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There’s a reason they say to secure items when the plane’s about to land. I was looking at the skyline as we returned from Chicago and for some reason had the urge to lay my phone and lip balm in my lap as we descended.


We were in the very back of the plane. It wasn’t as if holding my belongings would in any way speed our deboarding. But I had this urge, so I’m loosely holding my phone and lip balm and as soon as the wheels hit pavement both items fly out of my hand and under the seats in front of me. All of the seats. Once we landed I gathered two parts of my stupid phone, nobody around us saw the battery, but they all said they heard or felt it. Apparently it flew to the feet of the flight attendant sitting at the front of the plane. Still works! My lip balm was never heard from again.

My usual airplane drink is tea. MoonPie goes for tomato juice, which is proven, in a pop sciency way, to taste better to us way up in the air. This time I had the wine and so everything that happened after that is not my fault. Chicago is a bad influence but how I miss running along the river and lakefront on those foggy mornings. Pretty city.

But we had to come back to feed our creepy Christmas tree. There’s no way to share this without sounding like I need glasses, but when the tree is in my periphery it looks as if there’s someone inside of it, a humanish figure instead of a trunk. I love it.

And now that I’ve seen all of my favorite holiday movies, it’s back to horrors. Did you know Bob Clark, who directed A Christmas Story, also directed Black Christmas only nine years prior? This and the All Through the House episode of Tales from the Crypt satisfy my merry horror fix every December.


All Through the House

Black Christmas


Made years before When a Stranger Calls and Carpenter’s Halloween, Black Christmas is a classic that’s fallen through the cracks. [Here comes a spoiler, but it’s pretty obvious from the beginning. I mean, one of the movie’s other titles is Stranger in the House. Hmmm.] I don’t know if it was actually the first, but I think it’s the earliest horror I saw that uses the phone in that never-gets-old He’s in the house! way.

The camera also gives us the killer’s first person perspective, which Mr. Carpenter takes to a new level in that first scene of Halloween. AND there’s what’s become my favorite quality lately, intelligent ambiguity. Because we don’t need to know the who or why or what was his childhood like. It’s much more frightening and better paced when it’s a deranged stranger lurking.

We have a sorority house getting creepy calls in the days leading up to Christmas. Maybe a few of them go missing. Maybe a child from town also went missing. Maybe there’s a link. When it’s dark and snowy and the campus is mostly empty, glowing red lights and all those spiked drinks don’t seem so magical any more. And that’s the movie. A man climbs into a giant house during a party and picks off its residents one by one as holiday cheer pours molasses on the girls’ response time. He’s deranged, but who knows why he chose the house. That’s the part that taps into psychological terror and why to me this movie stands apart.

Growing up, I once asked my dad why we didn’t have a security system in our little house. He replied, “If somebody wants to get in, they’ll get in.”

That kept me up more than a few nights, listening to every creek and imagining it was one of the windows we never locked sliding open. Wondering which window. These days I lock my windows and sometimes wake up in the middle of the night and check first them and then the closets and under the bed to make sure nobody’s living in our shadows.

The original Black Christmas is obviously dated, but it still works for me. Plus I love the 70’s styling and the overall pace, which does what it wants. I watched the 2006 remake last night and felt sad after. Why they threw out everything that made the first so distinctive and replaced it with eyeball eating and loads of predictable back story, I don’t care enough to know.

If you haven’t seen Black Christmas, try the original. And remember to secure personal items when landing OR resist the crappy Chardonnay.