Frozen 2: The importance of the personal journey

I’ve been meaning to write this review for a month, as I managed to see Frozen 2 the first weekend it was out. My youngest daughters, their biological grandmother, and I went to a matinee the first Saturday of its run.

I need to preface with a little backstory: My five-year-old adores Elsa. “Let It Go” has become the anthem that she sings at the top of her lungs as she runs around the house with an Elsa-themed fleece blanket draped around her shoulders, and the key phrase that gets yelled is, “Stay away from me!”

Appropriate, because A is cripplingly shy with strangers.

So the moment we all saw the first Frozen 2 trailer, we knew we were going to go.

And frankly, I thought the second movie much better than the first, but that’s probably because it resonated so deeply with me as an adult.

The story this time focuses on the major theme of “becoming”: how one finds their place in life. Elsa learns about her origins and purpose; Anna learns what it is to be alone and how to manage that; Kristoff learns about his role in their story; and Olaf learns what it means to grow up.

The story begins in autumn, rather than winter, with the music reflecting a somewhat ominous theme in a contrastingly cheerful tune, “Some things never change.” This, of course, foreshadows that things inevitably do change, and viewers are left to watch the journey of these characters as they grow into themselves. Elsa hears a call that she can’t resist following, and Anna insists on going along. Where Anna goes, Kristoff follows, and therefore we have that trio plus Olaf and Sven heading on an adventure into an enchanted forest in the far north.

All is not as it seems in the enchanted forest, and as the story progresses, each character faces some hard truths. In the end, of course, all is well, if different, and along the way we learn that change is hard, but it can be handled, one step at a time.

The pacing kept the attention of my preschoolers, which has become my standard gauge of interest. When things looked to be getting too scary, Olaf popped up with something to lighten the mood, generally. But at one particularly low point in the film, Olaf, himself, is gone, and Anna is left to pick up and move on entirely alone. Her song, “The Next Right Thing,” felt like my personal anthem when I heard it. I was not the only adult in the audience who cried.

However, this is Disney; everything turned out happy in the end, if different than before. But the theme remained: some things never change; some things stay the same; but some things do, and change doesn’t have to be bad.

It’s a good lesson, delivered with entertaining grace. We loved the film, immediately downloaded the soundtrack, and started singing a new tune around the house. One girl will call out, “Ah-ah-ah-ah” in a perfect call from the woods, and the other will answer.

Soon we’re all headed “Into the Unknown” for our own adventure.

P.S. : A is getting an authentic Elsa costume with cape for Christmas. I’m really looking forward to seeing her face.

The Holiday Pot-Luck

Today, my department hosts its now-annual potluck to kick off December’s rush of finals, graduation, grading, and paperwork.

As a tradition, the potluck apparently got its name from Thomas Nash, who discussed added guests in terms of whatever’s available to feed them–the luck of the pot. However, it’s evolved to be a communal meal to which guests all contribute in one form or another. Laura Ingalls Wilder writes about a communal Thanksgiving dinner held in DeSmet, S.D., one year, sponsored by her church, where the members of the Ladies Association brought different dishes to share for a fee.

My first exposures to potlucks? Well, I can’t even remember. It seems they’ve always been a thing, though I do most closely associate them with the church ladies of my childhood, frankly. But every meal as an extended family functioned similarly; no one person provided all the food for any particular meal. All took part.

Thanksgiving became a perfect showcase for the potluck and for family dishes. Though snow prevented us from traveling this year, we were ready with our contributions of pie and cupcakes. My sister, brother, mother, and I texted back and forth for a few weeks to determine the final shakedown of who would bring what to ensure everything was covered.

The office potluck is a bit different. No one knows exactly what everyone’s bringing, just that everyone should bring something. To that end, I’ve evolved into the potluck person who brings some sort of hot dish to share that’s heavy on protein. There’s never, ever, enough protein at a potluck, especially at a holiday where sweet treats are the norm.

This time around I made meatballs from scratch, which, as I write this, smell amazing. the aroma brought all the participants to the front office to load up a plate. We’ve also got a variety of other treats at the table, and that’s half the fun of a potluck. You never quite know what’s going to be on offer.

Amy’s Meatballs

Suitable for spaghetti, sandwiches, and plain-old snacking, meatballs are family staple. My general recipe is actually a rule-of-thumb kind of thing: One pound of ground meat to one cup of fresh bread crumb to one egg, plus seasoning.

The batch I made for today turned out really, really tasty. I used jarred tomato sauce for the coating and kept them hot in a crockpot.

3 lbs 80/20 ground beef, thawed

2 cups Italian-seasoned dried bread crumbs

1/3 cup milk

1 T. salt

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

2 eggs

Blend the crumbs, cheese, and salt; add milk and stir together. ┬áLet stand for a few minutes to “freshen” the crumbs. Crumble the ground beef over the top. Add the two eggs; mix with your hands until combined. Don’t knead too much or they’ll get rubbery.

Portion out into 1 1/2 inch balls on a baking sheet. Bake at 375 for 20 minutes.

Once out of the oven, you can sauce them any way you’d like. I added this batch to a crockpot with four cups (two jars) of spaghetti sauce. If you used plain bread crumbs and added allspice and celery seed to the main recipe, you could sauce with mushroom cream gravy for Swedish meatballs. As I said, it’s more of a rule-of-thumb than a true recipe.

Enjoy for your next potluck!