This year, so many people are complaining about the difficulty of getting into the Christmas spirit when the weather is hovering around 70 degrees across the East Coast.
I don’t share that problem. I have no issues wearing sandals and having open windows while the Christmas tree is glowing against the backdrop of Christmas music blaring on the radio.
Nonetheless, I still enjoy spending Christmas Eve (and Christmas night, if I’m able to stay awake) sitting on the couch and watching Christmas movies. Regardless of the weather, they always help me feel a bit more Christmassy. (Though I would argue that my definition of “Christmassy” is probably not typical!)
So today, I thought I’d share my top five Christmas movies (in no particular order).
- A Christmas Story. This movie is usually on for 24 hours straight on Christmas Eve, and I watched it one year while home with the flu for almost all 24. The movie has a classic feel that makes it seem older than it actually is. I like how the humor mixes in with typical holiday spirit. I also feel that the filmmaker worked hard to keep a literary feel to the narrator and make effective use of each scene. If you’ve never seen this film, you’ll probably appreciate the nostalgia and creativity as we see the world through the eyes of a young boy. I enjoy that the family portrayed is far from perfect.
- How the Grinch Stole Christmas (the cartoon version—yes, I know it’s not technically long enough to be considered an actual movie). I don’t know how many times I watched this on TV over the years, and now I have it on DVD. It almost seems like a cliché now, but it’s definitely found its place in the cannon of Christmas videos. I’m sure I don’t need to summarize about the Grinch and his nemeses, but there’s something uplifting about the people of Who-ville coming together and singing on Christmas morning even after the Grinch has stolen their things. It always made me think about what was truly important on Christmas rather than focus on all the gifts that were so exciting as a kid.
- Gremlins. As a kid, my sister and I were obsessed with Gizmo. We loved how cute he was, and we liked the forbidden nature of the rules: avoid exposing him to bright light, don’t get him wet, and don’t feed him after midnight. There’s something magical about those rules, and despite the bloody mess that follows the main characters, I love worlds in which magic simply makes sense. Re-watching the film this year, I forgot how violent some of the scenes are (for instance, the protagonist’s mother at one point throws a gremlin into a blender!). Even so, the film is not blatantly bloody, and the gremlins inject enough humor into the narrative to keep it relatively light. And once again, the family is far from functional, and the Christmas is far from stereotypical.
- The Nightmare Before Christmas. I loved this movie ever since I saw it in the theatre. It makes use of my favorite holiday, Halloween, while still blending in a little bit of that “Christmas magic” (without going over-the-top). The songs are instant classics, and the creepy nature of Halloween Town never truly leaves the story, even when we’re fully immersed in the Christmas aspects of it. As an example—there is a scene in which the US military tries to shoot down protagonist Jack as he rides through the sky pretending to be Santa. The film is so imaginative that it’s as if my childhood musings were transferred right to the screen. I usually watch this one between Halloween and Christmas.
- Krampus. This is a new one this year. I saw it in the theatre a couple of weeks ago. It’s rated PG-13, but it definitely fits into the horror genre (albeit mild horror). The premise: Krampus is an old legend about a magical creature similar to Santa, only opposite—in that he seeks out naughty children and punishes them, with brutal and deadly force. What I enjoyed about this movie is that it didn’t take itself too seriously. There were moments of humor in it despite the grim nature of the narrative. It’s definitely a movie to avoid if you like those classic Hallmark-style films; but for me, I enjoyed the fact that the movie acknowledges that Christmas is not immune to nightmares. The DVD is already on my Christmas wish list for next year.
Regardless of your preference of film or video, I above all am thankful for the resources, security, and time to be able to enjoy at least one Christmas movie each year on Christmas Eve. There’s a lot to be thankful for in life, and not many of those reasons fit under the tree.
Wishing you a Happy Christmas and a Healthy, Happy New Year!