“Where do you think you’re going? Nobody’s leaving. Nobody’s walking out on this fun, old-fashioned family Christmas. No, no. We’re all in this together. This is a full-blown, four-alarm holiday emergency here. We’re gonna press on, and we’re gonna have the hap, hap, happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap-danced with Danny Kaye.”
This is the time of year that a lot of Christmas movies are shown on almost every television outlet known to humanity. Of course there are many that are absolutely timeless such as “Miracle on 34th Street,” “White Christmas” and “It’s a Wonderful Life.” There are also ones of various religious themes, usually involving the birth of Jesus, like no duh, it’s Christmas. Unfortunately most of these films as classic as they are bore me to tears. Yes they have nice messages and tug at the heartstrings but without wanting to sound too much like Scrooge I get bored by them. I guess part of this is a generational thing. The ones set in the 1930s and 1940s are from a different era, an era that I know from history books and family members but not something that is a part of my life. It’s like the film “The Bell’s of Saint Mary’s” is about the Roman Catholic Church of a half century ago, not the one that I know. They are fictional and while touching are indelibly tied to their time. The religious themed films tended often to be major productions and Hollywood Gospel. Not that there’s anything wrong with that but I’m sorry Cecil B. De Mille did not write the 5th Gospel, or the 6th Book of Moses (You have to know your Luther Bible for that one.)
Instead every year there are several Christmas movies and television shows that I cannot live without seeing. Of the television shows my all time favorite is “A Charlie Brown Christmas” followed by “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” As a kid I had a deep affinity for both Charlie Brown and Linus. The frustration of Charlie Brown with the commercialization of Christmas was something that resonated in me at a young age. Likewise Linus’ reading of the Luke’s account of the Angel’s message to the shepherds always brings tears to my eyes. As for the Grinch, and I mean the television Grinch where Boris Karloff voiced the part of the Grinch not the Jim Carey movie version it has always been a favorite of mine. I find the plot of the Grinch to steal Christmas from the “Whos” of “Whoville” to be a masterful account of how the message of Christmas can touch even the smallest and coldest of hearts. Of course I absolutely loved the Grinch’s dog “Max.”
As far as movies I have watched “Scrooged” and “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” almost religiously and am doing so tonight. I relate to both of the main characters in both movies. That’s not necessarily a compliment to me, but when I watch both there are times that I almost need to cover my eyes because of the resemblance, especially the scene in Christmas Vacation” where Clark Griswold, played by Chevy Chase starts kicking his decorative reindeer and sleigh across the lawn when he can’t get his house lights on and his rants about when his Christmas Tree goes up in flames and when his family tries to leave are scary close to the way that I can act under the stress of the holidays. The Abbess says that this indeed is me and I agree. Three other films that get me are “Home Alone” and “A Christmas Story” and though not really a Christmas story “Trading Places.” These are what I grew up with and which were the films about Christmas as it takes place in the United States that I became an adult in that typify my era, not that of my grandparents. I think that is why they are my favorites and not the classics of a bygone time. Of course there is the “Festivus” episode of “Seinfeld” that is almost scary in how things were in my house with my folks, I think at times we only lacked the “feats of strength” and the Festivus Pole to complete the picture. Likewise when George makes up a fake charity called “The Human Fund: Money for People” to give to the folks at Kruger Industrial Smoothing it cracks me up because I know that there are people who give gifts in other people’s names to charity.
Finally I like the “X-Files” Christmas episode where Ed Asner and Lilly Tomlin played ghosts in a haunted house that Agents Scully and Mulder get trapped in while investigating a case.
Okay, so these are not the classics of a bygone era, but they are my classics and I will enjoy Charlie Brown, Linus, the Grinch, Clark Griswold, Frank Cross, the Costanzas and the rest of my warped favorites as I rediscover Christmas.