‘Tis The Season: Authors Talk Holidays 2016 With Susan Adrian

‘Tis The Season: Authors Talk Holidays is a special seasonal feature on Pop! Goes The Reader in which some of my favourite authors help me to celebrate the spirit of the season and spread a little holiday cheer. So, pour yourself a cup of hot chocolate and snuggle in by the fireside as they answer the question: “What does the holiday season mean to you?” You can find a complete list of the participants and their scheduled guest post dates Here!

About Susan Adrian

Susan Adrian is a fourth-generation Californian who now lives in the beautiful Big Sky country of Montana. She’s published two YA thrillers: Tunnel Vision and The Dark At The End, and her debut middle grade, Nutcracked, will be out with Random House in September 2017. She began ballet late — at age eight — but got to fulfill her dream of playing Clara in The Nutcracker when she was thirteen, before joining the Sacramento Ballet Company. Later she got a degree in English from the University of California, Davis. These days she’s settled in as a writer, scientific editor, and mom. When she’s not with her family, she keeps busy researching crazy stuff, traveling, and writing more books. She still sees The Nutcracker every year she can, and tries really hard not to act out all the parts.

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When I was a kid, Christmas meant family and presents, a house full of decorations and The Nutcracker. But when you move out and start (trying) to be an adult, holidays change. Sure, you may still go home to your family for Christmas day, but what about the rest of the season? What happens when you move into your first apartment, and you don’t have any of those decorations? What happens when you move in with a partner, or get married, and suddenly have to figure out your own blended traditions?

My husband proposed to me on Christmas Day the year we met, so Christmas is an important time for us. One of the first, and most important traditions we started together: Christmas movies.

We both love old movies, so we started with a couple of classics: Holiday Inn and White Christmas. Holiday Inn is pure fun: Fred Astaire and Bing Crosby duking it out with singing and dancing over the same girls, all to different holiday songs. That said, I skip the blackface scene, which is horrific. Fun fact: This movie is the debut of Bing’s famous song “White Christmas”. The second film just remade it. Here’s the classic scene with Bing and Marjorie Reynolds (Martha Mears singing):

White Christmas took that style and expanded it, making it goofier and bigger. I adore the dancing scene with Danny Kaye and Vera Ellen (“The Best Things Happen While You’re Dancing”) as well as any of the bits with Rosemary Clooney. My husband and I still reference those songs all the time, and these two are the ones we still watch every year, now with our daughter, no matter what.

There are others we added later, but are still as dear. The Bishop’s Wife is my favorite, partly because I love Cary Grant in anything (Yes, he’s a little stiff, but he’s also the definition of debonair) and partly because I so love the idea of an angel on earth who falls in love with his charge and almost messes everything up. There’s magic, skating, silly bits, and fun visual tricks for a 1940’s movie. Also he sticks up for the little girl in a boy’s world. ☺

Christmas in Connecticut is pure screwball fun with a little romance. Barbara Stanwyck is classic as a writer of a woman’s home column (think Martha Stewart) who’s making it all up…and what happens when she has to play the part for real.

And then there’s The Bells Of St. Mary’s and Going My Way, both Bing Crosby again (There IS a lot of Bing in our collection). But how can you go wrong with singing and Christmas? And Ingrid Bergman. And Barry Fitzgerald in Going My Way is amazing.

My husband’s favorite is It’s A Wonderful Life, which is pretty easy to watch this time of year. It’s everywhere, and rightfully so. Jimmy Stewart is so perfect, and there’s nothing quite like the rollercoaster of emotions in that movie. By the end I always feel uplifted and appreciative of the world around me.

Those are the ones we have to watch to make it feel like Christmas. We round out the list sometimes with a few extras: Miracle On 34th Street, Nightmare Before Christmas, and our daughter’s favorite, Elf, all add to the feeling of the holidays. All of these movies help get me in the mood, and more — they connect me with the past. Especially in these uncertain times, I love that I can look back, across 70+ years for some of these movies, to Christmases long gone. The movies are the same every year, and I still feel the same when I watch them: full of love, and joy, and the spirit of Christmas.

Art — books, music, movies, dance — can inspire us, connect us not only with the artist or the characters, but with our past selves. When I watch Holiday Inn I may be me now, with a teenage daughter and all the chaos of the world, but I am also me then, newly in love, curled up in a blanket on the floor, watching together in our first place. I feel both, and all the years between, and I feel like home.

That’s what the best traditions are all about. I wish for each of you that you find — and hang onto — your own traditions, whatever they are.

Title Nutcracked
Author Susan Adrian
Pages N/A
Intended Target Audience Middle Grade
Genre & Keywords Contemporary, Fairytale, Re-Telling
To Be Published Fall 2017 by Random House
Find It On Goodreads

Since her grandfather first took her to see The Nutcracker, Georgie has dreamed of being cast as Clara in her ballet company’s annual Christmas production of The Nutcracker. When it actually happens, it’s not at all as she’d hoped. Her best friend won’t talk to her, her grandfather is in the hospital, and every time she holds her teacher’s antique nutcracker in her arms while she dances, she goes somewhere else. Somewhere dangerous. Somewhere with massive Christmas trees, a three-headed mouse king, and row of toy soldiers bigger than her. With advice from a new friend, and a chance to mend bridges with her BFF, can she help the Nutcracker prince break the spell before the curtain goes up?

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