Let’s be honest: We all have our favorite Countdown to Christmas movies, the ones we will re-watch whenever they are on. Christmas Getaway is one of mine. I can never not watch it.
Newly single Emery, played by Bridget Regan, is assigned an article about an old-fashioned American Christmas. Although she’s a travel writer, she has often spent Christmas alone and rarely, if ever, enjoyed a traditional Christmas in the States. As an enticement to deliver the article, Emery’s editor rents her a cabin in the mountains so that she can relax and ruminate on all the traditions she’s witnessed over her years of travel and potentially get inspired to write a book. While Emory settles into her cabin, Scott, the handsome widow played by Travis Van Winkle, enters the cabin. Believing him to be an intruder, Emory attacks Scott who, along with his delightful daughter, Katy, played by Raven Stewart, is able to block the attack, and they learn that, in classic Hallmark style, they are all booked into the only available cabin. So of course, they end up sharing the cabin for the holidays.
In Real Life I am not sharing a cabin in the mountains with a total stranger, but in the spirit of Christmas Getaway, I can create a Best Christmas Ever To-Do list like Katy did.
A real Christmas tree is a must-have on my list, just as it was for Katy’s. However, I always get a real Christmas tree, and we always hang our stockings by the fireplace, so I am challenging myself to include some new items as I create my Best Christmas Ever To-Do List.
A real Christmas tree is a staple on my list to make this year the Best Christmas Ever. I love the way the smell of a fresh Christmas tree engulfs my Manhattan apartment. As I walk through my front door, I am embraced by the scent of Christmas, and seeing the shimmer of the Christmas tree lights always brings a smile to my face. I enjoy it as much as possible, turning the lights on first thing each morning and waiting until just before bedtime to turn them off.
Yes, I live in a big city, and most Hallmark moments take place in small towns, but just because I live in a city it doesn’t mean I don’t have a neighborhood or a community. Something new this year that I am excited to do is attend my neighborhood Christmas tree lighting ceremony on the Upper West side of Manhattan.
- Volunteer or do something special for someone else
The spirit of the season is not in the gifts we receive, but in the gifts we give, so I plan to carve out time to volunteer to ensure that the true meaning of Christmas is at the forefront of my mind. This year I will volunteer my time with City Santa to help wrap and deliver presents to families in need.
- Make cookies or decorate a gingerbread house
I have a goddaughter (age 6) and a niece and nephew (twins age 5) who all live close enough for me to do these fun—and at times messy—activities with. I can’t wait! Truth be told, I attempted the cookie making last Christmas with my goddaughter. My cookies turned out bad—like solid-as-a-rock, hockey puck, inedible bad (read previous post here about making a Pumpkin Pie to learn there is hope for me yet). And all I had to do was slice and bake them! Clearly I need some practice with my oven. I cannot blame the baking disaster on the 6-year-old; she knows how to make cookies and bakes all the time with her dad and grandmom. She laughed her head off at my baking (in)abilities, and in between decorating my Christmas tree, we turned our cookie “baking” party into the best cookie decorating party (minus any actual cookie eating) with loads of icing and glitter.
This year is a rematch—I’m determined to get this baking thing right!
While ice skating was on Katy’s Best Christmas Ever to-do list and I have ice skated in the past (see previous post Two Turtle Doves In Real Life), it is definitely not a part of my routine. In fact, it may be close to 20 years since I last ice skated, so let’s embrace the Countdown to Christmas and go ice skating this holiday season! I’ve never ice skated at Bryant Park and would love to enjoy this outing with friends. Let’s just hope I complete the activity injury-free! The Hallmark actresses and actors always skate so smoothly. . . . Time will tell how this plays out in Real Life.
- Explore the holiday markets
One of my favorite things to do is explore holiday markets and see the beautiful handmade items by local artists. I find that some of the most special gifts are located at these artisan booths, and it doesn’t feel like the holiday season if I haven’t done some exploring and shopping. I’m particularly excited to check out The Strasbourg-Alsace Christmas Market in New York City—a new attraction in NYC this holiday season, but a concept steeped in hundreds of years of tradition. The oldest Christmas Market in France, Marché de Nöel de Strasbourg-Alsace was established in 1570, and this year we’ll be getting a version of this famous market in Lower Manhattan. I can’t wait to check it out and discover what treasures await.
I prefer experiences over things, so enjoying a show or attending an event that celebrates the spirit of the season is my favorite way to spend the holidays. Through a new Hallmark friendship, I’ve been invited to attend a Christmas Concert at Carnegie Hall—something I have never done before! Clearly this Hallmark journey is offering up new adventures in the most surprising ways, so I hope I can adequately express my gratitude this holiday season.
I hope you will join me and challenge yourself to create a Best Christmas Ever to-do list that celebrates your holiday traditions while branching out to try some new ones. Please share what items are on your Best Christmas Ever list.