A Genuine Gritty Christmas

My kids are home! Which means no time to blog (and also why I did not post yesterday). No time for anything at all except spend time with Sarah and Josh and make sure they are well fed so that they know how much their mother loves them. That’s what mothers do when their kids descend on the home front. Besides, it’s the holidays.

So I’m spending more time than usual in the kitchen. I’m making fancy dishes like coconut shrimp, Sicilian chicken tortellini with mushrooms, and baking their favorite treats, including chocolate chip banana bread–until they’re so full they beg me to get stop cooking!

And then there’s our annual Christmas Eve tradition: Going to the movies.

Jeff Bridges and Hailee Steinfeld make "True Grit" a winner.

Seeing a movie on Christmas Eve is the best because most folks are gathering at home with loved ones, which means that movie theaters are relatively empty. Plenty of seating, plenty of parking and hardly any traffic at all. So it’s a great time to see a new release.

Most years we have no problem deciding on a film, though choosing can be tricky. If it was just up to Sarah and me, we’d pick a comedy, a British drama, or a chick flick. But with Josh, that’s not going to fly. He prefers action.This year, Sarah wanted to see “The Little Fockers” and I wanted to see “How Do You Know.” Josh was interested in “True Grit.” I like to let the movie critics contribute to the decision process but Josh and Sarah don’t take much stock in their reviews, whereas I trust them implicitly. There’s been many a film I’ve wanted to see, but have put the kibosh on once I read the reviews.

So, while letting the critics help us decide is out, allowing Rotten Tomatoes, where filmgoers get to rate the movies, is in. Which is how we learned that the “Little Fockers” and “How Do You Know,” ranked near the bottom (11 and 34%, respectively), but the score for True Grit (95%) was through the roof. So despite my misgivings about the film, I plunked down $39.50 for three tickets to see “True Grit” starring Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon and a breakout newcomer named, Hailee Steinfeld.

First, let me tell you why I didn’t want to see it. I saw the original when I was 14 and did not like it one iota. My brother Cesar, dragged me along and made me sit through it twice (yes, back then moviegoers could sit through two, even three showings of a film and no one said anything or tried to kick you out). Forget the fact that Westerns are not my thing. Cesar convinced me to go because, as he put it, I’d love the story about a girl with moxie, which, he assured me, I would be able to relate to my own life (which proved false, as I never had the desire to avenge anything). So I went with my brother to see the John Wayne film and I downright hated it because, moxie or no moxie, Kim Darby, who played the role of the young girl, could not hide the fact that this movie is a Western. And I DON’T LIKE WESTERNS!

But now I’m a mom and Josh wanted “True Grit” and Sarah was willing to see it too. With memories of the original very much intact, I braced myself for two hours of agony. And I could not have been more wrong.

The Coen brothers have revitalized this story in a big way. It’s fresh, it’s exciting. Funny and compelling, too. The writing is crisp and witty. And the young Steinfeld is sensational. If I could’ve stayed to see it twice, I just might have. It is that good. And best yet, it didn’t at all feel like a western to me. If you ask me, it had more of a feel of the film, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, than an ordinary, humorless western.

Yes, I love spending time with my kids. So much fun and yet so fleeting. The house is a mess with all their stuff strewn about, but I don’t care. We’re spending Christmas Day together, watching basketball games. (Guess whose choice that was?) Two of us are still in pajamas and one of us (me) is not, due to needing to take Henry out for periodic walks. We’re noshing on leftovers, and I can’t think of any place I’d rather be except with my kids. All grown up but still wanting to be here. With their mom–that’s me!

7 thoughts on “A Genuine Gritty Christmas

  1. Merry Christmas, Monica — sounds as if Santa brought you exactly what you wanted! 🙂

    Great post…I can feel your contentedness, your passion for your children and your engagement with them. And you also inspired this non-Western-lover to want to go see True Grit.


    • Mikalee, I’m glad you’re willing to do as I did and forget all your preconceived notions about Westerns. This one is so worth seeing and I for one can’t wait to see more of Hailee Steinfeld.

      Hope your Christmas was also wonderful. Wishing you a very Happy New Year, too! 🙂

  2. Sounds like you are having a wonderful Christmas! It’s refreshing to read that there aren’t any screaming kids, meddling parents, or complaining of being exasperated. Just a nice day of enjoying eachother’s company!

    Merry Christmas

    • It’s been absolute bliss! After watching two basketball games, and the best of Twilight Zone episodes (I gave my son the complete TZ series), we then played Scrabble. And though it was raining outside, inside we were all cozy and warm by the fireplace, listening to Black Eyed Peas. With older kids, one still needs to make certain accommodations, you know. Today we’re watching the Chargers game. My son and I will cheer them on profusely, before he gets in his car for the three-plus-hour drive home.

  3. I can tell by your writing that you’re in heaven right now with them home. It sounds great! And I’m glad to hear that you approve of True Grit. I had no desire to see it either, so I told Bryan to go by himself (which he was happy to do). He said it was phenomenal and that I would have liked it. So with recommendations from you two, I’ll have to add it to me “must see” list.

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