By: Keni Kirkwood

As the weather gets cooler and our living rooms begin to look cozier, we are entering one of my favorite times of the year: Movie Season. 

I adore movies. In fact, my family and I have sort of a tradition of going to the cinema, dressed in theme with what we're going to see. Whether it's something as elaborate as a sparkly dress, or as simple as a catchy T-shirt, thinking about outfits and hairstyles to match the characters and settings of each film is great fun. But what if we could bring all that excitement and glamour right into our own homes? We totally can! It's called a watch-party. 

I'd like to dive into this enchanting concept with one of my favorite ever movies: Little Women. We're going to talk about the characters, think about the messages in the story, and most fun of all . . . we're going to get to spend an evening in the world of some of the most influential young ladies in literature: The March Sisters. 

So just what do we need for this enchanting evening?

SET THE SCENE

It only takes a few simple decorations to bring the historical atmosphere to life in your home. The March girls love flowers, and you will see them in the March house throughout the movie. Try adding a few fresh (or artificial) flowers to your table. You don't even need a fancy vase; glass jars or bottles work just as well, and look even more true to the period. There's a lot of candlelight in the movie, especially when Jo is creating; but if you don't want to risk setting anything alight (I don't blame you) you can use fairy lights around your table to get the same dreamy vibe. 

SNACKS

Every good movie needs snacks, of course! However, while there are lots of meals in the movie, the only food really given much spotlight is . . . pickled limes. EW! Am I right? So, we'll take a little liberty here and say some Sour Patch Kids candy will probably do the trick. You'll also want some "cozy" food, as well; maybe some cookies or cinnamon buns? And of course, hot tea or hot cocoa! 

DRESSING THE PART

So, now that you have an elegant table set, it's time to get into character. You can dress up as much or as little as you'd like. You can wear a flowery dress, or since this story is about being who you were made to be, a T-shirt that inspires you to be YOU will do just fine. Flower crowns are also optional, but totally awesome. 

FUN AND GAMES

Finally, if you want a little fun to go along with the film, I have just the thing for you. It's time to see if you're a storyteller like Jo, a dramatist like Meg, a songstress like Beth, or an artist like Amy. All you need is:

-some paper

-pens and markers

-a hat to draw from 

-a clock of some kind

Take several slips of paper and on each one write “story,” “drama,” “song,” and “art.” Then shuffle them up and throw them into the hat. Each partygoer -or team captain, if you'd prefer teams- will draw from the hat. Everyone will be given five minutes (or however much time you think your people need) to come up with something for their prompt:

STORY- you can tell a story (it could be a memory from your own life or the plot of a fave movie), or even write a poem. 

DRAMA- you can quote some favorite movie lines, or pretend to be something; anything from a tree to a cat.

SONG- sing (or play, if you have an instrument) any song you like. Or if you're feeling particularly ambitious, you could make up a jingle of your own. 

ART- draw, color, or even sculpt something from play-dough. 

In this game, you're all winners! It's about having fun and getting creative together.

SHOWTIME

Now that everything is all set, let's settle in to watch the movie. As you watch, laugh and cry (trust me, you will cry), think about the story before you. What lessons can be learnt from the girls and the journeys they take? **If, for any reason, you'd like to enter this viewing unscathed by spoilers, check back to the next paragraph after the show.

Relationships, in their many forms, are at the core of this epic.

From Meg, we can learn the value of choosing to love. She didn't end up with the wealth and fame she'd dreamt of as a girl, but she chose to bloom right where she was, because she loved her husband and her children. Her love took the form of joy in common life. Meg shows us that even the simple tasks, like cooking a meal, can be channels of grace.  While not always a glamorous position, in God's eyes, the life of a wife and mother is to be highly applauded. So let's ask ourselves: how can we intentionally love others in our lives?

Jo struggles with human nature, with her patience and temper, and listening to others. Her independence is so fierce, it threatens to drive others away. But you know what? She learns that loving doesn't confine you, or make you weak, or even make you any less yourself. When Jo sees past all of the things she thought love was, (yes, this includes seeing past Laurie's handsome charm), she transforms. When we let others in, we can reach our full potential. We can forgive, we can create, and we can be loved. This includes letting God in to do His work with our tempers and strong wills (I'm talking to myself too, really). So what are we holding on to? For loving will not confine us if we let it define us. 

Beth shows us a love for others that is decidedly Christ-like. She teaches lessons of kindness, joy, and selflessness. In fact, her initial illness is born from helping a sick family, even when others wouldn't. Her story reminds us of God's words in John 15:13, that the greatest kind of love is to lay down your life for a friend. And Beth made the world her friend. She was always first to forgive, first to comfort, and first to help anyone in need. Who do we know that we can serve like Beth, and ultimately, like Jesus? 

Finally, Amy learns about true value. Initially, she believes romantic love to be nothing more than arrangements for wealth and status. Growing up, she spends her whole life comparing herself to other girls, even (and especially) her sisters. But she comes to see that she can be valued, not because of what she does or has, but for who she is. In order to love well, in all areas of life, we first must understand that we are loved. How can we do that? What steps can you take -right now- to embrace the value God has given you? 

As I thought and prepared for this article, a common thread began to emerge from the stories of Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy March. They all learned that love, real love, in all its forms, was worth more than all of the things they thought it could be. A love that cares, sacrifices, listens, and forgives is far more valuable than applause, money, good looks and fancy things. This was the lesson Marmee was trying to teach the girls all along. 

It's about three things: loving God, knowing we are loved, and then loving others. When this happens, we can be content with the simple things- good friends, beautiful flowers, music . . . It is my hope that by throwing this watch-party, you and your tribe can experience this for yourselves. Laugh, enjoy being together. Create things, and encourage each other. Cry, and support each other. Then, hopefully, surrounded by love and joy, you'll remember just who you are.

Hi! I'm Keni.

I'm a Jesus follower, enjoying the adventure of life. I'm currently navigating "adulting" with the help of sweet tea and good music. 

Writing is my passion. I want to tell stories that sparkle with purpose, and inspire others to put faith into action. I'm a pop culture enthusiast who loves finding Truth in the stories around us, and illuminating that Truth to my generation. 

I also work with my parents as part of "Team Kirkwood," our circus arts and clowning company. We live in the beautiful Smoky Mountains of Tennessee with a silkie chicken named Fluffy, and Finley the Yorkie. 

When not writing or clowning, I love movie nights with my family, good books, and nerding out over musicals.  And dancing. Always dancing. 

It's so nice to meet you! You can connect with me . . . 

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