As if you couldn’t tell by the Facebook posts of decked out trees, ugly sweaters on sale mall-wide, catchy (and maybe corny) tunes blaring over store loudspeakers, or by your calendar, well, it’s that time of year. My FAVORITE time of year. 🙂 I love the anticipation and traditions embedded in the whole month of December. I love the celebration of Christ’s coming and all that represents. While I love sharing the joy and traditions with my family and friends, and it is difficult at times being away from so many of them this time of year, those traditions make me feel a little closer… like we’re celebrating together almost.
Of all of the traditions associated with Christmas time, one of the first categories I give in to is holiday movies. First of all, I love cozying up on the couch with a warm mug of goodness and watching a Christmas movie. My criteria for Christmas movies is not always rigorous, especially when it comes for made-for-t.v. Christmas movies. You know what I’m talking about. All those require are 1) a sappy love story or a reunion/change of heart of some sort, 2) sappy Christmas music and special effects, and 3) some elaborate or mushy gift wrapped in a big red bow, often it’s a puppy. Does a glowing halo form over a characters head as they perform a Christmas miracle? Check! Do 1990’s CG snowflakes appear on the screen at any point? Yesss. Does it seem like everything is going wrong until the last moment when the holiday spirit overcomes all problems and joy abounds?! Perfection. Well… maybe not perfection… but it makes for a great t.v. Christmas movie. As I write this, I’m on the couch in my p.j.’s, drinking some Chai and watching the made-for-t.v. movie All I Want For Christmas. I give it a C. It gives me a cozy morning. 🙂
But those aren’t the movies I’m talking about now… I’m talking about my favorites. Ones that were actually made for a theater audience, that have at least 3 recognizable actors, and that significantly symbolize the coming of Christmas in my mind. Here’s my list, in no particular order.
Released in 1994, this was the epitome of holiday films for a 7 year old girl. First of all, I loved (still love!) Tim Allen. He’s always reminded me of my dad, so I instantly smile whenever I watch Home Improvement or hear his recognizable voice on a commercial. But make Tim Allen Santa, write some great dialogue, and throw in cute elves on a tactical response team (hey, I was 7) and you have that movie sold! “This completes the ensemble.”
I can still quote the majority of that movie, and I picture them walking down the alley all decked out every time I hear Gimme All Your Lovin’ by ZZ Top.
First of all, did you know this movie came out 10 YEARS AGO?! It does not seem that old!
Of all of the recent Christmas movies, I think this one has the biggest generational appeal. It had Will Ferrell when he was at his peak and Zooey Deschanel before she was cool. It also has New York City during Christmastime, another indicator of a quality Christmas film. The music is bright and original, the claymation is notoriously Christmas-y, the laughs constant. And it is oh-so quotable. How can you not love this??
This film is probably pretty polarizing… you love it or you never want to see it or hear anyone quote it again. You can clearly see where I fall in this debate. I watch this movie every year (as I’m sure many people do) and I still crack up every time he comes down the steps in those stupid pajamas and whenever his dad yells at the stinkin’ furnace. It’s a classic. Especially when watched on the old 1980’s recorded-from-t.v. VHS version my dad has (complete with 1980’s commercials).
And did you know that Ralphie makes an appearance in Elf? He’s the elf in charge of toy quotas at the North Pole!
I’m…. dreaming… of a white…. Christmas!
Rosemary Clooney. Bing Crosby. Danny Kaye. Vera-Ellen. An all-star cast, music and dancing to captivate anyone, 1950’s charm. Sigh. I love everything about it. I love also that it’s about showing kindness to someone else during the holidays – the true definition of love. And, of course, the warm-fuzzies abound at the end when (spoiler alert!) the snow starts to fall to the tune of the title song.
One year I went to see White Christmas at a dinner theater. It was absolutely amazing, and it made me fall in love with the movie and songs even more. This is one of my favorite moments:
Surprisingly, I have never seen Holiday Inn, which led to White Christmas and which many people prefer. I plan on watching it this year. I’m sure I’ll love it.
Have you ever gone back to watch a movie or show that was a favorite as a child? Sam and I watched some Rugrats on Netflix the other day… and I think it’s ruined now. Not the same. Home Alone, thankfully, is not like that. It still has all of it’s humor and thrill years later. Kevin is still hilarious. The Wet Bandits are still dopey and villainous. The music still sticks with me for days after.
Now that I’m a “grown-up” and don’t get to always be with my parents and brother for Christmas, I well up a bit every time the family comes streaming back into the house at the end. It’s the holiday reunion I’d love to have every year.
Home Alone 2 is a close second, but I’ll always love the original more.
Well, those are my favorites. There are of course other ones I greatly enjoy, and non-Christmas movies that take place during Christmas that I love (The Holiday, You’ve Got Mail, Sleepless in Seattle, etc.). You may notice a few (of what you may call glaring) omissions. No claymation classics for me, sorry. I never really enjoyed those… they never kept my attention as a kid. A little too slow I guess. And… I may lose some friends here… I don’t love It’s A Wonderful Life. I know. I know. I somehow made it the majority of my life thus far without seeing this movie. And when I watched it for the first time a few years ago, my first thought was, “Wow, this is sad.” The majority of this movie is not what you’d call cheery! I know, it’s redeeming at the end and teaches you to appreciate your life, get your priorities straight, etc. etc. but it’s not in my Christmas canon. For that, I apologize. Still be my friend. Please?
What are your favorite holiday movies? Any that actually teach the gospel? There’s a sad lack of those. Comment and let me know! 🙂