It’s just about Christmas, most of my cookies have been baked, the presents I bought have been wrapped, and my TV has been showing nothing but Christmas movies for the past week or so. I have my favorites, of course. There are so many to choose from, though. How do you pick which one to watch?
Well, it just so happens that I have a handy-dandy guide right here of all of my favorites that are worthy of a good watch, no matter what mood you’re in.
A Christmas Story – This is one of my tops. I’ve previously written about how I watch as much of the “24 Hour” marathon as I possibly can every year. Why? This move is a classic. This is the movie that gave people everywhere “You’ll shoot your eye out!” A Christmas Story is a fantastic look at Christmas, families, and presents through a child’s eyes, without being juvenile or too based on the Santa story. Ralphie, as a narrator, is a clever story-teller, weaving his day dreams into his realities. I appreciate a good story-teller. I also appreciate the shame and humor of a middle school aged boy in a pink bunny onesie.
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation – This is the movie that makes every member of my family make “fried pussycat” and jello mold and “Pledge of Allegiance” jokes at just about every occasion, not just Christmas. Christmas Vacation has so many perfect quotable moments that come out of pure comedy gold, and how relatable it is. My family laughs every year waiting to see if this is the year Grandma will sing “The Star Spangled Banner” at a candle, to see if our ham will turn to dust, or just how full of sap our tree will be. Now this is a holiday movie about families, in all of their eccentricities, faults, and bits of perfection. Even if your cousin doesn’t kidnap your boss on Christmas, I’m sure a lot of people can relate to this movie. Or just laugh their butts off at it, thanking the powers that be that their family isn’t like this. If you want to laugh, pee your pants, and be merry drinking eggnog out of a moose mug, this is the one you should watch.
The Rankin/Bass Animation Collection – I’m going to go ahead and lump a lot of movies into one bullet point here, because I always watch them all together, and they really do belong together. I’m talking about Rudolph, A Year Without a Santa Claus, Jack Frost, The Little Drummer Boy, Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town, Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph and Frosty’s Christmas in July, and Rudolph’s Shiny New Year. I’m actually watching some of these right now! I love these particular movies because they all tell origin stories of our favorite holiday characters. I also love the aesthetic of the classic stop motion animation utilized in these movies (with Frosty being the animation exception, of course). New holiday movies can come and go, but these are mainstays in my house and in my life, and if I ever have children, I hope that they will also watch these timeless legends.
Dr. Seuss’s How The Grinch Stole Christmas – Now, here I’m talking about the 30 minute animated special, not the full length foray into Who-ville. I always try to watch this right at the beginning of the holiday season. It starts the whole season off for me! I enjoy Dr. Seuss’s story because it shows that Christmas is not about the bells and whistles, but about the company you keep, and the special feeling you get from being together and doing good for each other. Awww.
Miracle on 34th Street – Made in the 1940s, this movie is still going strong. Its message stands up to time, to commercialism, and even to special effects available in movies nowadays. I truly believe that the reason why this movie stands strong after all of this time, is because it is about the power of belief and putting your faith in the kindness of those around you. This is a movie that actually deserves the oft-misused label “Restores your faith in humanity.” Miracle on 34th Street is not simply a Santa movie, but a movie about believing in good. It’s also heartwarming to see a girl go from an odd non-believer, to a thankful child who has gotten her wish come true of a house and a family, a completely selfless request. Also, I do recommend the original. I don’t really like the remake. Also, the court scene in the remake, the denouement of the entire story, is really weak and lame. The original is much better and brings quite a smile to my face.
Elf – Elf is, for me, a new classic. I don’t know if the production company knew it, but they came up with a hit that is now part of my holiday season kick-off. We always watch this on Thanksgiving. I love that it’s about the holiday season, and family, but it’s another one of those Christmas movies that’s not totally centered on Santa. When I was in college, every year some of my friends and I would sit down and watch Elf while making giant, 3-d paper snowflakes. It was our little tradition. I’m pretty sure that we even watched Elf after Christmas, just so we could shout out “The yellow ones don’t stop!” together.
The Santa Clause movies – Ok, let me be clear here: I’m only talking about The Santa Clause 1 & 2. I would like to forget that the 3rd movie ever happened. Ok? Great. The first Santa Clause movie is my favorite movie about the man, the myth, and the legend. I love this movie so much, and I watched it countless times as I grew up. For me, this is the canon Santa Claus. Other movies about the Big Man have me saying “Excuse me, that’s not what he was like in The Santa Clause!” I also like the second movie because it’s about love and I’m a big, fat sap. Sue me.
Dishonorable Mention Goes to: Jingle All the Way – Listen, this is hysterical. I can’t believe that this movie is real. Arnold Schwarzenegger was in a Christmas movie and expected to be taken somewhat seriously? Oh my. I’m sure that we could all come together and make some kind of fantastic drinking game out of this one. This is not a “good” Christmas movie, but it sure is a funny one, and probably for all of the wrong reasons. It’s worth a watch.
So that’s it! That’s my list of “must watch” holiday movies in my house. Do you have any favorites? Did I miss a big one?