Sunday, December 20, 2009

It's That Time of Year by Doris Ann Norris

Doris Ann Norris is also affectionately known by many as "the 2000 year old librarian." She is retired as a library director, but subs at two Ohio County libraries as reference and reader's advisory librarian. Doris Ann manages to go to four mystery conferences a year and just finished up a five year term on the Sisters in Crime board as library liaison.

It’s That Time of Year by Doris Ann Norris

When I first selected this date to be Kaye Barley’s guest blogger, I had a rant in mind concerning the schmaltz, commercialization and secularization of December holidays, including Christmas and Hanukkah.

But things change in our lives.

In my case, this will be the first Christmas without my mother, who left this plane in November at the age of 96. True, as the last five years saw her sink deeper and deeper into dementia. The last three years she didn’t know her children or even what her birthday, Mother’s Day, Christmas, meant.

She’d ask what those presents were doing on the table.

The December holidays truly change as we grow older and we often become dispirited and depressed, as these supposedly joyful and family-bonding times of love don’t seem to materialize.

But this year I have nothing but happy, glowing and warm memories of past holidays with my parents, four brothers and my only sister as well as the family as it grew to receive spouses of siblings and nieces and nephews. It’s, no doubt, part of the healing process in the recovery of loss. Gone are the bad memories and only the happy ones remain….at least for this year.

So, I’ve been watching the Hallmark Channel and other old movies and some not-so-old ones. Everyone ends up full of happiness, love and often with a Christmas miracle.

Christmas is saved by Ernest, by a red-nosed reindeer, by a squirrel, by dogs, etc. Angels, including Peter Falk, Harry Dean Stanton, Patty Duke, Katie Sagal, et al come down to Earth. In fact, Falk plays Max, an angel, in at least three made-for-TV movies.

Then there are ghosts that come back to make their family Christmases complete.

The most famous ghosts, however, are those of Charles Dickens in A CHRISTMAS CAROL. How many “straight” versions have been made? My favorite is the one with Alistair Sim, followed by George C. Scott version. The first movie recorded was made in 1916 and this year there is a new one with Jim Carrey.

Then many a television series has included an adaptation featuring the Dickens’ characterizations, including one I caught of the TV series THE GHOST AND MRS. MUIR featuring Charles Nelson Riley as the Scrooge character.

In fact those ghosts, including Marley and Christmases Past, Present and Future have been reenacted by dogs, Muppets, Mr. Magoo and more.

Don’t forget the Bill Murray version or those featuring Susan Lucci, Tori Spelling Cicely Tyson, Hoyt Axton, Vanessa Williams uttering “Bah, humbug.”

One of my favorites is A CHRISTMAS STORY by Jean Shepherd with the boy who wanted a Red Ryder BB gun.

Many people list IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE as their favorite holiday story, and here is my rant about this classic film. Jimmy Stewart as George is wonderful. His persona which he played so often is “Everyman”, as we’d like to see him…honest, sensitive with so much integrity as well as a sense of humor and humanity.

But I have learned to hate this movie…and blame Frank Capra. Jimmy, aka George Bailey is never born and all kinds of terrible things happen which he could have prevented.

And what terrible fate awaits Donna Reed as Mary? If George isn’t born she ends up…horror of horrors…as a spinster librarian in their small town.

Let me tell you Mr. Capra, being an unmarried librarian in a small town or a big city can be a “wonderful life” as well.

May all of you who are celebrating Hanukkah have nothing but light in your lives. May everyone of whatever religion of culture have your 12 Days of Christmas, as well as the 12 months of 2010, and the rest of your years be filled with love and laughter, peace and prosperity, family and friends and, of course, wonderful books.

Doris Ann Norris, the 2000-thousand-year-old librarian


Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

So sorry to hear about your Mom Doris, had mine until she was 97. I forget and think, "Oh, I'll have to tell mom about that."

Hope to see you at Mayhem in the Midlands.

And some of the greatest people are "spinster librarians".


Lesa said...

Doris Ann, I never was able to quite put my finger on why It's a Wonderful Life was not one of my favorite Christmas movies, but I think you put your finger on it. I loved the part about the bells, but I think the "spinster librarian" must be it. Now, I watch White Christmas every year, and cry at the scene near the end when the general walks in. And, Miracle on 34th Street (the original version) gives me that scene when the mailmen dump the mail on the judge's desk. I have favorite scenes, but no movie I love with all of my heart.

And, as a librarian, you will appreciate it when I say, I met Jean Shepherd when I was the manager at the Captiva Memorial Library. He came in, and sat and told me stories! Something that only happens when you're a librarian in a small town library.

Lesa -

Mary Jane Maffini said...

Well said, Dorris Ann. I was very sorry to hear about your mother, but happy to know you're enjoying lovely memories.

Movies do help. A Christmas Story is also one of my faves too. I think it's the lamp, but it could be the cursing.

Where are the Christmas movies of joyous small-town librarians dancing through life. Been there. Been that, as I know you have.

Merry merry and much happy reading over the hols.

le0pard13 said...

Great post. It is interesting that you mention the two films noted here, A Christmas Story and It's A Wonderful Life. Likely due to their popularity, and TV/Cable showings over the decades, both seem to have a polarizing effect on folks. For instance, Jen (and blogger Pop Culture Nerd) and I are on opposite poles with regards to A Christmas Story. That's okay, they are still my friends ;-). While the two films are favorites of mine, I agree that It's A Wonderful Life did no favors to the librarians of the world (some of the very best people I know). However, I don't think it invented that bad stereotype--it just helped to perpetuate it. Which is too bad. I very much enjoyed reading this so close to the holidays. Thank you very much.


Finally catching up on my blog reading so this is a little late. Sorry to hear about your mom, Doris Ann. The holidays are a bit hard for me since my dad died so close to them last year. But then my brother will come along and recount some hilarious incident of a Christmas past with my parents--because we never had "Hallmark" holidays. We had Murphy's Law holidays. Nothing was ever perfect. And thank God my family learned to laugh about it.

Thanks for reminding me, sweetie.
Merry Christmas.

Vicki Lane said...

A wonderful post -- as I expected. I always enjoy what you have to say on DorothyL.

Merry Christmas, Doris Ann!

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Doris Ann - Thank You!! I think you have a number of people in your corner who agree that librarians are THE best!

I appreciate you taking the time, especially now, to be a part of Meanderings and Muses.

And everyone else - Thanks for dropping by!!! Sorry it's taken me forever to get here, but the NC mountains got slammed with some snow, and then some ice and we've been without power. SO glad to be back!!!!!!!!!!!