Resolve

holiday inn irving berlinI usually don’t do New Years resolutions, I’d really rather not set myself up for failure…and that’s not self-deprecation, that’s just me being happily realistic. But this year I’m resolving on a few things, not really goals or achievements, but more like mental sticky notes. We watched Irving Berlin’s 1942 film Holiday Inn for New Year’s Eve. It doesn’t get the hype like White Christmas does, but I honestly think I love it even more. Perhaps because I’m entering this year with new creative eyes since beginning the blog, but this time around watching it, the movie inspired me in ways it never has. If you haven’t seen it, Holiday Inn follows Bing Crosby as he leaves his upscale, New York City showbiz life to live on a farm and seek a quieter life. When he realizes farm-life isn’t as “slow” as he imagined it to be, he gets the bright idea to bring New York life to the country and open the Holiday Inn, an inn that offers performances only on holidays. A love-triangle, some Fred Astaire dance numbers, and a few Irving Berlin song debuts sung, of course, by Bing, pretty much sums up the movie.

This year, I identified with Bing’s character Jim Hardy: not because we share similar life-paths, although I did abandon my job to pursue something a little off the beaten path much like he did, though I have nothing like his success of opening an Inn to boast about. Instead, I think the things he learned on the way to his successes are something that I should keep in mind while pursuing whatever path I choose to go down in 2013.

holiday inn 1942 film

Resolutions

Don’t be afraid of abandoning dreams. Bing’s dream when he left show business was to live quietly in the country. He dreamt of an ideal pastoral life as a farmer, far away from the stress and shallowness of city life on the stage. When he discovered farming was so NOT the ideal he imagined it to be, he wasn’t afraid to admit failure, and not give up, but drastically rethink his initial dream. Mental Sticky Note #1:  I’m pretty stubborn about my dreams. When I latch onto an idea I usually try whatever is necessary to make it work. Sometimes though, letting go of dreams opens up the possibility to dream of something new that you never would have seen while you were doggedly driving after something that couldn’t work.

Don’t give up too soon. Even after Bing gave up his farm for the Holiday Inn, he struggled to make his new vision a productive reality. Sticky Note #2: I’m forever expecting instant assurance a decision was the right one or an unavoidable red flag to tell me to turn back. But, sometimes, being patient and trusting is all you can do while you wait to see where a decision has led.

Contentedness is rare no matter where you are. Disgruntled in show business, disgusted with farm life, and often distressed by the Holiday Inn, Bing is forever searching for something he doesn’t have.

holiday inn 1942

Sticky Note #3: Be careful where you expect to gain your happiness, more often than not like Bing discovered, what you’re working on won’t give you much back. What will give back though are the people you’re working for. If they’re happy, you’ll be happy, and you’ll know it and everything will be worth while.

 Holiday Inn 1942

Independence shouldn’t bring solitude. When Bing attempts to keep his creative ambitions to himself and resist the encroachment of the entertainment world he fled from, he finds himself not just independent in rural Connecticut, but quite, quite alone. Sticky Note #4: Doing things for yourself are all well and good, but putting those things ahead of the people who will love you with or without success is never a good idea.

Holiday Inn is always a must-watch for my holiday, but this is the first year I watched it on New Year’s Eve and I think I’m going to keep it that way. It’s a nice reminder of things to look forward to in the coming year, and brush a little of the post-holiday blues away. Happy New Year everyone! I wanted to especially thank all of you who have been regularly visiting VMMV. Your readership keeps me motivated to keep writing, and I love each and every bit of feedback I get. I have mixed feelings of excitement and trepidation about 2013, the unknown is always a bit foreboding but I’ve got a few mental sticky notes stuck pretty tight in my mind to help me face the new year and hopefully make it a grand one.

– <3 A.

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A March Christmas

little women image via angelblee.com

You may not think of it as a tale for Christmas-time, but Little Women is one of my favorite films to watch as soon as the twinkle lights go up. With scene after scene of the little family gathered around a fire and a Christmas tree, it’s impossible not to get excited that December has come again at last.

winona ryder Little Women image via gaurdian.co.uk

little women winona ryder

Beyond it’s Christmas cheer though, the story also has quite a bit to say about some pretty hot topics even for the modern world. The 1994 version starring Winona Ryder as the indomitable Jo March I think captures very well what Louisa May Alcott intended to do with her novel. Though you may believe it to be merely a children’s story, Little Women is chock-full of some rather serious themes: Anti-slavery, transcendentalism, women’s rights, war, and the list goes on. Very quickly it becomes clear that Jo (Winona Ryder) is the new feminine ideal that Alcott seeks to promote. While the other girls follow typical (for the time) feminine pursuits of seeking love and marriage, Jo longs for adventures and accomplishments outside the home. Disgusted when her oldest sister Meg begins to fall for a young tutor, Jo remarks that she “can’t get over (her) disappointment in not being a boy, and it’s worse than ever now, for I’m dying to go and fight with Papa, and I can only stay home and knit like a poky old woman.”

Set during the Civil War era, women definitely had few rights and were expected to  fulfill their roles as wife and mother without thoughts of education or accomplishment. The March family, and Jo specifically, is rather radical however. They promote education, Mrs. March encourages Jo in her writing and even assists her in gaining a position as a governess in New York City when Jo grows fitful and restless in the domestic realm of her home.

little women winona ryderThrough Jo, Alcott captures the battle many women, even modern women, experience: the pull between loving one’s family so desperately yet simultaneously seeking to use their skills to change the world beyond their intimate family. Jo is, by far, the most sentimental of all her sisters. Though she longs for experiences beyond her home, she is in anguish over her family being “broken up” by growing up, getting married, and becoming women. When she at last goes to New York, Jo comes up against obstacle after obstacle for all the adventures she believes she will begin to have. The writing she intended to live off of is described by the serious journals as simple “fairy tales,” and she is crushed that the talent she had nurtured at home begins to be seen as insignificant in the world at large.

little women winona ryder Longing to be respected as other male writers, Jo writes of violent battles, pens dark tales, and publishes under the pseudonym “Joseph March.” Despite her friend Professor Bhaer’s advice to “write what she knows,” for only then will her writing illustrate the passions of her heart and be memorable, Jo tries again and again to write how she believes she should. It is only when Jo returns home following her sister’s death when she discovers what Professor Bhaer meant. Sitting in the attic of her childhood home, the film shows Jo writing page after page of the “domestic” story of how she and her sisters grew up. The story, though Jo shrank from writing it for she believed it to be merely a woman’s tale, is a huge hit: Jo at last writes from her heart, her feminine heart. She wrote about what broke it, what fulfilled it, what she hoped for, who she loved, and why she loved them. She stopped trying to live out the adventures she wished she could have fighting alongside the men on the front-lines, and wrote about the battles she faced in her own life.

image via gutenberg.org

Jo came to understand that she didn’t have to try to live her life as a man did for she had something to offer they didn’t. She could use her femininity to her advantage. She began a school in the manor her wealthy aunt left her, married her best friend Professor Bhaer, and sought to teach others what her mother had first taught her. Though it took her most of her young life to understand, Jo realizes that in their own way, “women work a good many miracles,” and THAT power is a significant one indeed.

 -<3 A.