Our street is aglow with candy cane lights, snow globe Santas, and icicle lights. The chilly nights bring the smell of wood fires in the fireplace. The Kelly family is beginning its holiday traditions. With them will be movie night. But what movie? The call went out to friends for favorite flicks to watch over the holidays.
“I’m corny,” confessed sis Cathy. “Our family’s all-time favorite holiday film is My Favorite Wife with Cary Grant and Irene Dunn [$17.99 on Amazon — all prices are from Amazon unless noted otherwise]. The movie ends on a Christmas note, because Irene tells Cary that she’ll consider taking him back at Christmas, so Cary roots around the attic, finds a Santa suit, and comes back as Santa for an answer. That movie never fails to bring me to tears.”
Friend Bernice is a fan of Holiday Inn ($14.99). “Bing Crosby singing ‘White Christmas’; Fred Astaire dancing as if he’s drunk at New Year’s but somehow making it shine. They simply do not make them like that anymore.”
Her hubby Frank suggested Emmett Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas ($9.99). “I grew up with the book, and then the TV show came out in ’77. It’s always been a minor-league Christmas special, but I would prefer to call it a cult classic. Its homey, reality-based Muppets can’t compete with the inspired stop-motion madness of things like A Year Without a Santa Claus [$12.99], but that’s sort of the point. It’s a homey story about homey virtues and the way they bump up against flash and fame. There’s not an ounce of supernatural shenanigans in sight — no Santa, even — just love and endurance. But it’s a great Christmas story, just like ‘The Gift of the Magi,’ which is pretty clearly the inspiration. And I’ll try to say this without giving too much away: it’s one of the earliest examples I can remember of a story where you want it to end one way, but looking back, you’re glad it ended the other way. I’m a big sloppy Irishman, so I bawl like a baby every time I see this. So sincere, yet they put it over without getting schmaltzy.”
“The Maureen O’Hara Miracle on 34th Street is a holiday classic [$10.99],” said friend John. “And it seems they show Home Alone 7000 times each year during the season,” he added.
“During my single years,” laughed sis Nancy, “when I had nothing better to do, it seemed every December, there I would be, 11:00 at night, watching A Christmas Story [$9.49]. There are some classic moments in it: the leg lamp in the family home’s front window; the boy stuffed into a snowsuit stumbling down the road; and who can forget the line in the movie, ‘My father wove a rich tapestry of profanity.’”
Nancy’s movie suggestion brought a hail of laughter. One of our neighbors proudly displays his own leg lamp ($199.99 at redriderleglamps.com) every December in his front window — proof that you can indeed buy anything.
“A Christmas Story is just a bit too irreverent for me,” offered friend Meg. “I like to catch a showing of It’s a Wonderful Life [directed by Frank Capra, 1946, $13.99]. You’ve got to start crying at ‘Auld Lang Syne.’ And I love hearing Jimmy Stewart yell, ‘Mary, Mary?’ If you don’t emote with Jimmy, then there is something wrong with you.”
Friend Erica offered some cartoons and a religious flick. “As kids, we’d always catch a broadcast showing of Rudolph [$7.99], Frosty [$7.99], A Charlie Brown Christmas [$13.99], and The Little Drummer Boy [$7.99]. Now, for my own family, I’m hoping to start the tradition of watching The Nativity Story [with Keisha Castle-Hughes, 2006, $7.99] each Christmas. We saw it in the theater when it came out, and it is fantastic.”
“Every year I was spooked out by one or another version of A Christmas Carol,” laughed friend Susan. “My mom was a connoisseur of versions of A Christmas Carol, and some were scarier than others. I hated the 1951 Alastair Sim rendition [$10.49] and the 1984 George C. Scott version [$7.99], but the worst on my list was the dark 1939 Reginald Owen Christmas Carol [$9.99]. I think that was the beginning of my dislike for Dickens.”
She added, “I breathed a sigh of relief when the night came to watch How the Grinch Stole Christmas” [$11.99].