Favorite Christmas Movies, Then and Now

Many of the Christmas movies I saw as a kid are still favorites now that I’m an adult, partly because they’re good movies, but also for their nastalgic appeal. Being in a household with two special needs brothers meant watching many childish movies, some which most people would probably grow out of. I don’t care how old I am, though: The Muppet Christmas Carol still keeps me entertained. It’s a classic tale, and having it acted out by lovable puppets makes it comedic, although it still rings true to the seriousness of the story. Prancer was also a good hit for my animal-loving family.


And, of course, we saw all the Rankin/ Bass Christmas Classics, including Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. My dad was entertained by the Winter Warlock in Santa Claus is Comin’ To Town. He used to sing, “You put one foot in front of the other…”


The Year Without a Santa Claus holds a very special memory: one year when I was a kid, my aunt came over and she, my mom, my sister and I decorated our Christmas tree while watching it. The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus, based on the book by L. Frank Baum, is my favorite of the Bass/ Rankin films, partly because of the shared memory I have of watching it with my sister, but mainly because of the fantasy element to it. Besides the flying reindeer, we see imps, nyphms, and the evil Awgwas.


Unfortunately, my family took elf a little too seriously: to this day my mom makes spaghetti and puts syrup on it. A better tradition, I think, would be putting “syrup” in coffee, like Buddy: 


This isn’t the extent of my childhood Christmas experience. I could discuss Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas, the Home Alone series, The Polar Express (can you hear the bell ring? Do you believe?), A Charlie Brown Christmas (and how we bought a Charlie Brown Christmas tree for my dad), and other movies and memories, but there are some really great adult Christmas movies to watch as well.


If you’re looking for comedy, I highly recommend National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. The animation in the beginning credits is a testament to the hilarious scenes you would be watching. Or perhaps you’d prefer some winter classics. I’ve been hanging out with another aunt often, and she educated me with the Classic holiday experiences of Winter Wonderland, Holiday Inn, and It’s a Wonderful Life. Christmas With the Kranks, based on John Grisham’s novel, Skipping Christmas, is a funny, realistic portrayal of what Christmastime really means and how you can easily lose sight of it.


I’m a romantic, and I like to see smooching in movies. Love Actually is a conglomeration of different love stories, both experienced and unrequited, which keeps things interesting. It flips through the lives of different characters who are all connected in some way, which unifies the movie and shows that everyone can have a love in their life. The tone is overall serious (we are talking about “the total agony of being in love”), but comic relief is provided to alleviate this. Trust me. Just watch it and you’ll be running into the arms of your lover, or daydreaming about being under the mistletoe with the one you love.


Perhaps you’ve had a tough love life and need to get away. In that case, watch The Holiday and take a vacation with the main characters, both who are going through a heartbreak and want to escape. They switch houses, one in L.A. and one in England, and find love unexpectedly on a different continent.


Four Christmases is a comedy that forces an unmarried couple to really get to know each other. But will this be their undoing? The couple tries to go away for the holiday to avoid their families (much like how the Kranks in Christmas With the Kranks escape the holidays in general, and their persistent neighbors), but they’re stuck and forced to experience four Christmases, one with each of their parents. There’s drama and comedy, and truthfulness that Christmas is a crazy time of year.


May some of these movies provide some Christmas pleasure and bring happy memories of family and friends. Happy watching!


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