Saturday Six #7: Christmas Movies

I love Christmas, so you’ll have to forgive another holiday-themed Saturday Six. (There will be one next week, too, so consider yourself warned!) Yesterday on my way to work, the radio station was doing their daily brain-buster game, and the question was, “Fifty percent of people surveyed list this as their favorite holiday activity.” I live super close to work and didn’t have the phone number, so I couldn’t call or wait for the answer, but my guess would have been watching Christmas movies. I think we all have our favorites, the ones we don’t miss every year, and so here are my six.

Mickey’s Christmas Carol. A 30-minute animated version is about all I need of the Charles Dickens classic, and I love how this one is done. I especially love how colorful it is. When we recorded this from TV onto a VHS tape in the 80s, it also included three Disney shorts: Huey, Dewey, and Louie having a snowball fight with Donald; Chip and Dale terrorizing Pluto from a Christmas tree; and Goofy learning how to ski. It was a whole experience. In terms of A Christmas Carol, though, I will also give a nod to The Man Who Invented Christmas, which I just saw this year. It not only gives me enough of the story, but also a peek into Charles Dickens’s writing process, and what writer wouldn’t love that?

White Christmas. I hold that this is really the first ever “Hallmark” Christmas movie. Big-time city-folk go to the country and save a dying family business and honor a WWII hero by surprise, plus a huge romantic misunderstanding and reconciliation…sound familiar? I enjoy this movie so much, it’s kind of curious that I’ve never gotten on the “modern” Hallmark Christmas movie bandwagon. Although those typically don’t have music, and the songs in White Christmas are so lovely, and that closing scene with the red and the white and the snow…my heart sings right along.

It’s a Wonderful Life. We can sit around and argue about whether or not It’s a Wonderful Life and Die Hard are actually Christmas movies, but I’m not jumping into that fray. Call me a hypocrite, but I like It’s a Wonderful Life and I don’t like Die Hard, and it speaks more about the kinds of stories I like than whether or not they’re officially “Christmas.” This is one I typically watch while I’m addressing Christmas cards. I love how it illustrates that a life is made up of so many part, events, and experiences, and though you may never know your impact, it’s still there. And you know what makes me cry even more than the ending? $17.50. If you know, you know.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas. The Boris Karloff animated one. ONLY the Boris Karloff animated one. I am a Grinch purist through and through (and through and through). It’s difficult to turn a children’s picture book into a full-length feature (notice The Polar Express did not make my list), so a 30-minute cartoon is the perfect outlet for this story. My favorite part is at the end where successively smaller waiters pop out of covered dishes until the smallest one offers Cindy Lou Who a strawberry. Oh, and Max. He’s adorable and hilarious.

Home Alone. Even writing about it, I run the risk of simply listing a boatload of quotes from the movie because they all speak for themselves. We first saw this in the theaters when we lived in Florida, 1200 miles from the vast majority of our family. I remember how tough the holidays were, and let me tell you, that scene where Kevin is walking down the street, witnessing family gatherings through glowing windows? It destroyed my mom. But we still loved it from the beginning, and more recently, it’s been even more fun to watch while listening to my kids giggle like crazy.

A Christmas Story. I did not like this movie growing up. I found Ralphie very annoying, and wanting a BB gun wasn’t something I could really connect with. The story is also a bit disjointed (as evidenced by the fact that there’s a TV marathon every year, and you can catch the whole thing in bits and pieces and still get the whole idea). I warmed to it a little as a student of history because the 1940s atmosphere is very evocative. But what really won me over? Becoming a parent and then watching how excited the Old Man gets at the end when he “spots” the hidden gift from Santa. In Ralphie’s eyes, it’s pure Christmas magic, and as a parent, one of my greatest joys is to share that magic with my kids. So now this movie is pretty special to me, and I love to watch it while wrapping gifts on Christmas Eve.

I have to say, this was a whole lot better than trying to answer a Facebook questionnaire that asked my favorite Christmas movie! Clearly I don’t have one, and I’m not sure I could ever pick just one. I definitely need all of these to round out my holiday movie-watching experience.

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