Everyone has that tradition that they follow every year. For some, like myself, it involves crowding around the television with family and watching their favorite holiday movie under comfortable blankets. And seeing as there is no shortage of Christmas movies out there, the hardest part comes down to picking which one to watch. What always helps though is knowing that the classics can never steer you wrong, that much is always certain.
A film for the whole family to enjoy, right down to the little ones all wrapped up in their footie pajamas and clutching their stuffed animals, is How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Running for only 26 minutes, this book-turned-animated-movie was created by one of the greatest minds for children books, Dr. Seuss. A story that is simple and to the point, it’s not hard to see why this 1966 movie classic has captured the hearts of so many generations. Not to mention it’s extremely difficult to go wrong when you have Thurl Ravenscroft, the voice of Tony the Tiger, singing the infamous song “You’re A Mean One, Mister Grinch” or the legendary film actor, Boris Karloff, bringing life to the Grinch himself.
Or how about going back one year for the treasured, A Charlie Brown Christmas? The name of Charles M. Schulz is no stranger to anyone who has grown up with the Peanuts comics printed in the Sunday paper. Here is another opportunity for grandparents, parents, and kids alike to enjoy when they watch this piece of holiday spirit. This is another short film at 25 minutes but the length of a movie does not make it what it is; it is the story of learning the spirit of Christmas for what it is. It also helps that the musical score is composed by none other than Vince Guaraldi, a composer behind all the soundtracks for the Charlie Brown films.
Miracle on 34th Street is a movie that will warm your heart and remind you that no one is ever too old to believe. When the original mall-Santa is found drunk and completely unreliable, an old gentleman by the name of Kris Kringle is taken in to fill the position. And with commercialism running wildly rampant, people easily forget just what it means to celebrate Christmas. This is the lesson that Kris Kringle hopes to teach a Macy’s executive named Doris Walker as her daughter, Susan, sees that perhaps the story of Santa Claus may not be a silly story after all.
And during this time of hope and cheer, there are still some who may lose their hope and faith when times are looking grim. For one such fellow, George Bailey, he sees everything he has worked so hard to preserve in his hometown begin to fall apart. He blames himself and starts wondering if it would be better for all if he simply ceased to exist. It’s a Wonderful Life was released back in 1946 and has since become one of the biggest Christmas movie icons to date. Witnessing a man struggle with his own inner turmoil, while his friends and loved ones want only for him to forgive himself. Their love for him manifests into a guardian angel who, in turn, shows George what life would be like for those in a world without him.
When in doubt, though, if you haven’t any idea what movie to settle on, you can never go wrong with A Christmas Carol. Originally a classic tale written by Charles Dickens, over the decades the novella has been adapted to various versions made for movies, television, radio, and theater. To date, the most recent movie rendition was released in 2009, a computer animated film starring Jim Carrey as the voice of the famous bah-humbug of a man by the name of Ebenezer Scrooge, as well as the three ghosts, by Disney. For a family viewing, I would recommend either The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992) staring Kermit the Frog and his pals, or Mickey’s Christmas Carol (1983), which is filled with recognizable Disney characters. While those two are geared towards younger audiences, these are the ones that can be enjoyed by different generations because of the nostalgic feel that come with their versions in their story-telling.