I love Christmas. I sing the carols and the religious songs, even though I do not believe in god nor miracles. However, I do think the world, at least here in North America, gets kinder at Christmas time. I like that.
At Christmas time I like to carry a pack of rolled quarters in my pocket so I can donate to the Red Buckets of The Salvation Army as I travel around. I like quarters because they clunk and ring at the same time as they drop into the bucket. I like to make those donations in front of other people, so they understand that they can pull some money out of their pockets as well.
Well, here we are in May. We are on the verge of losing well over a hundred thousand Americans to Covid-19 . . . possibly even more and more later. Our friends and neighbors aren’t working. Perhaps the economy will bounce back, but the armed resistance from some dark corners and the defiance of wearing masks is getting scary. Right now, I think we need Christmas right this very minute. I’m singing the song We Need a Little Christmas* with all my heart.
Here is a sample of the lyrics:
“It’s time we hung some tinsel on that evergreen bough.
For I’ve grown a little leaner,
Grown a little colder,
Grown a little sadder,
Grown a little older,
And I need a little angel
Sitting on my shoulder,
Need a little Christmas now.”
Last night I was flipping through the offerings on Prime. I ran across a film I had never heard of before, “The Rooftop Christmas Tree.” I was in the mood. I knew absolutely nothing about the movie. The credits rolled and I saw that Tim Reid was in it. I plumped up my pillow, settled down and got cozy.
Here is the description of the film: “It’s Christmas and once again, Dale Landis (played by Tim Reid) places a tree on his roof and ends up in court. No one in the small town knows why he continues the practice, but idealistic attorney, Sarah Wright is determined to give Mr. Landis his Christmas wish and keep him out of jail.”
Tim Reid is probably best known for his portrayal of Venus Flytrap on TV’s WKRP in Cincinnati (1978). My wife Peg and I also loved him in the 1987 sitcom Frank’s Place. Reid played a college professor, a graduate of Brown University. He inherits his father’s bar in New Orleans. It has a mostly black cast. He sold me when he explained to people that he was a Brown man. . . and they would just look at him. I smiled and laughed each time. Peg and I recorded every episode, but of course that was on VHS tapes. Here is a someone’s recorded program from a re-broadcast on BET . . . it’s a little fuzzy, but it’s a Christmas time broadcast. – [youtube http://youtube.com/w/?v=G5_mlLamnm0]
We don’t see Reid enough in the production and he doesn’t say much, but the entire plot revolves around his character. The Rooftop Christmas Tree is inspired by a true story “and will restore your faith in miracles.” Well, my faith in miracles was not restored, but then I don’t really, really believe in miracles, but I do like an intriging plot.
Since the film was based on a true story I followed up with a search for author Landria Onkka. Here is Landria’s intro on her website, “I’m Landria Onkka, an Award Winning Author of Best Seller, ‘The Rooftop Christmas Tree’ now a Television Movie shown worldwide. Also author of sequel ‘A Bell for Christmas’ Grand Prize Winner Hollywood Book Fest, and ‘Wooden Mistletoe.’
Evidently the three books make up the Miracle Series. Noting the mentioned prize, I followed through by looking up the book festival. “Hollywood Book Festival is an annual book festival in Hollywood, California. The festival honors books that deserve greater recognition from the film, television, video gaming and multimedia communities. The book festival is the only publishing festival geared toward adapting print into different media.” – Wikipedia
I had never heard of the Hollywood Book Festival, but I really like the concept. Rooftop and Bell take place in the small town of Rosedale. The second book talks about the “South,” but the film Rooftop stars mostly Canadian actors and it was primarily shot in Ottawa, which is a great Christmasy location for snow.
So, here we are in May. We just had a weekend that reached into the eighties and yet, we need a miracle or two . . . or THREE. The House of Congress has passed a $3 trillion coronavirus stimulus plan that will put money into the hands of people that need to pay rent and mortgages. Although many people still haven’t received checks from the last stimulus plan, we can still hope for a miracle. I not only recommend The Rooftop Christmas Tree, but I will watch it again. When I see Tim Reid I will remember his Brown man bit and smile. The characters are interesting and the actors carry though, nicely. Enjoy . . . and believe.
Please, watch Lucille Ball as Mame singing We Need a Little Christmas – [youtube http://youtube.com/w/?v=-UL9rVtRvRI]
*We Need a Little Christmas was written by Jerry Herman for the Broadway musical Mame.