farm community of Norwegian immigrants in Wisconsin.

One farming couple (not too young) have one child, little Selma. We see the story through Selma's eyes.

Father-daughter heart-to-heart talks crop up. Selma has an inquiring mind. She isn't afraid to ask questions about her world. She trusts her father will never say, "I don't know. Go ask your mother, I'm busy."

He came up to Dean to have his photo taken. So Dean did.

He stops to answer Selma, recognizing her questions to be valuable teaching moments when he can sensitively impart truth to her.

Meanwhile our young men are going overseas to fight for freedom. At home, people are fighting for freedom and the American way-of-life in their own humble hard-working way.

Christmastime brings the community to church to worship Christ the newborn King.

Why am I smitten with this film? The loving kindness and generosity of the characters during a trying time, is very touching. 

One of the little books I in my Christmast stash is Let's Keep Christmas, illustrated by Barbara Cooney in 1952.This uplifting sermon by Peter Marshall takes five minutes to read and is a pleasant way to end an evening.
Landis Valley, Children making a snowman.Grandma watches while she sweeps the porch.
Dean's mother Esther, once told me about a new friend she made. This lady was in her nineties and quite frail. She told Esther that her pastor in years gone by, was Peter Marshall. But Esther hadn't heard of him. A week later this lady went to be with Jesus but had evidently (just prior) asked her daughter to send Esther the book, A Man Called Peter written by his wife Catherine Marshall, author of Christie. The daughter handed the book to Esther a day after her mother's decease. Both friends are with Jesus now. We never know who God will bring in our path, when, or where. One life, if it is a life of kindness, will always in some way touch another in an uplifting way.

My daughter Yolanda makes delicious treats at holiday time. She made us some ginger bread.

One of the fun fairy-tale-like Christmastime films I used to have on VHS is "The Snowman." The music is gorgeous. It is based on a picture book by Raymond Briggs. (The Snowman's nose is a tangerine.)

I told a young mother about this British film produced in the 1980s because she hadn't heard of it so I thought to recommend it here.

The snowman (like Frosty the Snowman) has magic powers that enable him to fly through the air and take the boy who built him to the North Pole. There the snowman introduces the boy to Father Christmas. What a delight! They join a merry party. Then they fly home. You can guess the end of the story because you know what happens to all snowmen.

It is a silent film with a dream-like quality (the boy wakes up from a dream) but the music in this pantomime blends-in well and enhances the plot. Your children will be riveted.   

Here's another film that is a slice of Americana. It claims to be true. The story was made public originally in a magazine article. "All Mine to Give" is filled with hope. A young immigrant couple from Scotland (with bonnie accents) carve out a life for themselves in the 19th century, among a community of God fearing people in the mid-west.

Dad makes sure Mom has a pump inside their log cabin - quite an innovation in those days. They love each other dearly but their relationship is humorously "real." Dad sees life through the wisdom of poet Robert Burns. Sickness eventually takes both hard-working parents and leaves their six children orphaned. What becomes of the children?

When Dean and I watched it before I knew what was happening my face became wet with tears. The children are so cute, especially on Christmas Day. You'll need a tissue box to take care of a whirlpool of different emotions in the final scene.

This is my take. Loving kindness is not possible without a degree of sympathy, courage, service, and generosity. You'll find all five virtues tucked inside this true story. Warner Brother's trailer of the film can be found on YouTube.

Landis Valley model of the yellow barn.
Although the world, through its easy acceptance of secular humanism, would like to believe we can be good without God, both films (to their credit) "Our Vines Have Tender Grapes" and "All Mine to Give," drop clues for us to follow. In reality it is the life of Christ that trains the conscience and most deeply inspires the hearts of people, to do the work necessary for living unselfishly.

May we all aspire to be more like our Lord.

 End Notes
For easy access to read more about the resources above, I link them here.

Our Vines Have Tender Grapes

Lets Keep Christmas

The Snowman

All Mine to Give

A Man Called Peter by Catherine Marshall. This is the award-winning film based on the book.

Ginger cookies at Landis Valley 
Every Christmas Blessing Be Yours,
Karen Andreola                                         


  1. Thank you for these interesting recommendations, I don't know these films at all but I am sure they are lovely.
    One christmas, I did a recital with the story of the "Snowman" with my piano students, with the story read in between the music. I own a copy of the picture book including the songs. It was a lovely evening!
    Back to decorating my gingerbread... The christmas vibes coming from your house are truly inspiring!

  2. It is always a treat to have recommendations for wholesome and inspiring books and movies! Thank you!

    (I am also inspired by the tree of iced gingerbread cookies at Landis Valley! Delightful!)

  3. I tried commenting here yesterday, but it must not have come through! Thank you so much for this lovely post! I value your recommendations highly. I wondered if you have seen the newer Swallows and Amazons movie? Is it enriching? Blessings to you and yours, Karen. Amy

  4. Your yo-yo garland is charming. The colors are so warm and Christmasy.
    Thank you for sharing the movie ideas. I remember The Snowman from my older children's early years. My aunt, who directed a Montessori preschool for over 40 years, shared it with me.
    I read a book of Peter Marshall's sermons many years ago, arranged in the prosey, free verse way that he wrote them out by hand. It was so inspiring that I later read A Man Called Peter, an after that watched the film version. Couldn't they use a man like Peter Marshall in Washington DC today? And his Christmas sermon illustrated by Barbara Cooney? What a combination!
    Karen, I pray your Advent and Christmas seasons are blessed.

  5. Thank you, Mrs. Andreola. My husband and I recently watched the movie about Peter Marshall--it was lovely. The Snowman is a family favorite. The music is so beautiful! We will look forward to enjoying the other films you recommended. God's blessings to you!

  6. Thank You for the movies and books suggestions. We are not familiar with the movies and two of the books. The Snowman book we have.

  7. It's so pleasant to hear from you, Ladies. The Christmas of 1986 we spent in England. That year we heard a young boy sing the theme-song from "The Snowman" at a Christmas party. Beautiful. You always cheer me up, Ladies. How interesting that a movie was done based on the book "Swallows and Amazons." I haven't seen it. I'm sorry I left out photos of inside of "Let's Keep Christmas" of Barbara Cooney's early work. It has line drawings, more simple than her later work. It has green accents, as it is a one-color book. But they are sweet. Snow is expected here tomorrow. Last year we had the snow tires put on the car by this time but found we didn't hardly need them all winter. This year will probably be an entirely different story. We'll be making snowmen in 2018 I think. Blessings, friends. Karen A.

  8. Thank You Karen for this inspiring and informative post. All of these movies and books sound interesting and entertaining. Wishing you and yours a Blessed Christmas and a Happy,Healthy, Peace filled 2018.

  9. Hello, Karen.
    A dear neighbor quietly left a poinsettia on our front porch yesterday. It was such a sweet kindness.

    A precious great-niece was at our house on Wednesday evening. I had the lights off and the candles lit. My heart was warmed when she said, "It feels just like Christmas Eve in here!" We don't have a tree this year (my uncooperative back announces loudly that that would be foolishness at this time), and there is not yet a present in sight. She reminded me of how stillness and quietness really do call to our souls.
    Merry Christmas to You and Yours,

  10. What great selections! A Man Called Peter has long been one of my favorite films. You mention that All Mine to Give claims to be a true story, and it is! The story was first written in the book The Day They Gave the Babies Away by Dale Eunson, who was the son of one of the children in the story. I have the book in my living book lending library, and while I don't believe I can add a photo here, I will add it to your FB post. I own the movie also, and as is most often true, the book is even better than the movie.

  11. Your remarks about the subtle Christian messages in two of the movies reminds me of how I was taught the "Golden Rule" in public school. What a difference that made. Of course, I didn't know that it was derived from the Greatest Commandment until I was an adult, but surely knowing this rule, under God's common grace, made a huge difference to the morale back then. I see and hear of the cruelty among students these days, and am sure they don't learn the Rule anymore.

  12. Thanks for the recommendations. The Snowman is beautifully crafted, story and music together (don't bother with the sequel). My kids 6, 4, 2 all adore it. It can be found on youtube by searching "the Snowman 1982."

  13. Hi Karen, I was happy to discover your blog the other day. I am a grandmother whose grandsons are being homeschooled. Although I only homeschooled my own children briefly many years ago, I got deeply involved in the homeschool world while working for Steve Demme. I think I may have spoken to you on the phone years ago when you were working for a Christian bookstore (?) I appreciate your ministry to parents over the years. I am retired now, but am administering a page for homeschoolers in Southern Lancaster County, where I try to keep parents abreast of local resources and offer a little encouragement from time to time. God bless you and help with your physical battles!

  14. I've been listening to 'Walking in the Air' from the Snowman soundtrack for a few months at my daughter's orchestra practices. I'd never heard the music before & even after months of listening, the music is still exquisite.

  15. Blessings Karen,

    May the Lord continue to draw you closer to him.

  16. Your wintry-red "cover" at the top of the page is just right. It makes me think of Little Fan in 'A Christmas Carol.' "Home, home, home!" What a welcome when I open your page. <3
    We got 8 inches of snow on Wednesday, and another inch or two last night. "White Christmas" and "Let it Snow" are not wishes this year.
    Tomorrow we light the rose-colored candle on the Advent wreath. It is called Laetare (Rejoicing) Sunday. Take joy!

  17. Hi Ladies, We are covered in snow. I always like December snow. Nigel helped me with the banner. I told him I wanted to include the pretzels. The heart of the home is the kitchen I think. So good to hear from you all. Karen A.

  18. Thank you, so much, Ms. Karen, for sharing these resources. Our family watched All Mine To Give and The Snowman during the Christmas season. All Mine To Give really touches our hearts, especially since we are a family of 7 children and we’ve just recently moved from the Midwest to PA. My children saw themselves in the movie’s family. Such a sweet new tradition for us. We also purchased The Snowman book to go along with the short film. My sensitive kiddos were so sad at the end, but it’s defintely another keeper for the Christmas season.

    Thanks again, for sharing your resources with us.