Patrick is ready to put up the Christmas tree as I write. I am wishing that we wouldn't have to drag any of that sh*t out this year. It's not that I WANT to be a Scrooge, it's just coming at a bad time of year this year. Its not like I am surprised, "Whoops, how did Christmas end up in December?" but just this once, couldn't it come in April?
So I am trying to create the spirit since I am not finding it naturally in myself. In the past, feelings of Christmas would probably would have been invoked with the thoughts of baking cookies. While I am sure I will still do a little of that this year, I don't want to use food to put me in the Christmas spirit. I am trying to put that part of my life in the "Christmas Past" category. Back to the question at hand: Not to sound fresh but, What can I do to help me get me in the mood?
It occurred to me that when I thought about the things I loved about the Christmas season as a child it was all about Santa. Nothing brought the story of Santa to life to a seven year old like Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and since I am a bit old to try to sit on Santa's lap I think watching a few Christmas movies may do the trick. I decided to share with you my all-time favorite Christmas movies and a little bit about why I love them. Here Goes!
Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)- I have loved this movie since the dawn of time (I was born in 1970, so for me it IS the dawn of time ) I always loved listening to Burl Ives sing "Silver & Gold" and his voice just IS the sound of Christmas. I was also always fascinated by the way when he moved (he was the snowman) there was snow wakes trailing behind him. Then of course there was Rudolf, and the way the others picked on him made me cry. I didn't have as much sympathy for the elf who wanted to be a dentist though, even then I was able to identify a dork when I saw it. (Ya, I was a bit jaded then, too.) But I over-looked the dorkiness of the dentist and loved every misfit in the movie anyway, even the Bumble, who scared the crap out of me. When I became a mom, this was one of the first videos I bought for my son. He loved it too and watched it any time of year until it finally broke.
A Christmas Story(1983)- I remember the first time I saw this movie watching it with my step-dad. He was a child from the same era as Ralphie, the lead character. I have rarely heard him laugh so hard as when he watched this movie, so his laughter added to the overall enjoyment of it for me. Not to take away the quality of this movie because it is so well written I would have loved it had I watched it alone. Jean Shepard wrote the book "In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash" and this movie was created from one the chapters of his book. He also narrated the movie, and played the guy in the line to see Santa that tells Ralphie, "The line ENDS here. It STARTS there..." . He was also well known for his story telling on the radio and it is rumored that he did most of his radio shows "off the cuff". A Christmas Story is the classic movie that reminds you of every coveted toy you ever wanted for Christmas and the joy of finally getting it. I also loved the way Ralphie's "old man" cursed when he was upset but it kind of sounded like an adult on The Peanuts cartoons. You know he's talking but you can't understand a word. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the movie, hard to believe, huh?
Christmas Vacation(1989)- This is the movie that made ME laugh the most because it most accurately represents what MY Christmas' were like. Ya, it is a characature of a family, but there is allot of truth behind it. The stress over dealing with family including the crazy one, the low class one, the idealist, and the diplomat. Sounds like an average American family to me! The pressure of "creating memories", keeping up with the Jones, and the importance of sitting down together for a traditional family dinner. Yep, sums up our house at Christmas. Taking a moment to laugh at the ridiculousness of the pressure we put on ourselves to have everything perfect is what it movie is all about. Watching it reminds me it's okay to just let some things go...
The Ref (1994)- I don't know if this is really a "Christmas" movie, as much as it is a movie set during Christmas. I love it for it's biting humor, sarcasm, and overall bitterness. It is not for everyone for sure, but it is right up my alley. Kevin Spacey plays a man emasculated by his mother and Judi Davis plays his passive-aggressive wife. The fights these two have are hilarious in that they are ridiculous to the spectator, but you know you've had the same kind of arguments when no one was watching. The controlling mother in the movie is perfectly played by Glynis Johns (also in Mary Poppins!) and is the recipient of one of the best lines in the movie. It's when Kevin's character, Lloyd says: "You know what I'm going to get you next Christmas, Mom? A big wooden cross, so that every time you feel unappreciated for your sacrifices, you can climb on up and nail yourself to it." I am sure that I laugh so hard at this line NOT because it reminds me of anyone in my family tree or anything...
Miracle on 34th Street (1947)- I know there was a remake in 1994, but I prefer the original. The funny thing is, I don't think I had seen the original but only a few years before the remake. I was late to the parade on this one, but better late than never. I found it kind of amusing that it was released May of 1947, not in the winter months. Kind of hard to see myself going to the theater in May to watch a Christmas movie, but its release date obviously didn't hurt it, it was the winner of several Academy Awards, and besides, things were a bit different back then. Movies weren't at your beck and call as they are now and I am sure some theaters didn't get it until Christmas. I bet you didn't get asked if you wanted to super size your popcorn for twenty-five cents more, either. Anyway, this is the movie that answers, "Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Clause"- all you have to do is believe. Natalie Wood was a real doll in this movie too. I always thought she was such a pretty lady growing up and I admired her big brown eyes. (I think because I have brown eyes too and in Hollywood, the standard actress or model was blue-eyed when I was a kid. It was a relief to see someone different- like me!) It was easy to recognize her, she hadn't changed all that much. We own this movie, two versions of the 1947 flick. The black & white and the colorized version. We ALWAYS watch the black & white.
It's a Wonderful Life (1946)- Another one I was a little late to the party on. I may have seen it as a kid, but I sure don't remember if I did. That may be because it became so cliche for so many years that the channel was always changed by the hierarchy that was in control of the TV as soon as it came on. Thank goodness in 1998 copyright issues over the film were resolved and the film began playing only once a year, or I may have never seen the dang thing. I am glad I finally did. I now know why it is considered to be one of the best films ever made. It's the movie to watch to make you appreciate the hand you have been given. It's the one that tells you the only thing in life that really matters is the people you love. It's the one that makes you hope every time you hear a bell ring that another angel earned his wings.
That wraps up the best of MY favorite Christmas movies. But there are some honorable mentions that I need to put out there as well:
How the Grinch Stole Christmas- As a kid for me it was like watching a car wreck- The Grinch scared me to death but I couldn't look away. I always felt the most pity for the dog. But by the end your heart grows bigger for Mr. Grinch.
A Charlie Brown Christmas- I LOVED Snoopy as a child and I can remember being 2 years old and throwing a fit in the store because I saw I stuffed "Stoopy" and thought he would die of loneliness if he didn't come home with me. Somehow my mom snuck it past me and was safely under the tree that year. Mom's are great, huh? (I still have him, by the way!) This was MY first "red-rider" experience.
Scrooged- I just always loved Bill Murray and this movie was cute. I loved the way the Ghost of Christmas Present kicked the crap out of him and the way the guy Bill Murray's character fired just has a total break down. Tons of cameos and this movie still makes me laugh.
I am sure I missed a few. What are yours? Which ones I have I mindlessly forgotten or which ones do I still need to see? Hopefully I will be able to catch a few of these this year. I already feel a bit more in the spirit!