Friday Filler – TSTO Covers All of the Best of Christmas…Almost

Let’s be real here…You don’t raise five kids, especially five DAUGHTERS, without a ton of their influence rubbing off on you.  But, the fact is, the best traditions are those that grow from the love of family, a sense of gratitude, and an annual chance at redemption.

Ah…so yes…this is already starting to sound like Marge’s story in this really wonderful Christmas event.  But, of course for anyone who is paying close attention, and has a modicum of Pop Culture knowledge, you will realize that it is really a parody of the surprisingly warmhearted and sweet,  “The Family Man” starring  Nicolas Cage, Téa Leoni, and Don Cheadle.  This is one of Cage’s best roles, unless you’d rather see him drink himself to death in “Leaving Las Vegas.” Even though I have had a “thing” for Elizabeth Shue since “the Karate Kid”, and she is super hot in “Leaving Las Vegss,” when it comes to Christmas movies, I have to go with Cage and Leoni in “The Family Man.”  She is sooooo cute in this movie….but I digress.

Getting back to Christmas traditions, “The Family Man” is one of the movies that we watch every year…which is a growing list, that now requires a spread sheet to cover adequately. I’m not kidding. But, more on that later.

So, I was very pleased to see Marge playing the role of “Jack” and then maybe even “Scrooge” in her TSTO Chapter, “Paramours of Christmas Past.”
The storyline is the same…mostly.  According to IMDB, the plot for “the Family Man” is, “A fast-lane investment broker, offered the opportunity to see how the other half lives, wakes up to find that his sports car and girlfriend have become a mini-van and wife.” That really isn’t a great description of the journey that “Jack” takes to realize what he gave up by pursuing a path to “Having It ALL!” In fact, it should be, “a high power investment weasel has a chance to make the right decision to find true happiness and love.”  But, Marge says it better. 

The Dialogue in this act is actually a better description. Here are some excerpts.

Ned: Marge, my beautiful fiancée! Ready to jet off to the Bahamas for a snowless, un-Christmas-y holiday?
Homer: Whoa, whoa, whoa. You’re marrying Flanders in this story?!
Marge: The heroine ALWAYS starts out engaged to the wrong man. Respect the formula! …..Oh, how I hate Christmas, ever since I hardened my heart and took a high-powered job of some kind in the city. But I must return to my hometown to help my mother run the family Christmas tree farm for the next few weeks.
Ned: Won’t you be miserable, surrounded by all that snow and Christmas cheer?
Marge: Don’t worry. I’m sure I won’t rediscover the magic of Christmas. Or fall back in love with the man I was always meant to be with.
Ned:Uh, who said anything about another man?

So…the stage is set for Marge to figure out that she was always intended for a more simple, happier life, with Homer.

But not before she struggles with her “inner Marge” to justify her previous choices.
Marge: Mom, how could you hire my ex-fiancé to work at our family business?
Mrs. Bouvier: Well, I wouldn’t have had to if YOU still held Christmas in your heart. But noooooo!
Marge: I discovered a better world. A world of business, and misplaced priorities, and boyfriends who don’t understand the real me!
Mrs. Bouvier: What do you even do? You’ve never bothered to tell me!
Marge:  Isn’t it enough to know that it stresses me out, and I think that makes me happy, but it’s actually killing me inside?!

And the story continues…with Marge trying to fight off her urges to embrace the Christmas Spirit and end up with her “intended true love,” Homer.  But, not until the writers go a tad off the rails and mix, “A Christmas Carol” into the storyline, with a visit from “the Ghost from Christmas Past.”

I know this should bother me. But it doesn’t.  The fact is, it is a perfect mix-mash of a couple of our favorite movies that have become tradition here

And coincidentally, Ali, our “high power fashion executive” daughter who works for GAP Inc. in San Francisco,  is home right now for the holidays with her “true love,” husband Ryan. And, she is the MOST driven to make sure that every holiday tradition is the letter.

I wasn’t kidding about the spreadsheet. So determined is she to show Ryan a “Traditional Miller Christmas,” that she literally made a spreadsheet of activities, meals, and movies that we are going to see, do, and experience over the 6 days they are here.  And, as the Jacob Marley says to Scrooge in “A Christmas Carol,”  “It is a ponderous list…

I kid you not, she has no fewer than 9 “must see” movies, several albums to listen to, and an almost endless list of “places to go, places to eat, and things to do.”  We are just along for Ali’s ride.  Maddy and Josh are in the mix starting tonight…hold on.

But, today is “Caramel Corn” day. It’s the day when I dedicate 16 hours to making 40 batches of Caramel Corn (Uncle Patty’s Korn) for friends and family.  Tomorrow is the annual “Miller gift exchange,” where we exchange small gifts with extended family (most of whom are my progeny!), and then the countdown to Christmas begins!

And then…a couple of days after Christmas, Deb and I hop on a plane and head to New Jersey/New York, to do it all over again with a delayed Christmas and New Year’s celebration with Katie, her Ryan, his boys, and new our little angel, Jake!

I’ll turn 65 on New Years…and will celebrate away from home, for the first time in 65 years.  Because family comes first.  We’ll find a way to watch football, and eat my favorite meal of home-made hamburgers and Deb’s potato salad.

It is all part of the season of “redemption.”  Because each year, as I am surrounded by my amazing family, 5 daughters, and 7 grandkids, I too am thankful that I took the course that “Jack” did, or does eventually…

Early in my career, after winning an Emmy for the Claymation Christmas Celebration, I could have moved to Hollywood, and most of what we have today would not have existed.  I’m smart enough to know that.  I was also smart enough to realize that I hated SoCal, because nothing about Hollywood or Southern California felt like a place where traditional family life could thrive.  I was raised with simple traditions, and nothing in Hollywood is simple…or for that matter, real. (my apologies to everyone who lives there…and is still chasing the dream).

Can you “have it all?”  Maybe. But I think it is a very rare thing to balance family and fortune. Hopefully, you end up knowing that the relationships you have with your kids and grandkids are immeasurably more valuable.

But, maybe I’m just trying to justify why I made those choices, and still feel like I have so much to give back to a world that has blessed me with incalculable gifts in this life.

It’s no wonder that so many of the movies we love, and will watch this Christmas season are stories of redemption, and people realizing their true selves.

Here’s Ali’s “Must See” list… in order of how we will watch them…including the last two on Christmas Eve.

1. A Christmas Story (We watched it last night…Ralphie Didn’t Shoot his eye out”
2.  Claymation Christmas Celebration (Ryan had never seen it…it’s short…last night).
3.  Miracle on 34th St (It is a CLASSIC…and Ryan still works for Macy’s)
4. A Family Man (for all of the reason above)
5. Home Alone (even more fun since we visit NYC regularly now)
6. The Santa Clause (Tim Allen’s best role ever)
7. Bad Santa (because you have to offset Tim Allen with Billy Bob Thorton..and the fat kid is a perfect replacement for Clarence in It’s a Wonderful Life…for a hapless lunk, who converts a Scrooge to a giver)
8. It’s A Wonderful Life (The original…with Jimmy Stewart and the gorgeous Donna Reed)
9.  The George C Scott version of “A Christmas Carol” (The absolute best version ever…period…hands down…no arguments please).

If we have time…Mr Magoo’s Christmas.
On Christmas Day, We are planning to see “Mary Poppins.”

The BEST of the BEST of this list are movies about redemption. Men and women who figure out what is really best about this life… With the exception of “Ralphie” in Home Alone, (who gets a pass for being so cute), they all are stories of people who find the real joy in life, by getting a taste of what life would be without family, friends and tradition.

Yes. It is insanely busy.  Yes…my feet and back are going to ache tonight after making the Caramel Corn.  But, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Christmas is a time for family…and giving thanks for what we have…not what we think we want to be happy.

So, be happy. Count your blessings.  Put down your padular devices. Enjoy the season…no matter how. or if you worship, GIVE THANKS!

 This truly is “A Wonderful Life!”

***PS…on a more personal and somber note… I have a favor to ask all of you who believe in the power of prayer or positive intention…
A dear friend of mine has just been diagnosed with an aggressive form of abdominal cancer, and has already started chemo. Please pray that the tumor goes away. She is the kind of person this world needs. Creative, wonderful, and talented. Let’s pray for a Christmas miracle. Thanks! 

31 responses to “Friday Filler – TSTO Covers All of the Best of Christmas…Almost

  1. Greetings, I haven’t been around much this Dec and must reply to your post. First and foremost, nothing but positive feelings towards your friend since collective thinking can move mountains! Add a heaping helping of laughter with a pinch of sarcasm, (this is where you come in) nothing but good will come of this temporary roadblock. Besides, she has YOU on her team!!! Second, just the other night I was telling Michele about your Christmas display you made years ago for your girls and told her how fun it would be to make cutouts from Mr. Magoos Christmas Carol. She said nobody would get it. That’s the point I said, only the very cool people would. MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL!

  2. I absolutely LOVE Family Man. I’m going to check On Demand today to see if it’s available. I thought of Sweet Home Alabama myself and it is formulaic, but the reason it is is because it works. My husband too could/would have been a much fiscally richer man had he stayed on his trajectory in Cali instead of moving to WA, but he wouldn’t have his daughter Hannah that we love so much, and chances are we wouldn’t be together either. I wouldn’t trade our modest home for the biggest mansion in Hollywood. I’ll buy a Powerball tix a couple times a year when the jackpot is huge to dream big a couple days but the secret is I don’t
    think I really want that kind of money and the life changes it would bring.
    It’s A Wonderful Life is on big screen in a local theatre here and we plan to see it. My birthday is also coming up this week, and while I used to do Sushi each year, a few years back my husband got me to break my self imposed tradition with something different, now I seek something experiential. I found a movie theater that has booths, serves food and drink (not too much $ thanks to aforementioned upcoming vet bills) and will be playing Sound of Music. Hannah loves musicals and will love it takes place in Austria, sounds like audience participation is encouraged like sing a long. It should be fun.
    Merry Christmas Every One! Hope you had a beautiful Chanukah, peaceful Ramadan, joyful Kwaanzaa, celebratory Festivus, righteous none of the above- whatever your preference, I wish you well.
    PS Patric- respect you more all the time. Lighting a candle for your friend. I too believe in the power of a group of people focusing their energy towards having a positive impact (or negative, depending- all these dystopian future movies and people focusing their attention? Another topic for another day) I’m going to ask the same of our community. My manager at work that I love a lot , as does everybody is undergoing surgery 1/9 for chronic sinus problems and going to be out work for a while following, in addition she has suffered nerve damage following a car accident that despite many, many tests doctors can’t locate the source and can’t treat. She still works her butt off, her whole family does. If you will, fellow tappers, send some white light to some famous initials, J.C. to my friend here for diagnosis and healing. Much love my fellow tappers. 💞

  3. I hope your friend gets her Christmas miracle Patric, I’m also asking for a couple of them. Hopefully 2019 will be better for those we care about who have endured a very tough 2018.

  4. Partric, with all that about leaving the quest for fame and fortune to spend your life with family, friends and tradition, my respect level for you just grew another 4 or 5 notches. Prayers for you and especially your friend. Merry
    Christmas to all at TSTO Addicts!!!

  5. Patric, you don’t have to publish this, or can edit out the religious stuff if it’s too much. I just wanted to reach out and say this from my heart: Praying for your friend, because you asked. Every four hours as I open TSTO, and this morning at my bedside like a child, making it more special and real to me. I don’t pray like that that much, but you asked. Let her know you got strangers from all over to send her love, and she is not alone. We all have loved ones who have battled cancer or have had it ourselves, or other health wars. I pray for healing and also that this holiday season be full of meaningful blessings for her and her family and friends, including you. I do believe that there is a Creator God who wants us to know his heart, and that He loved us all so much he made sure we could find him and everlasting life in all kinds of stories, if we wanted. To me, to believe in Christ as a babe in the manger and risen Savior—literally or figuratively—is to believe that the character of the mysterious, magical, amazing God is truly humble and embodies our infinite worth to him, and demonstrates to us dummies real love. Whatever the challenges (from someone who has had plenty), may any doubts be displaced with a special belief that creates a fear-conquering hope, a faith that God is trustworthy to keep us forever because that’s how he faithfully rolls, and that lead to some miracles—big and small, whether obvious or not. <3

  6. Prayers for your friend, Patric, that her health returns with the longer days. <3
    Thank you to all the TSTO Team for keeping us all laughing and playing our silly game! Here's to the New Year, may it bring peace and prosperity to all.

  7. Heather Fancy Rosengren


  8. Patric,
    I’m a true believer in the power of prayer. I’ve experienced myself many years ago. I’ll try make this as short as possible. I have a neurological disease (genetic) called neurofibromatosis. A lot of people never heard of it ( some say the elephant man had it along with another condition). It causes fibrous tumors fo grow anywhere internally and externally on the body, anywhere nerves are. They are extremely painful, can cause various forms of disability and can become cancerous.
    I was in the hospital facing one of over fifty plus surgeries I have had. I had a brain tumor and the doctor wavered back and forth over the course of days on weather to operate or not because doing so could cause more problems then not operating.
    The night before the surgery a nurse came to my room and said my mom had been admitted to the hospital through the emergency room and her condition was not good. I immediately checked myself out and went to her. A couple weeks later I had a new MRI and CAT scan done to see how my tumor was doing and to reschedule my surgery. (During this waiting period, my sister sent me a prayer cloth that her whole church had prayer over for my situation). When the new tests came in, my tumor had shrunk so much I didn’t need the surgery!!! TRUE STORY. I never did get the surgery. I have some signs it’s still there, headaches, deafness in one ear etc. but it’s never gotten the size it once was.
    So my prayers will go out to your friend and I’ll pass the request along.

  9. Hey there… Way OT, but my game is ‘updating’ every time I start and then redownloading the ENTIRE 1.1 GB. It’s done that like twice in the past month, but now it’s doing it every time.


    PS… Cage in raising Arizona and Face/Off.

  10. See the string of lights around the Xmas tree farm? That’s what we want as a decoration, so we can put strings of lights up around town

  11. Thanks, Patric, for sharing your moments with us. Here in Italy Christmas isn’t Christmas without watching Trading Places 😂

  12. Just wanted to send good thoughts and prayers to your friend, Patric. I read this site almost daily and wanted to thank all who contribute their time to it. I always enjoy your Friday commentaries, Patric, and wish you Alissa, Safi, Wookie, and everyone else a great Holidays and Haooy New Year.

  13. Another well written article, Sir (as someone who formally worked at Paramount / Raleigh Studios? I know how it feels to take a path out of Hollywood Babylon once the grind got to me). 👍

    I trust you (and other Tappers) will find that balance between enjoying this Game App … and spending the Holidays with Family / Friends. So grateful this is a non-grinder Christmas – and with that? Prayers for good health as you requested, Sir.

    Solstice Moon / Solstice Meteor Shower 🌝🌠

  14. Merry Christmas Patric! And an early Happy Birthiday!. I believe. And I believe in Christmas miracles. Wishing you and your family and your friend, a wonderful Christmas.

  15. Scrooged is great, so is Elf. A Christmas Story? Of COURSE! Same with the original Grinch, and Rudolph. Recently we’ve added the Bob’s Burgers Christmas episodes to our family watch list. 😁
    Every time they come out with a new video format Mom gets new copies of It’s A Wonderful Life and Miracle On 34th St. 😉
    Merry Christmas to All!
    May you all be safe in your travels, and prayers for all.
    Off topic, but my fav Nick Cage movie has got to be Face/Off.

  16. Family man is NC’s best. Followed by Weatherman

    You forgot National Lampoon’s Christmas vacation…?

    Merry Christmas, health and happiness to your family and your Friend. And the entire TSTO community!

    Thanks for all you Head addicts do!

  17. We have a list of must-sees too….
    Mickeys Christmas Carol(love love love!!!)
    Claymation Christmas(love love love!!!)
    Garfields Xmas special
    Charlie Brown Xmas(of course)
    Year without a Santa Claus(whoa whoa whoa…no can do Mrs. C…)
    Rudolph(no brainer)
    Elf (over and over again….)
    Marge be not Proud
    The 1st simpsons xmas special
    The simpsons where bart burns down the tree

    I will be 44 on the 27th….and i FINALLY, for the 1st time ever, watched Its a wonderful life AND Miracle on 34th street (both black & white). Pretty good!
    Prayers to your friend!!! Many many!!!!!!
    Merry merry Xmas to u and yours!!!! Happy early b-day!!!!😋🎁

    • Happy Birthday fellow Christmas Baby! (49 the 29th, wish I was having fun the 27th instead taking my French Bulldog in for a tooth extraction)

  18. Merry Christmas, Happy Year, and an early Happy Birthday! Have you reviewed how your current health insurance would work with Medicare? (Sorry, I’m in the biz.) If your bday is 1/1, your Medicare clock started 12/1 due to a funny gov’t rule that says you’re considered 65 this month. There are all kinds of Medicare late enrollment penalties if you don’t sign up when you’re supposed to.

  19. Praying for your friend…

  20. I love most of the movies you mention, but Scrooged is one of my faves too.

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