Only your phantasy sets the limit

Braiding traditional Scandinavian Christmas hearts can be as simple as braiding two times two loops of paper into each other.   julehjerte fra fest-tips-dk  (found at fest-tips.dk)

Or you can make it a bit more complicated and cut your papers into as many loops as you can handle.

016 (found at chatbreak.dk)

If you would like to make it more difficult, you could try to cut the loops in different width.

017 022 026 (found at chatbreak.dk)

Or you could cut them not straight.

julehjerter11 (found at www.duda.dk)

Or into bows.

010 011 018 (found at chatbreak.dk),

julehjerter31 julehjerter32 (found at www.duda.dk)

You can give your heart a modern look

027 (found at chatbreak.dk)julehjerter27 (found at www.duda.dk)

You can cut the paper and fold it so your heart shows different shapes like hearts

julehjerter16 (found at www.duda.dk), 005 009

013 019 020 025 (found at chatbreak.dk),

Dots

008 (found at chatbreak.dk)

Waves

021 (found at chatbreak.dk)

Flowers

004 012 013 015

018 023 024 (found at chatbreak.dk)

Stars

003 006  (found at chatbreak.dk) julehjerter22 (found at www.duda.dk)

Or even a bell,

007 (found at chatbreak.dk)

Or an angel,

002 (found at chatbreak.dk)

Or a Christmas tree

014 (found at chatbreak.dk)

The more complicated the cut and the shape of what you want to be on your heart, the more difficult it is to braid it, but everything is possible and only your phantasy sets the limit.

If you want to see more braided hearts you can go here: https://www.google.dk/search?q=flettede+julehjerter&biw=1440&bih=795&noj=1&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=LAOSVJ5YhuLLA4rxgKgM&ved=0CAgQ_AUoAQ (okay, you might have to copy and paste it into your browser)

Classic braided Christmas heart

flettet julehjerte 001  Most Scandinavian Christmas trees are decorated with this kind of homemade hearts. Please click to enlarge the picture (not my picture)

The classic Christmas heart is made from two pieces of paper (a white one and a red one) and a handle – the handle is the only part that has to be glued on.

  1. Cut two pieces of paper (red and white) 7 x 23 cm
  2. Fold the pieces in the middle with the colored side inwards.
  3. Draw the three lines and the arc, which have to be cut with scissors.
  4. Cut following the lines
  5. Fold the two pieces of the heart so the colored sides face outwards.
  6. Braid the two parts into each other and glue the handle on.

Traditionally these hearts are filled with a few pieces of chocolate or candy or maybe raisins while they are hanging on the tree and the children are only allowed to empty the hearts after the Christmas party is over.

A light in the dark

In my part of the world the sun today went up at 8.31 AM and down at 3.34 PM. That means we had 7 hours 3 minutes of daylight and 16 hours 57 minutes of darkness. In 10 days, on December 21rst, on the shortest day and longest night of the year, the sun will go up at 8.40 AM and down at 3.36 PM, and we will have daylight for 6 hours 56 minutes and darkness for 17 hours 4 minutes. That’s a lot of darkness.

WP_20141211_23_29_32_Pro 1 In Scandinavia it has always been important to make the darkness bearable and our homes cozy, to light a candle and feel that we are not alone.

Traditionally we’ve mostly kept our light inside the houses for hundreds and thousands of years. The city of Copenhagen for instance had until the year 1500 only one single burning light outdoors. It was a wood fire really, in a basked hanging from a pole in front of the city hall. Everywhere else at that time, where people went out at night, they had to find their way through the darkness. Later inventions were made, like lamps burning fish oil, but because they were made from metal and horn, they only gave little light. Even later glass was used instead of horn and gas instead of fish oil, and in 1857 in Copenhagen 1600 oil lamps were replaced by 1800 gas lamps.

The very first electrical outdoor light was again used in Copenhagen in 1881, but in most other places and especially in the country side, electrical street lights weren’t used before several decades later. That means we’ve had electrical street lights for a little over hundred years.

rådhuspladsens juletræ  The Christmas tree in front of the city hall in Copenhagen (not my picture)

In 1914 the Danish journalist Henrik Cavling had the idea to put up a Christmas tree in front of the city hall in Copenhagen to share electric light with all the citizens, because far from everyone had electric light in their houses in those days. The Christmas tree on Rådhuspladsen, the square in front of the city hall, has it’s 100 years anniversary this year.

When I was a child back in Germany in the fifties and sixties, we had electrical street lights, also in my street, but there was no outdoor Christmas tree anywhere, and no one used electrical light for outdoor decoration. I don’t remember when I first saw an outdoor Christmas tree with lights. It must have been at some point when I was a young adult, but it didn’t leave a lasting impression.

I like it, when people decorate their houses and gardens with electrical lights though. It makes it so much more interesting to walk or drive around at night. A light chain in a tree or bush makes a house look so much more idyllic when it’s dark. Thanks to the development of cheaper electrical light and especially LED, more and more people use light chains, not only around Christmas, but also as a light they keep up most of the winter.

lyskæde på flagstang  Light on a flag pole (not my picture)

Many people just decorate one or two or maybe even a few trees in their garden, and a new trend, when it comes to Christmas and winter lights, is the decoration of one’s flag pole, but today I saw some really serious Christmas decoration.

Some time ago somebody told me about a street in a nearby small city called Hinnerup, where the residents compete with each other about having the most decorations on their houses, and today, while my daughter Julie and I were in the area anyway while it was dark already, we went there to see what it was people talked about. This was what we saw: WP_20141211_17_52_11_Pro WP_20141211_17_52_20_Pro WP_20141211_17_52_31_Pro WP_20141211_17_52_45_Pro WP_20141211_17_52_49_Pro WP_20141211_17_53_41_ProWP_20141211_17_47_27_Pro WP_20141211_17_47_43_Pro WP_20141211_17_48_49_Pro WP_20141211_17_48_53_Pro WP_20141211_17_49_15_Pro WP_20141211_17_49_22_ProWP_20141211_17_49_39_Pro WP_20141211_17_49_51_Pro WP_20141211_17_50_25_Pro WP_20141211_17_50_56_Pro WP_20141211_17_51_23_Pro 1 WP_20141211_17_51_39_Pro

About white Italians, Sussex, Danish country and a lot of eggs

It looks like keeping the Sussex rooster is a success. No more crowing at 1:30 AM, no more bullying, no more bad behavior all in all. It’s nice to see how friendly and well behaved poultry can be towards each other.

Since we slaughtered all the faverolles the other day our rooster has become new best friends with our 4 young Danish country hens. They go together as a group and either stay in the coop or in the chicken run or they stroll through the garden.

It’s clear that the rooster isn’t just following them around, no, the hens are seeking his companionship as much as he seeks theirs. It’s just beautiful.

Hens are said to be quite delicate creatures who can stop laying eggs for any stretch of time if only one of their fellows is taken away, so we were rather interest in how they would take it that five of the younger members of the group were taken out of the game. Not that we want the hens to lay a lot of eggs actually.

See, we – or my daughter and son in law – started this coop with four saved white Italian hens from an egg battery.

I don’t have first hand knowledge about it, but I’ve been told what is done to the hens in an egg battery. Apparently they are put into small cages, 4 or 5 hens in each cage, so they don’t have any of the things a free bird would have in nature. There is no dirt to scrape, no worms and beetles to eat, no sun that’s shining on them or dust do bath in, nor are there any of the other things a bird would normally do. So they just sit there, with not enough space to move around and nothing else to do than to pick each others feathers.

They get food and water and very likely antibiotics so a single stray bacteria won’t kill them all, and they also get things to eat that will make them give more eggs, and in their world it never gets dark, because the more light they get, the more eggs they give, so the light is on all night.

They sit there until the first natural dip in the stream of eggs they produce occurs, and then they are destroyed in a really nasty way. They are taken from their cages by their feet and while they’re still alive and conscious, they are thrown into a shredder and they become fodder for minks.

Sometimes some nice people are able to convince some of the egg farmers to spare the lives of a few of the hens – lets say 250 out of several thousands – and give them a chance to get a good life.

My daughter and son in law got 4 of the lucky ones this spring. They were skinny and practically naked, their feet were crooked and their combs were white, but they were alive. They also were traumatized and afraid of their own shadows.

Since then they’ve come a long way. Their feet are fine, their combs are red, they’ve gained a little weight, they’ve got feathers and best of all, it looks like they love life. Come rain, come snow, come storm, those four are the first at the hatch every morning, and they’re out and looking at the world before I’ve secured the hatch with a millstone we use to keep it either open or locked, so the hens and the rooster can come out during the day and the fox can’t come in during the night.

They go and smell the flowers and scratch and scrape in the dirt and take a sunbath whenever they get a chance. When they see or hear me come out of the house, it looks like they are pulling up their skirts and they come running to see if I have a special treat for them. Sometimes they just stand and look around without doing anything else, and I think they’re happy.

They also lay a lot of eggs – one each every single day – and they’ve done so since spring.

The eggs are very good, with a good hard shell and a beautiful dark orange yolk, because the hens get out and can eat whatever they want to.

As much as we appreciate their eggs, we also think the hens need a break now, because we still think they are too skinny and because it’s winter and dark. We’ve decided not to turn the lights on in the coop, not at night and not during the day, to keep the animals as natural as possible, and I at least was very interested in seeing how they would take the demise of the faverolles.

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This is what I found the next morning. Not only did each of the white Italians lay her usual eggs, one of the new Danish country hens had put her second one right next to theirs – it’s a little bit smaller and a little bit beige compared to the others.

So much for going natural. I really hope the hens are going to take a break soon.

It had to be done!

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Today was a bright and sunny, but rather cold day. It also was the last day in the lives of our 5 Faverolles roosters.

My daughter and son in law got 6 small faverolles and 2 small Sussex chickens this spring and had hoped that a few of them would turn out to be hens, but no such luck. It soon became clear that they were all roosters.

One Sussex died suddenly while they were still quite small and one of the faverolles was slaughtered and eaten as a tester a couple of month ago, but the rest enjoyed a very free life with lots of good food and the company of some nice hens.

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Lately they began making a lot of noise and started crowing around 1.30 AM, but it wasn’t because of the noise we decided to move them to our freezer, it was because they were real bullies.

Yesterday we had to interfere when we saw 3 of them going after one of our young hens, who is half the size they were. One was holding her down with his own weight, one hit her in the head with his beak and one raped her.

That was it. We teamed up with some of our friends, who came this morning, and my son in law and his friend helped each other kill the birds.

store slagtedag, per og kasper 3

I think that unless you are a psychopath, killing an animal is not something you look forward to or take lightly, and the faverolles only lived this long because we all had to get to terms with the fact that this was something that had to happen, but the boys succeeded in doing it in a peaceful and dignified way. The roosters never got scared or even realized that anything was going to happen before it was over.

slagtedag på husumgård  WP_20141206_11_25_20_Pro  WP_20141206_11_25_42_Pro

Afterwards we had to pluck their feathers, but we were enough people, so we took one each and it was over within an hour. My son in law cut them up and cleaned their insides, and four of them went in the freezer while the last became todays dinner.

store slagtedag, per og lærke

We cleaned up the place before we let the hens and the remaining Sussex rooster out. He is a much friendlier and more polite guy, and I hope that keeping him will turn out to be a great decision.

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Jays, pheasants and a mouse-eating dog

It was light, when I got up today, and outside my bedroom window a jay was enjoying some of the cereals we’d put out there for the chickens and hens.

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Jays are very shy birds, one unexpected move and they are gone, but I was very careful and lucky to get a picture of the little beauty before it flew away.

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The dogs were impatient already, so out we went, past the chicken run and other places with interesting smells, before Maggie got the scent of something next to a tree.

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It happened very fast, she just put her nose down to the ground hard and fast two or three times, and then I could see that she had something in her mouth.

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When I got to her, she spit it out and showed it to me – a little mouse – rolled it around a little with her nose, to make sure it really was dead, then hovered over it while she kept an eye on her brother, who never realized what had happened but was running around in his usual goofy way.

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I tried to take a good picture of the mouse without having to touch it, but then Maggie picked it up again and before I was able to react, chewed on it twice and swallowed it, which probably means we will have to treat her for worms sometime soon.

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Our cat took a mouse in our kitchen a few weeks ago, but there is at least one more living in there somewhere that is driving the cat crazy, because it hasn’t been able to catch it as well, so now we are all rooting for Maggie.

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We went back home, and when I was on my way out to put some more wood in the oven/central heating, a pheasant had found and was enjoying the cereals, so today was like living on discovery channel.

Chaotic mornings

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Most days my mornings are a bit chaotic. I often work late (1 or 2 or even 3 AM) and as a result I don’t get up before everybody else has left for school and work, and the house has been taken over by cats and dogs.

It happens that the dogs just wait for me patiently outside my door, especially if I remember to barricade myself before I go to sleep, but most days I forget and then the biggest of the dogs – Maddox – bumps his head against the door until it opens. It’s an old house and the doors and locks are not what they should be.

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After that his part of the job is done. He just walks through my room, sees that I am still sleeping and walks out again. Here is where the smallest of the dogs – Maggie – takes over. She comes in, looks at me and then puts her cold nose on any bare patches of skin she can find. If that doesn’t help she starts licking.

On rare occasions even the cat takes part in their conspiracy and comes in, jumps up on the bed and sits and looks at me or walks on me.

Throwing the animals out at that point doesn’t help, because once I’m  awake I’m not able to fall asleep again, so I get up, get dressed, take some chicken fodder with me, let the dogs out – sometimes also the cat – and go to see if the chicken and hens have been let out. If they haven’t, I open the hatch to the hen house while I try to teach the dogs to stay out of the chicken run. That’s not the easiest task in the world, because Maddox loves chicken poop and chicken fodder, and Maggie feels an irresistible urge to tell the hens and chicken, what they can and cannot do. She also loves to make them all run.

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After all that is sorted out the dogs, sometimes the cat, and I go for a walk down our long driveway. It lies between fields and a piece of forest, and there are pleasant smells of pheasants and dears, hares and mice for the dogs, and bushes and trees to climb for the cat.

We live in the middle of nowhere, so I don’t use leashes for the dogs, and we walk until I can see the next neighbor’s houses before we turn around and go back home.

WP_20141201_13_46_15_Pro WP_20141201_13_45_53_Pro WP_20141201_13_45_58_Pro WP_20141201_13_46_03_ProSometimes I take some pictures while we walk, and two days ago it was cold and windy, and while I looked through the lens of my mobile phone’s camera the sun came out between the clouds and changed all colors for a few seconds, before it disappeared again.

Maddox likes to run ahead of the rest of us on our way back home, because that way he can get into the chicken run and into the coop and eat some chicken fodder before I get there and tell him to stop.

Then I fetch some firewood from one of the barns and light a fire in our oven/central heating. It can take a while to make a good fire, especially if we had a cold night, and while I work on it, the dogs take a view over the garden and make sure the chicken and hens are behaving well.

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Only when I’m sure there is a good fire in the oven we go back into the house and I can get to the bathroom and in the kitchen and get some breakfast and a cup of coffee before I start working.

Living this way is very different from what I was used to until a few month ago, but it’s actually nice and all those animals make pretty good companions, and because we feed the chicken and hens several places around the house, we also have other birds coming here to see what’s on the menu. Most of them are sparrows and chickadees, but there are also a few pheasants and a bird I’d never seen before I moved out here, even so it’s said that they are quite common – a jay.

Fil82_Skovskade  The jay has very unusual colors for a bird in Scandinavia (not my picture)

I like to feed the birds in winter, even so I’m not a bird watcher, but this one is something special.

 

 

Christmas market at Gammel Estrup

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Yesterday my youngest daughter Lise, my housemate Laerke and some friends of ours went to a Christmas market in a small place called Auning. The market was held in a manor house called Gammel Estrup, which is also an agricultural museum, and I was looking very much forward to it and to taking a lot of pictures I could show to you.

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I was in good form actually and had a good start, where I got some nice pictures of the castle and of Lise, but then I got a bit too excited about a very nice ceiling decoration of festoons made from spruce and single red amaryllis flowers hanging down from it, and while I tried to take a picture of it, I dropped my phone, so it fell apart into all it’s pieces. Fortunately nothing was broken, but when I put everything together again, the phone asked me for a sim-code, which of course I didn’t have with me, so you have to take my word for it that the decoration was really beautiful.

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So, instead of taking more pictures I concentrated about looking at the market, and I actually found quite a few nice things. I also stumbled over a former prime minister of ours, the former general secretary of Nato, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who stood in front of us in line to buy some hot cocoa. It was cold outside and something hot to drink seemed like a good idea, so I went against my normal diet low in carbohydrates and got the cocoa and also some traditional fluffy Danish pancakes called aebleskiver (apple slices).

WP_20141130_14_50_13_Pro (2) WP_20141130_14_49_31_Pro WP_20141130_14_48_38_Pro WP_20141130_14_44_33_Pro WP_20141130_14_45_12_Pro  Things I bought at the market

The rest of the market we spend indoors, but on our way back to the car we saw some people taking down the Danish flags in a flag avenue leading from the public street down to the manor house. Taking down the flag is part of the law about how to handle the Danish flag Dannebrog. It’s put up after sunrise and taken down before sundown, otherwise it means you flag for the devil, and you can be sued for flagging outside the allowed time. I don’t know if anybody has been sued for it within the last 20 years, but it’s still a possibility.

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Inventions of a lifetime

Do you ever think about how much things have changed in your lifetime? Things we never thought of before, but then we got them and they have become a very important part of our lives?

When I was a child my family wasn’t rich, but my parents owned a house, so we were better off than most.

We heated that house with a coal oven in the living room and one in the kitchen. We also had one in the bathroom that was supposed to heat our bathing water, but I don’t remember it ever working. Instead of using the bath tub we used a wash tub in the laundry room, because we also had no washing machine or dryer, and several times a week after my mom did the laundry by hand we used the leftover heat to take a nice bath – mom, dad, grandma and all the children – not all at once, but in turns. I think we got the first washing machine when I was around 8.

We also had a radio but no television till I was about 8 years old, and we had no car till I was 10, but barely anybody had one at that time.

I don’t remember exactly when it was we got it, but there was a telephone in the house most of my childhood – a white one with a rotary dial.

When I was about 12 years old, I got my own transistor radio for my birthday. It was very simple, only had two buttons, but I remember how annoying it was that my dad didn’t think I would be able to use it without instructions from one of my brothers, who didn’t have a radio himself – you know, me being a girl and all. I had that radio for many years.

17 years old I moved to Hamburg to work for the national German telephone company. The biggest part of my job was to give information about telephone numbers in Germany, but I also worked with radio contact to ships out on the ocean and to what back then was the other part of Germany – DDR. To connect people, we used those tables you sometimes see in old movies, you know, where the operator first talks with the person who is calling, then calls the recipient, pushes a plug into a board to make the connection and later pulls it out again to disconnect.

We also gave information about phone numbers in other – European – countries.

Instead of phone books for Germany we had micro fiches we put into boxes that looked like what we today think is an old computer screen. That way each of us could have all the German phone books right at our desks.

For the other European countries we had no fiches but phone books, and I remember that we often had to call the other countries to get newer numbers. I especially remember calling Copenhagen in Denmark in summer, where it often happened that they only picked up the phone to tell us that they could not take the phone because they had a thunderstorm. Most telephone cables in Denmark were hanging from pole to pole over the ground at that time, and it did happen that the poles or the cables were struck by lightning, which could be fatal, if one was talking on the phone at the same time.

I think it was in the seventies and eighties that countries got international numbers, so people in one country can call people in another country without using an operator and a switch board. Some countries got their international numbers even later.

I only started high school when I was 20, and the first computer I ever worked with was a gigantic one that filled a whole room at my high school, and it had no key board and no screen. The only thing I remember we used it for was to see, if we were able to think logically. We got some questions and to answer them we had to draw lines on cards with a led pen and put the cards into a slot in the computer. After a while it told us if we were right or wrong. That was all it could do, but the computer did cost a fortune.

The first person I knew had a mobile phone was my now brother in law. About 25 years ago he worked for a phone company and sometimes he had to be on standby during weekends, so he had his mobile phone with him where ever he went. It was huge, the size of a suitcase, with a rotary dial and a hand piece of the same kind as a normal oldfashioned phone and a cable between the suitcase and the hand piece. The whole neighborhood envied my brother in law for that mobile phone.

I think it was sometime in the beginning of the nineties I was invited to a meeting where we discussed the possibilities of the internet. That was the very first I ever heard about the world wide web. Denmark wasn’t connected to it at that time, and I remember leaving the meeting with more questions than answers.  I had got my first fax machine only a few years earlier and wasn’t able to imagine in what way the internet would be different.

Around the same time I decided to drop out of university and work as a translator full time. Only problem was that until then I’d used a manual type writer and didn’t know much about computers and book keeping, so I took a year at another school to learn those things.

The operating system our computers at the school used was DOS and we used lots of macros and short cuts to get around in our programs.

Some of us had heard about something called Windows and of a mouse and cursor, but our teachers didn’t believe in it. “Those are toys” they said. “No, you learn WordPerfect and the short cuts and you will be set for life”.

At the school we also used matrix printers and the new hot thing – bubble jet printers.

A short while later I got my first dial up connection to the internet at home, but I still worked with DOS and without a mouse for a long time.

Since then I’ve worked with computers and many different programs as a supervisor, but mostly as a user, and since I rely on computers for my freelance work, I have two functioning computers.

A few months ago I also replaced my trusty old brick of a ten years old mobile phone with a new smartphone, so now I have the whole wide world at my fingertips always, and every day I’m in contact with customers of mine in other European countries, but also the US, Canada, Australia, China, India. Who would have thought it possible back in the days when I was a child?

We’ve come very far over the last 50 years. Who knows what the next 50 will bring.

It’s that time of year

Before Christmas every year I watch a long line of classics – or at least they are in my book.

Some of the movies I’ve seen since I was a child, like

It's_A_Wonderful_Life It’s a wonderful life with James Steward

and

We're no angels We’re no angels with Humphrey Bogart

Others are movies I started watching while my daughters were children like

National-Lampoons-ChristmasVacation-image-national-lampoons-christmasvacation-36345007-1280-720 Christmas Vacation with Chevy Chase

home-alone-1-poster-widescreen-2  Home alone 1

home-alone-2-lost-in-new-york-original1  Home alone 2

and

the-muppet-christmas-carol-poster  The Muppet Christmas Carol

As my daughters got older we also started watching

Die Hard 1  Die Hard 1

Die-Hard-2--Die-Harder-die-hard-62085_1024_768  Die Hard 2

And

the-long-kiss-goodnight-1996-in-hindi  The long kiss goodnight with Samuel L Jackson and Geena Davis

When the girls began watching romance movies, we added movies like

Sleepless-in-Seattle-sleepless-in-seattle-2974781-900-350  Sleepless in Seattle with Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks

while-you-were-sleeping-original-jpg  While you were sleeping with Sandra Bullock and Bill Pullman

and

love actually  Love Actually with a long line of great actors like Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson and Rowan Atkinson

The classic over them all of course is A Christmas Carol, and many have made a new version over the years.

patrickstewartscrooge_a christmas carol  I escpecially like the one with Patrick Stewart

and

a christmas carol with him carrey  the newer one with Jim Carrey

I am a big fan of Tom Hanks, so on my very own list of favorites you also find

The polar express  The Polar Express

We still keep on adding new movies to our Christmas list, and now there aren’t enough days in December anymore to watch them all, so we made an early start this year last weekend.

What about you? Do you have any absolute favorite movies you have to see around Christmas?

 

 

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