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TV stars tell holiday stories at 'Once Upon a Christmas'

David Dean Bottrell reading
David Dean Bottrell reading "A Crafty Little Christmas" at Hollywood United Methodist Church in 2012.
Richard Settle

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On Sunday, Dec. 8, television stars will be telling Christmas stories at Hollywood United Methodist Church in a program called "Once Upon a Christmas."

It's an annual event, and this year Pauley Perrette (“NCIS”), Geri Jewell (“The Facts of Life,” “Deadwood”), Rondi Reed (“Mike & Molly,” Tony winner “August: Osage County”), Beth Grant (“The Mindy Project,” “Sordid Lives”), Bill Brochtrup (“NYPD Blue”) and David Dean Bottrell (“Boston Legal”) are scheduled to appear.

We don't know what they'll come up with this year, but last year, in "A Crafty Little Christmas," David Dean Bottrell told about his family in Eastern Kentucky, where Christmas was heralded by arrival of the good book. That is, the Sears Christmas catalog.

With my glass of grape Kool-Aid in hand, I would slowly begin to page through it, making big plans for how I would someday ... buy that beautiful brown polyester suit for my father,  that washing machine for my mother, that rocking chair for my grandmother. Slowly, I would run my sticky fingers across images that seemed to be beamed from some magical, alternative universe where people gave dinner parties and owned patio furniture.  

Then, after a brief but exciting stopover in the men’s underwear section, I would make my way to the back of the catalog, where I would float into a heaven beyond my imagining, gazing at 47 pages of Christmas toys. Brightly colored dream machines. The Show 'n Tell record player and slide show, Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots, the Johnny Seven O.M.A. (One Man Army) gun, the Spirograph, the Etch A Sketch, Twister, the Bowl-a-Matic, the Thingmaker, or the miniature Troll Village with 75 individual pieces! 

How parents managed to actually buy anything for David, his siblings, and the waifs and strays who were always welcomed to their house is something of a Christmas miracle.

People of all or no faiths are welcome, and while it's definitely religious in nature (this is not a generic "holiday" event), it's not preachy.

"Once Upon a Christmas" is Sunday, Dec. 8, at 7 p.m. at Hollywood United Methodist Church,  6817 Franklin Ave., Los Angeles, Calif. 90068. $20 tickets at the door. 

Images: 1970 Sears "Wish Book" from Wishbook Web scans.