We all have our holiday traditions, those things that help to make it Christmas (if you celebrate Christmas!) For me this includes four movies, in particular. I just realized, as I was putting this together, that the most recent one is nearly 40 years old… so I would love to hear what your favorites are – add some more recent movies to my list!
Miracle on 34th Street – I’m a sucker for this story, the sentimentality of it just seems perfect for the season, and it’s that beautiful story of the magic of the holidays overriding the cynicism that sometimes comes with adulthood. As a real believer in the magic of Christmas, this speaks to a core belief within me. I love Kris’s talk about the Imagine-nation and the power of it, explaining to little Susan about how to pretend – teaching a kid how to be a kid. I think this may have been one of the movies that helped to influence me in knowing that I never wanted to fully grow up, never lose the sense of childhood imagination and fun.
But, I have to say, I much prefer the older version (1947). It’s definitely dated in many ways, but it wins “favorite” spot because of that pivotal moment when Kris is on trial. The scene of mail carriers bringing in bag after bag of letters to Santa to dump on the judges desk has so much more power than a little talk about a controversial statement (“In God We Trust?”) on the dollar bill. Where is the power in that?
How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (Animated) – “Welcome Christmas, bring your light…. Welcome in the cold moonlight… Welcome Christmas while we stand, heart to heart and hand to hand.”
Sticking primarily to the book, with just the addition of a few songs and non-spoken scenes, I love this one. Seuss has always been a favorite of mine, and I love the Grinch. This version of the story just brings the drama to life and, I have to admit, that moment when the Grinch’s heart grows three sizes… that’s one of those key “meaning of Christmas” moments from my childhood.
White Christmas – Some of the songs in this one are classics, and I am a sucker for show-biz tales. This is a fun one for me to watch. It has singing, dancing, and hits emotional soft-spots. Again, it reflects its age, but I love it. I also grew up in an area where we didn’t get snow all that often, so the longing for snow on Christmas has always resonated with me.
Twas the Night Before Christmas – This one, in particular, is one I have treasured since childhood. This story starts with the return of letters that a town had written to Santa. It’s a story that includes both human and mice characters, starting with the opening lines of the classic “Twas the Night Before Christmas.” It focuses primarily on a Clockmaker and Father-Mouse (who helps him), and includes songs that I find running through my head at random times, including “Even a Miracle Needs a Hand” and “There more to the world than meets the eye.”
It’s a cute film, and explores those themes of magic, miracles, and belief. In this case it isn’t an adult that needs convincing (as is often the case), but rather a highly intellectual child who needs to realize the power of magic and wonder. But also that sometimes hard work needs to be put into action to make things happen – it isn’t about simply sitting back and waiting for good to happen, you have to be a force in that movement.
“You hope and I’ll hurry. You pray, and I’ll plan. We’ll do what’s necessary, because even a miracle needs a hand.”
What are your favorite Holiday Films? What do I need to see?