There’s just something special about holiday hospitality. When my friend Evelyn recently hosted the December meeting of our four-woman book club, the other three of us practically refused to get up from her elegant red and gold dinner table when we were finished eating. She made us feel so pampered that only the promise of opening presents in front of the fire — and, oh, yeah, discussing our book of the month — made us leave. I love the way she used simple solid red napkins and plates to create such a festive and sophisticated look, proving once again my grandmother’s timeless advice to always buy red things — they’re good for three out of four seasons, which is a record you cannot beat.
And for a record you can beat, we’re back with Cathy’s Hit Parade of Christmas Movies. Coming in at No. 3 is the two-fer I promised you yesterday — the duo of 1954’s “White Christmas” with Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye and its older sibling, the 1942 “Holiday Inn,” with Crosby and Fred Astaire. Does it get any better? Not much. Look, I know these are white- and male-centric movies that do not reflect how life really was for the folks watching in theaters during the 12-year span, but still. This is vintage Christmas: Singing, dancing, fake snow, cavernous New England inns, star-crossed lovers and misunderstandings with some sleigh rides thrown in for fun. It’s Hollywood escapism at its finest — the movies that made me think being a grownup woman meant going out dancing and drinking martinis and wearing evening gowns every night. Sadly, in the intervening years this dream has proved to be false, although I’m somewhat hopeful about the martinis. But I can relive the fantasy every Christmas with these films, and you should, too. Tomorrow, it’s on to No. 2 — one of the few movies my husband and I vehemently disagree about. (And remember that we both walked out of “Wild, Wild West,” so go figure.) Stop by on Thursday to find out which innocent Christmas movie provokes such intense conflict in our house.