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Christmas Perfection

Christmas Perfection

Image credit: Christmas Perfection, 2018.

“Okay campers, rise and shine, and don’t forget your booties ’cause it’s COOOOLD out there today…” Wait, wrong movie. I got confused because Christmas Perfection (Download) is basically a Christmas-themed version of Groundhog Day. If it weren’t for all the charming accents, I’d start to wonder if this actually takes place in Punxsutawney instead of Ireland.

Christmas Perfection is a delightful surprise within a crowded holiday landscape of milquetoast heroes and low-stakes plots. Our hero Brandon has a scrawny, Ben Whishaw appeal, and it’s easy to picture him standing beside you in a real-life grocery store, looking for the herb goat cheese. Our heroine Darcy is the classic STRESSED AT THE HOLIDAYS-type; a perfectionist who can’t handle it when her holiday doesn’t align with the picture she had in her head. Through the powers of a magical miniature holiday village, she’s transported to a small town in Ireland, where every day is Christmas, and it’s the perfect Christmas she always dreamed of. Except, even perfection gets old after a while. A girl can only take so many gingerbread cookies, cute red-headed children, and Lego-haired Stepford boyfriends; eventually she needs something different. Enter Brandon, her lifelong friend who also transports to the Irish village and helps her see that perfection isn’t everything. I was skeptical about this hero at first, but the actors’ chemistry is off the charts, particularly in one steamy foot-rub/yule log scene. Things get worse before they get better, and there’s even a Groundhog Day-esque moment with the smashed alarm clock (alas, no Sonny & Cher), but eventually Darcy realizes the most perfect Christmas is an imperfect one.

If you’ve got a bottle of Bailey’s sitting around, here is your chance to use it. The thing I’ve noticed with these TV Christmas movies is that there’s usually romance, but never any sex. If you want an Orgasm, you’ll have to make it happen yourself with this cocktail.

Orgasm

1 ½ oz Bailey’s Irish Cream liqueur

1 ½ oz Amaretto

1 ½ oz Coffee Liqueur

Aztec Chocolate bitters

Combine Bailey’s, Amaretto, and Coffee Liqueur in a shaker with ice. Shake until chilled, then strain into a glass with ice. Top with Aztec bitters.

Orgasm

I’ll admit, I saw a lot of myself in this heroine. I too like to play with miniatures, and go to painstaking efforts to decorate my dollhouse exactly the same way every year. I enjoy creating a world where everything is perfect, where not even a tiny Christmas card is out of place. Meanwhile, my real house is full of chaos and warmth; of memories and mistakes. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. Cheers!

The Family Stone

the-family-stone

Image credit: The Family Stone, 2005

It happened again this year-  I found myself getting sucked down the Hallmark Christmas movie wormhole. I tell myself I’ll just watch this one about a single mom who has sworn off men but then meets the love of her life working at a soup kitchen (it’s always a soup kitchen), until 6 hours later I’m wrapped up in a blanket cocoon, cookie crumbs everywhere, weeping as fake snow falls around yet another happy couple in chunky sweaters (it’s always a chunky sweater). Clearly, I’m in need of something to wean me off of this TV movie crack. To that end, I’ll be watching The Family Stone (DVD/Download). It’s got the lighthearted romance I crave, mixed with the gravitas of a cancer-subplot that tugs at the heartstrings. But also, it includes some intelligent conversations about world cultures and gay rights. I like to think of this one as Hallmark for the liberal elite.

The Family Stone stars Sarah Jessica Parker as an uptight career gal who is brought home to meet her boyfriend’s family at Christmas.  From the NPR-tote bag-carrying little sister played by Rachel McAdams, to the funky jewelry/Coldwater Creek-wearing mom played by Diane Keaton, The Family Stone is full of lofty ideals and snarky judgement. To be fair, Parker’s character says some pretty abominable things when she gets nervous and backed into a corner, but still- tough crowd. Luckily Luke Wilson is around to lighten up the mood, as well as Craig T. Nelson in his typical gentle giant patriarch role. There are some fun moments where SJP finally lets her “freak flag fly”, but then- cancer (it’s always cancer).

The house in this film is meant to evoke all the warm fuzzies.  It’s messy, full of love, and big enough for a crowd.   And what is the perfect thing to drink at a New England holiday gathering?  Pumpkin Spice Lattes of course! I’m making mine a little boozy because family get-togethers can be rough. While watching The Family Stone, I recommend drinking a Spiked Pumpkin Spice Latte.

Spiked Pumpkin Spice Latte

5 cups strong brewed coffee

3 cups milk

½ cup heavy whipping cream

½ cup Bourbon

½ cup Bailey’s Irish Cream

¼ cup canned pure pumpkin

1/3 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Whipped cream topping

In a slow cooker, mix all ingredients except the whipped cream topping. Stir with a whisk until well combined. Cover and cook on High setting 2 hours, stirring once after an hour. Serve in mugs, and top with whipped cream and additional pumpkin pie spice.

spiked-psl

This would be a great drink to serve on Christmas morning when you’re opening gifts and settling in for a lazy day with food and family.  Or, you could be like me and make a whole pot for yourself, not realizing until you’re 3 Hallmark movies in that you’ve consumed a week’s worth of heavy cream and alcohol.  Whatever works for you and yours.  Cheers!