It's time to get the Christmas movies and TV specials DVDs out. Since Christmas is just four weeks away, we'd better get started. The stack of DVDs at Casa Wallace is about ready to go, but we might add something new. As bonafide Christmas junkies here's what our viewing will include this month.
1. A Christmas Story - We've already watched this one. A Wallace family tradition for over 20 years, we kick off the Christmas season by watching this 1980s classic on Thanksgiving night. We continue to laugh over "You'll shoot your eye out," "a major award," "I double-dog dare you," and "You used up all the glue on purpose. Then there's this little exchange between Ralphie and his mother after he said the worst word of all time:
Mother: All right. Now, are you ready to tell me where you heard that word?
Ralphie as Adult: [narrating] Now, I had heard that word at least ten times a day from my old man. He worked in profanity the way other artists might work in oils or clay. It was his true medium; a master. But, I chickened out and said the first name that came to mind.
This movie never fails to bring a smile and a good laugh. And if tradition holds, the USA network will run the movie continuously for 24 hours starting on Christmas Eve. My personal opinion is that if you can't crack a smile during this movie, then you're taking life way too seriously.
2. A Charlie Brown Christmas - Having been a kid when it first came out on television in the 60s, I love this animated story. The music by Vince Guaraldi is fabulous and I even have it on my iPod, so I can listen to it year-round. It never fails to bring a tear to my eye as the Christmas story is narrated by Linus. A must see every year. Charles Shultz was an absolute genius when he created this special.
3. It's a Wonderful Life - Yup, I cry when I watch this one too. I think it's entirely OK during the Christmas season to shed a few tears. It's the joy of the season that wells up inside and makes us feel good about what really matters - integrity, sacrifice, love, family, and a darn good ending. Frank Capra's low budget 1946 movie has become part of the American Christmas tradition. Get the DVD and watch it in front of a crackling fire, hot chocolate and tissues in hand. A stellar cast with James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore, and Thomas Mitchell doesn't disappoint--ever. And if you've wondered how Bert and Ernie got their names on Sesame Street, you'll find the answer in this movie.
4. Scrooged - With the hilarious Bill Murray, this 1988 film is an adaptation of A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens. Joining Bill are Karen Allen, John Fosythe, Carol Kane, John Murray, Robert Goulet, and many more excellent actors. Carol Kane is absolutely hysterical as the Ghost of Christmas Present. A movie that is a hoot.
5. How The Grinch Stole Christmas - Boris Karloff narrates the original and is the only one I'll watch. Another perfectly told story that needs no remakes or improvements. Who doesn't love Dr. Seuss's Max the dog as he struggles to haul the Grinch's sleigh? And as the Whos sing the strange, but compelling carol in the village square, you might actually join in. Thurl Ravenscroft provides the outstanding bass vocals on "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch." He was also Tony, the Tiger for Kellogg's Frosted Flakes. (free trivia)
6. National Lampoon's Family Christmas Vacation - We all want the perfect family Christmas and place such high expectations on ourselves and our families for the holiday. But, as Chevy Chase learns in this modern classic, the family stuff is a little overrated. Crazy relatives, snooty neighbors, a squirrel, a large Rottweiler, and a kidnapping by your wife's redneck cousin can almost ruin your life. Almost. It's a laugh out loud movie to lighten the stress of the holidays.
7. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer - I was and still am fascinated with the animation in this one, which went along with the Norelco TV ad (the electric shaver that zipped through the snow). You have to be of a certain age to remember that one. Burl Ives narrates and this is another production that cannot be improved upon. Amazing that three Christmas specials from the 1960s continue to have such popularity over 50 years later. The music is great in this one too. Isle of Misfit Toys, Silver and Gold, and Have a Holly, Jolly Christmas are part of the musical landscape.
8. Christmas with the Kranks - a movie based on the John Grisham novel, Skipping Christmas. Starring Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis, I firmly believe this would happen to my husband and me if we decided to forego Christmas. A 2004 film, this is the only one after the turn of the century that's been added to our pile. It's a good laugh, heartwarming, and worth viewing this December.
There are lots more movies that may get watched - White Christmas, Miracle on 34th Street, Holiday Inn, The Bishop's Wife, Home Alone, to name a few. What are your favorites?