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Christmas With The Whitfields
Presents and cards are here  My world is filled with cheer and you  This Christmas

The concept of coming home for Christmas is a very real and emotional idea for members of the cast of This Christmas, who hail from all over the U.S. as well as from Cuba and the U.K. 

"Everybody's on a different path and we've spread out across the country,” says Short of his own family, who are Kansas City natives. "In real life, families tend to regroup during the holidays. When you go home, especially living in Hollywood, you're like, this is my real family and these are the people who genuinely care for me. There's that center ground that the Whitfield home represents that we all want to come back to.”

Speaking of her big-hearted character, Loretta Divine observes, "Ma' Dere is a woman that really loves Christmas. I think she plans for Christmas almost all year-round, for the amount of decoration she puts up and how much effort she puts in putting everything together. Everybody tries to get home. That week on up through New Year's is probably one of the major events and has become a great tradition for this family. And she really loves it when all of her kids are home.” 

Whitmore chose to set his story around the holidays because it is a shared experience for so many families. "But most people have never seen really seen a California Christmas,” he says. "I think people don't think we have Christmas out here. It's no different from Christmas any other place, other than the fact that we can go skiing in the mountains or we can go to the beach.”

Columbus Short has mixed feelings about Christmas in balmy Southern California. "When I was in Kansas City it could be below freezing, with blizzards. There's something about that white Christmas that really feels like Christmas. But when you're in LA, it's very different. Our cast moved down here from Philly and New York and Virginia, and Oklahoma. They were saying, wow, it's seventy degrees outside and it's Christmas Eve.”

As it does in most cultures, food plays an elemental role during the holidays for the Whitfields. "When you're doing a black film, you try to stay away from some stereotypes,” says actress Regina King. "But you cannot do a black Christmas film and not have it be all about food. It just wouldn't be a true black Christmas film.”

Chris Brown concurs: "The number one thing that people do is eat. I think, as a family, people feel better on a full stomach. During the holidays, my family cooks, everybody eats and everybody comes together to have the turkey, yams, mashed potatoes, greens, everything. It just brings all of us together, eating and having a great time and expressing our love.”

But that's not to say just any old food will do. "Food is important with any family but in a black family it's like, "Who's cooking?,” laughs Short. "Who cooked the macaroni and cheese? I don't eat everybody's mac and cheese. Did Bear cook the mac and cheese? Uncle Randy cooked the greens? Okay, I'm not going to be able to eat the greens.”

Laz Alonso, who plays Lisa's ambitious, scheming husband Malcolm, comes from a family that emigrated from Cuba. He says that "soul food” is an essential part of the experience of any African coming to America. "It's something that is so much of a staple in the African-American home. My family adopted it as part of the African-American, or the African in America experience,” Alonso said. "We'll still have our black beans and rice, but you gotta believe we've got macaroni and cheese!”

The amount of food used in the film required the production to set up a working kitchen right on set. "We have twelve people at the dining room table and it's just constant food, and Ma' Dere is always cooking,” says executive producer Cullen.

Whitmore says his own mother could only cook while on the phone with his grandmot

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