Call me Chrazy, but I love Christmas. By the time the wish bone has dried and the last of the leftover Thanksgiving turkey has emptied, it’s go time. Movies, musics and everything else that comes along with the holiday season enters the picture.
I wrote this post a few weeks ago, but the lingering Halloween candy still rearing its ugly head made me feel a bit weird about posting. But now that the holidays are officially upon us (thanks Black Friday insanity) and all signs of Halloween AND Thanksgiving are behind us, I decided there’s no time like the present to post. This week, in spirit of the much anticipated holiday season, I am sharing my top 5 favorite holiday movies.
5. The Family Stone – I saw this movie when it hit theaters in 2005 and loved it instantly. The following spring I bought it when it came to DVD and that winter, watched it over and over. If you’ve seen it you know the ensemble cast is brilliant and despite the movie’s plot of siblings home for the holidays weaved alongside a larger and more serious story of the matriarch’s (played by the infallible Diane Keaton) battle with cancer, the movie is surprisingly funny and touching. The town’s setting is Dickensian, the large family lovable, and the story’s ending, which visits the family’s Christmas one year later, inspiring, reminding us all that hope is truly the strongest message of the season.
4. Polar Express – I am forever indebted to my elementary school teacher Mrs. Tosher for introducing me to this book in 1986. Fresh off its Caldecott win she discovered the book at a conference and brought it back to her class where it became a staple in her class for years to come. Many years later while shopping in Barnes & Nobles I stumbled upon it and was instantly taken back to my childhood. That Christmas when I found it wrapped under the tree waiting for me the smile it brought to my face that morning the same as when I hear it for the first time nearly two decades earlier. The pictures were just as beautiful, the story just as sweet, and as it came to the big screen a few years later, I hoped the movie would deliver some of the book’s magic. But I was wrong. It delivered all of it and more. Last year when my 3yo’s passion for trains hit a fever pitch we watched it together and needless to say after that first viewing, it was on repeat throughout the rest of the season. Because it’s the one movie my son can still watch while snuggled up next to me, his love and joy of the film matching mine, easily makes this a top 5. I hope many decades from now he can have the same pleasure watching with his children and that old thing called a book, something ancient from grandma’s house, finds its way on his coffee table every holiday season as well.
3. A Christmas Story – Thanks to TBS, just about every family knows the story of Ralphie and his never ending desire for a Red Rider BB Gun for Christmas. The Leg Lamp burns bright in the game room at my in laws and every season, despite it being on replay on cable, I can’t help but watch it. “You’ll shoot your eye out,” will always make me laugh and the story’s setting of 1940’s Indiana is pure Americana. There are too many scenes that in December become quotes whenever out shopping or doing the dozen things we do during the holidays. But since 1989 its been a staple in my home, first as VHS and now DVD, just as I am sure it has for many.
2. Christmas Vacation – I have been watching the Griswold’s Vacation movies since I can remember. While the first movie takes the cake – the summer pilgrimage to Wally World reminiscent of many families’ cross country adventures in the family truckster – the franchise did itself proud when it released Christmas Vacation. From Uncle Eddy’s green dickie under the white turtleneck, to the Marty Moose eggnog glasses, to the squirrel in the Christmas Tree, the movie is hysterical and delivers a spot-on parody of the kind of chaos that only Christmas can deliver.
1. Love Actually – There are a lot of movies that have become holiday staples over the years. When Love Actually hit theaters eight years ago I wasn’t an immediate fan. I actually didn’t see it until the following holiday season and of course, no surprise as it involved love and the holidays, I loved it. The stories are fun, ensemble cast brilliant (Bill Nighy is hysterical, Colin Firth swoonable) and the soundtrack strong. While Kelly Clarkson’s “The Trouble with Love Is” is usually the song associated with the film, it’s the song at the end which anchors the movie. Featuring one of my all time favorite’s “God Only Knows” by the Beach Boys, the clips of families, friends and loved ones greeting one another at the airport brings me to tears every since time (yes, even now as I watched) and in simple way reminds us, as so eloquently put by The British Priminister narrator (played by Hugh Grant), whether its the holidays or life in general, “Love actually is all around.”
So there you go. My top 5 holiday films. If I had a top 10 list you would of course see some classics in there (Fred Claus, Santa Claus movies with Tim Allen, Miracle on 34th Street, Elf). But these are the handful that make it feel like the holidays and by sharing my love of them with you, hope you might enjoy as much as I do, too.