The 2nd Gift of Christmas at Lake Truckee, California, 1846

Margret [Reed] did her best to revive a few hours of Christmas joy for her hungry children. She’d saved a meager hoard for the occasion–a few dried apples, a few beans, a little tripe, and a small piece of bacon. The children watched as the treats simmered in the kettle, and when they sat down to this Christmas feast, Margret told them, ‘Children, eat slowly, for this one day you can have all you wish.’ For the rest of her life, not matter how grand a Christmas dinner spread on her table, Virginia never forgot what her mother did for them. ‘So bitter was the memory relieved by that one bright day, that I have never since sat down to a Christmas dinner without my thoughts going back to Donner Lake.'” ~Women of the Frontier by Brandon Marie Miller

The Reed family was a part of the famous, or infamous, Donner Party, a group of families headed for Oregon/California who attempted to cross the Sierra Nevada Mountains in the fall of 1846. Many of the settlers in the party perished of cold or starvation when the winter snows trapped the group at Lake Truckee, now called Donner Lake to commemorate the unfortunate Donner Party. Margret Reed, her husband, James, and their four children—Virginia, Patty, James, Jr. and Thomas—survived the ordeal to settle in California.

Today’s gifts from Semicolon:
A song: One of my favorite songs by one of my favorite singers, Karen Carpenter singing I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.

A movie: I’ve become fond of The Ultimate Gift with a really aged James Garner as the grandfather/gift-giver. It made me feel old to watch and remember The Rockford Files when James Garner was young(ish) and played one of the great TV detectives. The movie has a great message, and if the plot gets a little thin at times, the characters and the heart make up for a creaky plot.
A booklist: Gift books for what they want to be when they grow up.
A birthday: David Macaulay, b.1946.
A verse: Christmas Bells by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The entire poem has seven stanzas or verses.

Movies Based on Books, Upcoming

51dxiVSpLwL._SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_Of course, the big news this week is the new Hunger Games movie, Catching Fire. One of my urchins wants to go to the midnight premiere on Thursday. However, there are other movies coming down the pike for November/December release:

The Christmas Candle, based on the novel by Max Lucado.

A movie called Tar, based on a book of poems by poet C.K. Willams and on the life of the poet, is set to release on December 1st.

From IMDB: “Based on the beloved bestselling book, The Book Thief tells the story of a spirited and courageous young girl who transforms the lives of everyone around her when she is sent to live with a foster family in World War II Germany.” I didn’t really care for the book, but I actually think the movie may be better.

The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug opens December 13th. I can hardly wait.

51ZWVmpx8uL._SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_Saving Mr. Banks tells the story of the collaboration of Walt Disney and P.L. Travers to make Mary Poppins a household name. Starring Tom Hanks as Walt Disney and Emma Thompson as Travers, it opens December 20th.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is a remake of the 1947 movie with Danny Kaye, this time starring Ben Stiller, It’s about a man who lives in his imagination, and it’s based on the short story “The Secret World of Walter Mitty” by cartoonist James Thurber.

Ender’s Game, based on the book by Orson Scott Card, and How I Live Now, from the YA novel by Meg Rosoff, are already in theaters. Anybody seen them? Anybody planning to make the midnight showing of Catching Fire?