Family Ties That Bind, Hinder, Constrict And Otherwise Mess Things Up

A Geezer’s Notebook, By Jim Foster

Now the Yule season is finally winding down and the never-ending onslaught of Christmas music has been chased from our beleaguered minds, we can get back to normal whatever normal is these days. But first, let me ramble on about a new Christmas tradition in our house, watching Love Actually.

It may not be one of your favourites; we don’t all like the same movies or have the same traditions. You might be one of those demented souls who get all weepy whenever the family gathers round the tree on Christmas morning to watch It’s a Wonderful Life.

“I beg your pardon, Mr. Foster, you dolt, you don’t like It’s a Wonderful Life? Why sir, it is one of the greatest Christmas movies of all time, how dare you?”

It’s true, I don’t and I don’t know why I don’t, but I don’t. And to make matters worse, it’s been so many years since I watched it I can’t remember why I don’t, but I think it has something to do with Jimmy Stewart.

First, I am a great fan of Jimmy Stewart, I liked him in dozens of movies, Rear Window, Broken Arrow (the western with Jeff Chandler, not the John Travolta one) and one of my all-time favourites, The Philadelphia Story with Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn. But no matter how much you like an actor, there is always one movie that you think they should have passed on and this is the one. I should explain my problem with his George Bailey, but to do that I would have to watch it once again and I simply can’t put myself through the agony. I am 85, almost halfway through my allotted years and I won’t torture myself by watching James Stewart get all sappy at the end.

If you are looking down at me from above, Jim, forgive me. By the way I thought you were excellent in Harvey.

Having cleared that up, let us move on to Love Actually. I like the movie (don’t panic, I am still going to ruin it for you at the end of the column) and Mary and I have watched in at least once or twice a year since 2003 (come to think of it, I didn’t even know Mary in 2003 – okay let’s say since 2011). I like the movie even though one of my favourite actors, the late Alan Rickman was a bit of a dink in this one (he was superb as the wicked Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves).

All kinds of my favourite actors are in this movie, even Emma Thompson (you will probably remember I wrote a column some years ago about a bunch of young ladies frolicking in a communal bathing in Much Ado About Nothing wherein I thought I saw her bare bum – on the other hand it may not have been her bum at all but I don’t know her well enough to discuss the matter with her). Hugh Grant is also in the movie. If you will recall, Hugh ended up in bed with Julia Roberts in Notting Hill and whether he saw her bum or not we do not know but I will ask him if he ever comes to Orillia.

Love Actually is a British musical comedy and a lot of fun to watch. There are so many great actors (and actresses too but apparently we aren’t allowed to call them that anymore) in the movie we slower people have to keep a scorecard to figure out who is courting who. I must admit the first ten viewings I missed most of the plots looking for Emma’s bottom.

Now I am going to ruin the movie for you. Even worse I am going to give you something to think about. There is a subplot in Love Actually. A lovely young lady is in love with a handsome chap who I noticed looks a lot like me only taller. But just when they are about to consummate their relationship (if you don’t understand what I mean, get your wife to explain it to you later) the phone rings. It is her brother who is mentally ill, violent at times, and confined in an institution. They try again but the brother calls again and she has to leave to go to him. What might have been a wonderful relationship ends and it is too bad.

Now here’s my problem and I have no answer. How long to do you have to put your life on hold for a member of your own family, or for that matter, anyone’s family? The movie ends quite happily for almost everyone, but not for her. Try as I might to answer my own question I simply do not know.

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