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December 16, 2014

MY HOLIDAY BLOG 2014: Holiday Movies, ‘A Christmas Carol’ and 40,000 Food Pantries and America Saves $350 Million a Day on Low Cost of Fuel. December 16th 2014 Calvin Schwartz

MY HOLIDAY BLOG 2014: Holiday Movies, ‘A Christmas Carol’ and 40,000 Food Pantries and America Saves $350 Million a Day on Low Cost of Fuel.   December 16th 2014   Calvin Schwartz

snow man

A bucket list thing for me. I was  one of Santa's elves at 6'5" on the Asbury Park Boardwalk. This pix was all  improv.

A bucket list thing for me. I was one of Santa’s elves at 6’5″ on the Asbury Park Boardwalk. This pix was all improv.




It’s complicated for me writing a holiday blog; emotions run all over the place. Holiday movies fuel the energy of creativity and magic carpet me around my Garden State memories.  Soon I’ll bring up some points about Dickens’  ‘A Christmas Carol’ that are hauntingly real and timeless. I love this time of year; the spirit behind the holiday with its giving, sense of family, togetherness and awareness of poor and less fortunate. I treasure every moment of holiday absorption and begin listening to the season’s music the day after Thanksgiving; Sirius Channel 17, 106.7,Time-Life Treasury of Christmas Music  and You Tube. I get around.

I decided to do my holiday blog today; it’s supposed to snow this weekend and maybe I’ll get a chance to use  a snow blower; I’ve reached that age of obviating shoveling.  On Thanksgiving, I start to gear up for the holidays and watch ‘March of the Wooden Soldiers’ with Laurel and Hardy. I’ve been watching that movie for over 60 years, the last 24 with my son just as I watched with my father.






For me, that movie kicks off the Christmas season and imparts lessons about life, togetherness and family and living in a shoe. My thoughts about the movie’s meaning; I think the movie shows an early example of robots (wooden soldiers) being used productively by humans. The movie (from 1934) was a pioneer in other relevant areas such as animal rights by harshly depicting the banishing of pig-nappers to Bogeyland. The film also deals with a powerful contemporary issue of affordable housing or as they’re newly called, tiny houses for the homeless. Even as we speak, New Jersey is wrestling with legislation to provide tiny houses for homeless; the legislation in part promulgated by homeless advocate and friend Sherry Rubel.  ( One more staggering homeless fact:  The National Center on Family Homelessness calculates that nearly 2.5 million American children were homeless at some point in 2013. Back to the movie: The three pigs lived in tiny houses in Toyland in the film. I’m into pig issues since I’ve not eaten anything with four legs since 1975 so I’m cognizant about their plight as a species.

Moving on to one of my favorite movies (holiday and all year), ‘A Christmas Carol’ starring Alastair Sim from 1951. There have been a number of actors playing Scrooge. For me it’s only Alastair Sim. The tech noir film ambiance lends itself perfectly to the time Charles Dickens wrote the novella in 1843. A few things about the movie still hold on to my soul. The Ghost of Christmas Present reveals to Scrooge two emaciated children, clinging to his robes, and names the boy as ‘Ignorance’ and the girl as ‘Want’. The spirit warns Scrooge, “Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased.”, dramatizing the book’s social message.

Here’s where the movie’s theme gets relevant, timely and fascinating. “Want” is a powerful force. In 1843, people wanted and needed. Of course Scrooge asked, “Are there no work-houses?”  In 1980, there were 40 Food Pantries/Food Banks in America and today there are 40,000; a devastatingly incomprehensible example of want and need beyond most of our comprehension. A dollar donated to a food bank can buy three meals. Last week, this factoid about the low prices of gas was published and astonished me. Because of the low price of gas (fuel) America is saving $350 million a day. I played around with the numbers. If all of us took $1 of savings a week and donated to local food banks, can you imagine what a special Christmas season and all year for up to 50 million Americans who are hungry?



Scrooge right before he stands on his head Christmas morning

Scrooge right before he stands on his head Christmas morning with Mrs Dilber watching.

WANT and Ignorance. It seems nothing has changed since 1843

WANT and Ignorance. It seems nothing has changed since 1843



Continuing Charles Dickens’ theme of “WANT” in the movie ‘A Christmas Carol’, I bring to this blog the news about a report that NASA had some involvement in: “NASA Study Concludes When Civilization Will End, And It’s Not Looking Good for Us.”  “It is an independent study by university researchers utilizing research tools developed for a separate NASA activity.”  There are five risk factors for societal collapse (population, climate, water, agriculture and energy).  The report says that the sudden downfall of complicated societal structures can follow when these factors converge to form two important criteria. “The two key solutions are to reduce economic inequality so as to ensure fairer distribution of resources, and to dramatically reduce resource consumption by relying on less intensive renewable resources and reducing population growth.” What does this all mean to me in this Holiday blog?  Dickens was enduringly smart. Want is the root of so many problems. The holidays should be a good time for all us Earth inhabitants to look at the less fortunate; a powerful message of the season.

As a journalist and human, nearly three years ago, I became involved with Tent City in Lakewood, New Jersey where 100 homeless humans lived in tents for up to 12 years because Ocean County had no provision for the homeless. Then two years ago, I became involved with the Food Bank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties, writing several articles about hunger and “want” and need. Then I went to an all-day event in Red Bank dealing with hunger. Then there’s Dickens in 1843 warning about ‘Want’ and I say to myself nothing has changed here on earth and in America since 1843. Want and Ignorance and Hunger not only exist but have grown in scope from 40 to 40,000.



A great scene from Holiday classic 'It's a Wonderful Life'

A great scene from Holiday classic ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’


At the Food Bank

At the Food Bank


On a more upbeat(after all it’s the holidays) extraction from the movie; the scene on Christmas morning when Scrooge wakes up and realizes he’s still alive and can change the course of his life by being a better, giving, and grateful human. The sheer joy and excitement of revelation propels Scrooge to stand on his head on a sofa which is priceless.Later on, I love what he says to Bob Cratchit, “I haven’t lost my senses, I’ve come to them.” Therefore I’ve added this scene to my bucket list. Someday I’ll come to that moment of sheer joy and find reason to stand on my head; hopefully on a morning local television program. Scrooge and I are about the same age so if he can stand on his head so can I. If we could move in the right direction fighting hunger and homelessness, I’d stand on my head.

It’s the holidays which are full of dreams and wide-eyed children.  I’m wide eyed right now finishing this blog and wishing everyone the same thing Tiny Tim wished.

Have a Merry Happy Healthy Wondrous.



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  1. Cal, I enjoyed your blog. May the force be with you at Christmas and all the days that follow so that I may one day read that you in fact, are standing on your head!

    Comment by Rosemary Conte — December 17, 2014 @ 2:04 am

  2. Thanks so much Rosemary!!

    Comment by earthood — December 17, 2014 @ 9:10 am

  3. Fantastic post! Happy Holidays!!

    Comment by Jenn Nixon — December 17, 2014 @ 4:30 pm

  4. here, here! One of my many charities is the Foodbank of Monmouth & Ocean. We also have a local food pantry here in Point Pleasant.
    Unfortunately as human beings we aren’t learning very much! Miss you Cal!!

    Comment by Sharon — December 18, 2014 @ 9:33 pm

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