christmas

i’m more of a giver

Well, friends, we’ve reached that time after Christmas where every blogger, YouTuber, and humblebragger on social media is starting to share what they got for Christmas. Because I am more of a giver (and because I’m pre-writing this and Christmas hasn’t actually happened yet), I’m going to share a gift that I gave this year instead.

Earlier in the month, I received an email from the friendly people at Photowall. They asked if I would like to try one of their products. I saw that they offered canvas prints from your own photos and I knew my roommate mom has been wanting to get a few of my photos printed on canvas to hang in the house. to clarify – my photos meaning photos i’ve taken, not photos of me. even though both would be excellent additions to our walls.

I started a fact-finding mission to see which photo she would order first if she were to place an order. She chose one of my personal favorites so I was excited to get it ordered.

 

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i call this one my bestseller

 

The ordering process is really easy. You upload your photo, choose a size, make sure it gets cropped where you want it and then click the order button. The only thing I found was that the smallest size was 15 inches by 15 inches. It worked for me, but if you were looking for an 8×10, that’s not going to work and also, if you’re trying to use a picture from your phone, it might not be able to be blown up that big. Just something to consider.

I should also mention that if canvases aren’t your thing, they also offer wallpaper. I’m not cool enough for an accent wall, nor do I have the patience to hang wallpaper, but if I was/had more patience I’d take one of every design.And there’s alot of them. You could even have one of your photos made into wallpaper if that’s what floats your boat. I’ve already decorated my (imaginary) future children’s rooms. Every wall can be an accent wall, right? Thankfully, my (imaginary) future husband is handy and has the patience of a saint.

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for the blanche deveraux in your life.

Shipping was fast. Like, really fast. The company is based in Sweden and it took 3 days to get to my house. I’ve ordered things from Florida that took longer than that to get to me.

I also ordered the DIY frame kit because otherwise, it just comes as a rolled piece of canvas. I guess you can then frame it in a traditional frame, but then what’s the sense of canvas? Please tell me because I’m always looking for new ideas for displaying my photos. DIY sends a chill down my spine, but I figured go hard or go home.

bed photos. so profesh.

The wood frame has sticky pieces which gives the canvas something to hold on to so it could wrap. If I wasn’t doing this on my bed, I’m sure it would have taken about half the time it actually did. That being said, start to finish, the whole process took about 45 minutes and that’s with having to unstick the canvas and reposition it and having to unscrew the whole thing and reposition the corners. The best part? NO EXTRA TOOLS NEEDED. #praisebe.

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The canvas gets tighter as the frame comes together and you screw in the brackets. The whole process made me feel like Bob Villa.

And voila!

And I only broke one nail. But to be fair, I’ve been trying to grow them out after getting my powder gel removed so they aren’t in tip-top shape.

Now for the fun stuff – Photowall isn’t paying me for this post, but they did send me this goodness for free (don’t tell my mom!). They’re also giving me a coupon code so that YOU can get 20% off your order! Are you as excited as I am? Because you should be.

My (first ever!) coupon code is asplashofmimosacampaign2017. It expires on January 31, 2018, which gives you plenty of time to browse the site and place an order! (i don’t get any kickbacks if you make a purchase so no pressure! and even if i did, no pressure.)

If discounts weren’t cool enough, the company is super environmentally conscience and with every purchase, they work with VI Agroforestry to help plant trees in East Africa. It’s a win-win.

What’s the best gift you gave this year? Or ever?

Hope your holidays were filled with love, laughter and lots of cookies!

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weekend update: christmas shopping, light displays and historic houses

So, it’s Sunday night and I’m actually writing a weekend update post.

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Friday I took the day off of work so that I could uphold the tradition (and necessary evil) of going Christmas shopping with my mom, aunt, and cousins. When I say necessary evil, it’s the crowds and the pressure of getting it all done that I hate, not the company. The mall we went to had a huge Christmas tree in the middle and if anyone thought they would get out of taking a selfie in front of it while I was around, they were sadly mistaken.

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Saturday was tree day, where my mom picked out the best Christmas tree we’ve ever had. It’s tall and it’s fat. It’s like Rockefeller Center right there in my living room. The whole house smells like pine and I truly can’t understand how people can prefer fake ones. No judgment, it’s just once you go real, you know the deal. The decorating crew (my mom) hasn’t worked its magic yet but it will soon so keep checking my instagram to see it in all of its glory.

I also finally got my flu shot on Saturday because I think my father was convinced if I didn’t get it, the flu was coming for me and the strains are terrible this year, or so I’ve heard… repeatedly. It takes 2 weeks to take effect, but after that COME AT ME, FLU. I’M READY.

Saturday night, Nicole and I decided to brave the snow and take a ride over to Dyker Heights and see the lights. We couldn’t believe that there were actual tour buses parked just on the outskirts of the activity. I had heard the crowds were getting a little out of control, but I never expected designated tour bus parking areas. Anyway, we figured the snow might have kept people away, but obviously, that wasn’t the case. We did two blocks and decided to move on to another, lesser populated part of the neighborhood, whose lights are just as pretty.

I’ve shared pictures of the lights in Dyker Heights before but I’ve never gone in the snow, and I think it adds sort of a magical element. So if these look vaguely familiar, that’s why.

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I love a good light display.

Our neighborhood is home to the Lott House, which was built in the 1700’s and was rumored to have been a rest stop for George Washington at some point during the war. It was also believed to be a stop on the Underground Railroad. The house fell into disrepair somewhere in the 80’s when whoever was living there either moved or died. Finally, when I was in 7th or 8th grade, a historical society came in and started to clean up the place. That Christmas season, they did a tree lighting and invited the neighborhood into the house for a quick glimpse of a few rooms. I remember it being very dark because it was very early on into the restoration and they hadn’t done anything with the electricity yet. I remember they had set up some of the things they found in the house, like dolls and plates. I can’t confirm that they were from the time period that George Washington spent the night, but I like to think that they were.

For a while, they worked tirelessly to fix up the house and the land around it. In recent years, they’ve been holding events in the garden in the summer, they were selling tickets to see the inside of the house again during the Fall, and most recently, they had another tree lighting ceremony. I missed this one because 1) it was Friday and I was shopping and 2) I had a strong feeling that my crush from 7th grade wouldn’t be there, which was my main reason of going the first time. The magic was gone.

I took the opportunity of the snow, the dark and the absence of crowds to pass the house and get a picture of it with the tree.

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I’ve been wanting for years to write a post about the Lott House because, even if George Washington never stayed there, I still think it’s pretty cool that right here, in the middle of little old Marine Park, there’s a 300ish-year-old house that’s still standing and on its original plot of land (or some of it, at least). I keep (kept) meaning to go over and take a few pictures and then sit down and research it so I don’t sound like a blithering idiot, but none of that ever happened so consider this that post. In case I’ve piqued your interest, here’s a small article from Untapped Cities complete with a video showing some of the inside of the house.

Circling back from that tangent, my Sunday was spent reading, napping, and watching Netflix. I finished The Dollhouse by Fiona Davis. It’s a historical fiction about the Barbizon Hotel. I really enjoyed it and would definitely recommend.

And that’s all, folks!

 

What did you do this weekend? See any great light displays?

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christmas 2016 photo dump

How can Christmas be over already? I ask that every year and every year it seems to be more and more unbelievable.

Anyway, for posterity’s sake and because I love those life lately photo posts, here are some scenes from Christmas and Christmas Eve 2016!

2016 has been an all around shit storm that I am looking forward to cutting ties with. This year I took a few minutes to try and step back from the festivities and appreciate the people in the room. As long as we have each other, I think we’ll be OK – no matter what 2017 (and beyond) throws at us.

Hope your holiday was great and filled with love, food and good people. I’ll probably see you before the new year, but if I don’t, may it be happy and healthy, always.

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christmas carpool

Can you believe Christmas is in 5 days? I sure can’t. I wanted to share with you not one but TWO early Christmas gifts I got and am googly eyed over.

And they’re from a celebrity!

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I kid. I kid. They’re the newest Carpool Karaoke segments from one of my many celebrity husbands, James Corden.

Last Tuesday he released the long-awaited (for me, anyway) Bruno Mars collab. It was, as expected, amazing. My favorite part was when James said that his woman wouldn’t be wearing Versace, she’d be wearing Target. ya damn right, boo.

Then, on Thursday, Jimmy dropped the All I Want for Christmas is You mix. As I’ve mentioned before, Lisa and I were big Mariah fans back in the 90’s and we usually incorporated this gem into our act at the various Christmas parties/ Girl Scout meetings we attended. we still do. she’s going to kill me.  My point is that our invitation must have gotten lost in the mail but, speaking for both of us I’ll say, we’re being good sports about it and will enjoy from afar. Maybe next year.

Also, Nick Jonas- what the hell, man? EVERYONE knows this song, what’s your issue? Google that shit. Make an effort.

That’s all I got today, kids. I’m off to wrap gifts.

 

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mar & dar’s christmas train

Last week, my mom and I played my favorite game of tourist and took a ride into the big city to see the tree and the lights of midtown. It wouldn’t be Christmas around these parts if I didn’t have at least one post with pictures of crowds of people, lights, over the top decorations and probably a taxi or two. This time you aren’t getting any taxis, but I think I got everything else covered.

We wanted to hit Macy’s first and work our way up to Rockefeller, but for whatever reason we decided to forego 34th Street and go straight to the epicenter of Christmas. the tree, if you didn’t know.

Saks was the first stop on the Mar and Dar Christmas train and, without being too dramatic, I was in awe. Maybe it’s the kid in me, maybe I get distracted too easily by bright colors and sparkly things (true and true), whatever it is, Saks made me smile immediately.

No trip to 5th Avenue would be complete without a stop at Saint Pat’s so that’s where we headed next. They weren’t all Christmassed out yet but SPC is a beaut with or without poinsettias and greenery.

By the time we lit some candles and doused ourselves in holy water it was time to get a move on. The sky was a bit ominous and we weren’t prepared for rain. The tree was our next stop. Tourist central. We felt right at home.

The best thing about going so early in the season is that even though there are crowds, they’re not unbearable. Last year I was walking down 5th Ave with my mom, my aunt and my cousins. We got sucked into the crush between 47th and 50th Street. Behind me, in the throng, a woman say, to no one in particular, “This must thin out near the tree”. this poor tourist, I thought. I turned as much as the crowd would allow, chuckled and said, “um. try 52nd Street.” She gasped. I smiled. And another Christmas memory was made.

Our final stop was Bryant Park. I love Christmas in Bryant Park. There’s so much going on but it’s not crazy. The shopping, the eating, the skating- you can’t go wrong. Even if you’re like me and only eat and shop. I wanted to get to Bryant Park because I saw on Instagram that Melsy’s Illustrations was going to be there and I wanted to check out her stuff in person.

My mom and I walked around, checking out the other booths, trying to get some giftsipration and because try as we might, it’s been tough getting into the Christmas spirit this year. For me, it’s no other reason except it’s all going too fast. There’s only 16 days until Christmas, guys. 16 days. i can’t.

Finally, we found the Melsy’s Illustrations booth. I love her Instagram, but I loooove her stuff in person. It’s all so me. Anyway, her booth was busy and space is at a premium so my mom and I waited outside until it calmed down a bit. While we were waiting a woman came over to tell us that all of the available illustrations were in the binder near the door, if we wanted to look while we wait. We started talking and it turns out that nice lady was Jamel’s mom. She told us that this was her passion and she finally took the plunge, quit her 9-5 job and starting doing this full time. #goals. 

I seriously loved everything in her shop, but I finally decided on this one. I’m going to hang it over my computer for inspiration. blogspiration, if you will. follow my passionspiration, if you also will. 

Mine is a brunette, because after I eventually get my grays covered and highlights toned, so am I.

I also fell in love with this one because a bun is my go-to “I want to feel like a Kardashian” look. And my “get this mop off of my neck” look. It’s so versatile.

 

Her mom was so nice and had the best Boston accent. My mom mentioned my love of photography and, in true mom fashion, they started talking about us and how it’s great that we have things that we love to do and do well at.

click this photo to go over to the Melsy’s Illustrations Etsy page! she didn’t ask me to link it or anything, i just really like her stuff and wanted to share!

The booth traffic finally let up enough for me and my mom to go in and meet Jamel. She couldn’t have been nicer, seriously. I told her I follow her on Instagram and she was so appreciative. As we were leaving, they mentioned getting the truffle fries from the homefrite booth. Naturally, the Mar and Dar Christmas train had to make a pitstop. 

I told my mom I needed to incorporate these and the lemon garlic aioli into my everyday diet. She gave me THE LOOK, I rolled my eyes and another Christmas memory was made.

Our last stop was Lord and Taylor’s windows. These are usually my favorites but this year, I’m not gonna lie, I wasn’t impressed. It was an enchanted forest theme (yass!), which when done right, could be amazing. I’m not sure if the windows weren’t totally done or what, but there were some things that were lacking. Mainly, they had “The Enchanted Forest” written on the bottom of each window, but on at least one of the windows, it looked like it was either coming off or it wasn’t put on correctly. Either way, they were really cute and Lord and Taylor still wins in my book. I’m sure they were super concerned about my opinion and couldn’t wait to get my verdict.

As much as I wanted to push my mom to either Uber down to Macy’s or up to Bergdorfs, I was ready to go home, get in my pajamas and finish the Gilmore Girls revival – which is exactly what we did.

photo dump: better late than never!

How has Christmas come and gone already? I hope everyone’s holiday was great. Filled with lots of love, food and presents. I just wanted to share two things. One is a really quick “aww” moment and the other is a collection of pictures I took before the holiday that I hadn’t gotten a chance to post until now. Better late than never, right?

So, the aww moment happened on Christmas morning. My mom’s aunt, who is either in her late 80’s or early 90’s called to wish my family a Merry Christmas. After my mom filled her in a bit on her siblings and asked for her cousin, Aunt Margie asked about me and my cousins. Being the cute, little old school Italian lady that she is, she wanted to know if I had a boyfriend. Normally I’d have to roll my eyes at this question. Except when it’s from an adorable aunt. She didn’t ask my mom outright if I had a boyfriend or if I was seeing somebody, the way she put it was “Is Martina keeping company with anybody?” Is she not the cutest? First of all, I love older phrases like that. Like pillbox hats and ballgowns with gloves; very vintage. Second, it’s so to the point. It’s not like the term “hooking up”, which means 100 different things depending on who you ask. Anyway, I just thought it was cute and thought I’d share.

Next are some pictures I took last week when I was in the city (yes, again). Basic stuff. Bryant Park, the tree, candles at Saint Patrick’s (i have to go back. i got kicked out because a mass was starting), a Christmas Village in the basement of an ornament store. Good stuff. sidenote: what better place for a Christmas village than an ornament store? this year was the first year and i really think they should keep it going. until it gets mobbed and noone could breathe or move down there.

The village was really cute. I got tickets on Groupon for $15. Totally worth it. They were originally $30. I probably wouldn’t go that high. Or if I paid full price I would have been a little disappointed. I mean, it was cute but it was literally in the basement of an ornament store. It wasn’t a show or anything, just a quick (or slow) walk-through.

How was your Christmas? Did Santa treat you well?

Let’s discuss!

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Merry Christmas Eve, my darlings! I figured right now is as good a time as any to share my Christmas card with you. As much as I would love to have been able to send one individually to each an every one of you, postage is ridiculously high and my paychecks are ridiculously low.

I don’t know what happened when I scanned it but the real card is not this grainy. I tried to fix it as much as I could but I’m not a miracle worker.

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Like last year, I made this at Cardstore. They are a part of American Greetings and also like last year, I love them. I’m already planning next year’s masterpiece.

Hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas Eve and, if I don’t make it back here like I’m planning to, I hope you have the merriest of Christmases!

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Christmas Favorites!

Guys, we’re in the home stretch. 5 days till Christmas and 12 days until 2016. crazypants.

Anywhoo, last year I did a Christmas survey so I figured I’d do one this year too because, tradition.

I’m borrowing this one from Libby at Honestly, Libby. I use the term borrow very loosely because I can’t give it back. I can tell you to go over and read hers though, which you definitely should. So, when you’re done here go straight there. I’m not kidding.

I’m also borrowing the u in favorite because it’s fun and makes me feel super posh. Now on with the show.

What are your Favourite Christmas colors?
Anything that sparkles, for the win.

PJ’s or fancy dress of Christmas day?
My family has (very frustratingly) made every holiday a “dress sweats” holiday. Dress sweats, if you aren’t familiar, are the nicest pair of sweatpants/track suit that you won. It irks the ever loving shit out of me. So this year, I’m going to wear a skirt and a nice top. And I’ll probably bring my dress sweats for when dinner is over because I could only be ladylike for so long.

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Presents on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning?
Christmas morning. The anticipation thrills me.

Stay home or go away?
Stay home as in I stay in the tri-state area. I go over the river and through the woods to Staten Island for Christmas dinner.

Favourite part of the Christmas meal?
The part where I say to myself “a new year starts in a week, so could your diet” and I eat the extra ravioli.

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Favourite Holiday treat?
All of them.

Dream Christmas Location?
LONDON. I’d take Italy also. But really, why would I leave New York at Christmas time? (because London and Italy – that’s why.)

Pro-present wrapper?
In my dreams.

Favourite Reindeer?
Blitze(d)n.

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Favourite Cracker Toy?
Are crackers like stockings? In that case, Reeses Trees. If they aren’t, then I’m going to “borrow” Libby’s answer and say jewelry because who would say no to sparkly wearables?

Favourite Christmas Decoration?
I love wreaths. The heavily decorated ones. And double points if they have lights.

Can you name all of the Reindeer?
Yes! Sneezy, Sleepy, Bashful, Dopey, Grumpy, Bashful, and Doc. Wait…

Weirdest gift you ever got?
My father always gets me one of those shirts with wolves howling at the moon on them. I don’t know why because I’ve never had any sort of fascination with wolves. One year I mentioned that I thought otters were cute so instead of wolves I got an otter family shirt. Thank God for bottom drawers.

Favourite Christmas Memory?
I have so many. Going to church with my grandma on Christmas Eve, opening presents on Christmas morning with my parents and then Christmas afternoon with the rest of my family, getting letters from Santa, checking to see if he came and if Rudolph ate his carrot. SO MANY.

Favourite Christmas Carol?
The entire NSYNC Home for the Holidays album, All I want for Christmas is You, It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas, the song from Home Alone 2 when Kev and his mom are reunited.

Favourite Christmas Movie?
I wrote about some of them here but there are so many more. I’ll just go with basically every one ever made. Except those claymation Rudolph and Friends ones. Ugh.

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And that’s about it, folks. If you do this survey, please tag me so I can see it!

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movie night: christmas edition!

One of the things that I love most about the Christmas season is the movies that it produces. I haven’t been able to sit and watch any this year because for whatever reason, my attention span is nonexistent. thanks, social media. When I do get a chance to have a good old fashioned Christmas movie marathon, I definitely have my must sees. I feel like I should mention that I’ve never seen A Christmas Story and I don’t really like Elf (or Will Ferrell but that’s besides the point) gasp! So without further ado, I present Martina’s Merry Movie Marathon!

I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned this one before, but it’s just not Christmas for me without it.

1. Miracle on 34th Street (1994)

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This movie is downright magical. Susan gets a house, a dad and a baby brother for God sake! But seriously, it’s set in New York, natch. Its got a modern yet very vintage feel. And the lighting! Or whatever it was to make everything have some sort of diffused glow to it. Downright ethereal. I wanted to be Susan Walker. I still kind of do. She lives in an apartment on Central Park West *swoon*, she’s smart, she eventually moves to a beautiful house upstate (I’d keep the apartment for fun-sies), and SANTA CLAUSE is her BFF. Who wouldn’t want to be Susan Walker? Also, can I just say that I truly believe that the 80’s and 90’s would be a horrible time if John Hughes wasn’t around to make movies. He is sorely missed.

2. Home Alone 2: Lost in New York

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Another Christmas in New York (in the 90s) classic. I don’t know what’s going on with Mac these days, but back then, man, I would have loved to have been his best friend. Actually, no. I probably would have been to scared with the Wet/Sticky bandits breaking into my house and then chasing me all over New York City. I did, however have a Talkboy on my wish lists for every gift giving event for at least two years. i’m still waiting, MOM. One thing that’s bothered me for years though – what time was it when Kevin’s mom found him at the tree? It is NEVER that empty. John Hughes brings that movie magic uhh-gain.

3. The Holiday

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This movie,to me, is criminally underrated. To be honest, I don’t really like Cameron Diaz or Jack Black so when I first saw it I didn’t have high hopes. But then my girl Kate hit us with this nugget of wisdom and I fell in love.

I’ve found almost everything ever written about love to be true. Shakespeare said “Journeys end in lovers meeting.” What an extraordinary thought. Personally, I have not experienced anything remotely close to that, but I am more than willing to believe Shakespeare had. I suppose I think about love more than anyone really should. I am constantly amazed by its sheer power to alter and define our lives. It was Shakespeare who also said “love is blind”. Now that is something I know to be true. For some quite inexplicably, love fades; for others love is simply lost. But then of course love can also be found, even if just for the night. And then, there’s another kind of love: the cruelest kind. The one that almost kills its victims. Its called unrequited love. Of that I am an expert. Most love stories are about people who fall in love with each other. But what about the rest of us? What about our stories, those of us who fall in love alone? We are the victims of the one sided affair. We are the cursed of the loved ones. We are the unloved ones, the walking wounded. The handicapped without the advantage of a great parking space! Yes, you are looking at one such individual. And I have willingly loved that man for over three miserable years! The absolute worst years of my life! The worst Christmas’, the worst Birthday’s, New Years Eve’s brought in by tears and Valium. These years that I have been in love have been the darkest days of my life. All because I’ve been cursed by being in love with a man who does not and will not love me back. Oh god, just the sight of him! Heart pounding! Throat thickening! Absolutely can’t swallow! All the usual symptoms.

We’ve all been there. We’ve all been ready to just pick up and run away for a little while. I looked into that home sharing website and then I realized that I already shared my home – with my parents. So I was going nowhere, fast. And nothing goes smoothly for my family so I’d probably get there and pull up to a vacant lot or I’d get thrown into human trafficking. Better safe than sorry.

4. The Christmas Toy

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Does anyone else remember this one? Rugby, Mew, Apple and that bitch, Meteora. It’s kind of a sad, slightly inappropriate children’s movie but aren’t all of the good ones? If you don’t remember I’ll quickly give you a run down. The toys figure out that it’s Christmas Eve and that in the morning new toys will be replacing them. Rugby, who replaced Apple but conveniently forgets that fact, wants to kick Meteora out of her box so that he will be unwrapped on Christmas morning and will always be loved by his person (Jenny? Katie? I don’t remember). The only hiccup is that if a toy is seen by a person outside of the playroom, it gets frozen (it essentially dies- see? slightly inappropriate.) Eventually, Rugby, Mew and all the toys figure out that their people will always love them. Well, until they get a cellphone. Or, since it’s the late 80’s, a beeper. It’s kind of like Toy Story but with Muppets.

This list doesn’t even begin to cover all of my favorites. Others include: PeeWee’s Christmas, Ebbie, Anything on Hallmark, To Grandmother’s House We Go (who doesn’t love the Olsen twins?). Christmas at Eureeka’s Castle! The list could go on for days.

What are your favorites?

Let’s discuss!

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