Christmas Specials

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year!
Well, depending on how you feel about it, maybe, maybe not.  For me, it will be once I’m done with this semester and headed home.  And then I can double down on the advent calendar, gift wrapping, holiday preparation whole nine yards.

Because college has seriously cramped my festive style.  (I miss the 25 days of Christmas on ABC (Is it ABC?)).  All they do here at university is get drunk at holiday parties. And the guys next door (not the ones we share a bathroom with, the other ones) blast Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas is You while I try to do my thesis. Bah Humbug.
Finals aren’t even over until the 21st.

I’ve done a bit better this year.  I cornered a children’s choir and made them sing Go Tell it on the Mountain, which is one of my favorite carols. Okay, actually I ran into them and they were going to sing anyway. But it was such an unexpected coup and I feel so deviously satisfied.
I also got to watch a single Christmas movie one of the days after Thanksgiving.  Still far behind my young self, but doing better than some recent years.
And a horse-drawn carriage giving free rides stopped in front of me today so I hopped on and they took me around the block, which was lovely.  The horses were named Ben and Luke, a Clydesdale and Percheron x Thoroughbred. And I’m very satisfied because I guessed their breeds correctly.  My horse knowledge hasn’t all wasted away.
And I think the performance of the Messiah will be happening soon at the chapel.  That’s always excellent. Last year I went and worked on my fifty page lab report. Woo!

So here’s a list of the cheesy Christmas specials that I’m missing (for now).  They’re kind of in the order of what I love most, which mostly reflects what I liked as a child rather than what is ‘good’. And I’m omitting movies I haven’t seen (and movies I couldn’t make it through- like Arthur Christmas).

  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas (cartoon): I always knew this would be the ultimate.
  • A Walt Disney Christmas: This is a VHS tape we have that I pretty much live for come the holidays. It’s a bunch of holiday shorts from Disney.  It starts with Once Upon a Wintertime, which is lovely, but my favorite is definitely Santa’s Workshop and the toys being delivered to the family and the littlest son with the button up butt patch onesie (I don’t know what to call those) gets a pupper.
  • It’s a Wonderful Life: WOW. 1) Jimmy Stewart. 2) existential crises. 3) Zuzu ❤ What an adorable name. 4) Lionel Barrymore/Mr. Potter= villain goals. 5) Donna Reed is gorgeous. 6) BUFFALO GALS!
  • A Christmas Carol (with Alastair Sim): My parents have always been huge fans of this but I only started appreciating it more in high school. It was a bit much for little me to handle. But it’s lovely. Melodrama with that excellent dash of Dickensian humor. And the opening line- Old Marley was as dead as a doornail- is unforgettable.
  • A Charlie Brown Christmas: Awww, so many feels. And the song Christmas Time is Here is so lovely and melancholic.
  • Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer: Burl Ives is a dapper snowman and that takes on importance as everything else begins to annoy me. Santa is a hungry brutal and bitter old man who hates diversity in his inbred reindeer population. Also fond of Hermy because I had a friend who reminded me of him. Favorite song is Have a Holly Jolly Christmas.
  • The Grinch (2000 live action): This may be the worst movie ever but I love it. It’s bright and colorful and gaudy and sometimes kind of funny.  Also Jenny from Gossip Girl is Cindy Lou Who and that is WEIRD.
  • Rise of the Guardians: I only watched this for the first time this year but I highly recommend it.  It’s an animation in which a group of superheroes (the guardians) including the Tooth Fairy, a Russian Santa, the Sandman, an Australian Easter Bunny, and Jack Frost must come together to protect children from the bogeyman, Pitch. I don’t understand why it’s not universally beloved.
  • Elf: Eminently quotable. “Not now, Arctic Puffin”. The quotes from Elf are a whole other list.
  • Miracle on 34th Street: My mummy loves this one so it’s on my list because her love for it is infectious. And I love the janitor boy whose name I have forgotten.
  • Huit Femmes: This is a French Christmas murder mystery musical. Sound weird? It is.
  • A Muppet’s Christmas Carol: Okay, but this is brilliant. And like the above, it’s a musical.  Kermit is Bob Cratchit.  Fuzzy Bear is Fezziwig.  And Scrooge? None other than Michael Caine.
  • Trading Places: I can’t believe I had to come back and edit this one in, how could I forget it?
  • Christmas in Connecticut: The 1945 one, not the remake please. I know nothing about the remake and I don’t want to. This one has Barbara Stanwyck and that’s all I need. Also Sakall, one of the greatest character actors of all time.
  • A Christmas Story: A classic that I started to watch just a bit too late in life for it to be as close to my heart as it should be. Missed opportunities. And I have, in fact, gotten my tongue stuck to something, so this is very relatable.
  • Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town: This is also difficult. Because at some point you realize that If You Sit on My Lap Today is wildly inappropriate and Jessica, the love interest, is… I don’t know. This movie is these days better put on in the background and not openly discussed or acknowledged. But Fred Astaire is a stop motion mailman.
  • The Year Without a Santa Claus: This is difficult because it’s a very stupid premise but it has Heat Miser and Cold Miser, of whom I am very fond.
  • Frosty the Snowman: As my dad says “Frosty Sucks”.  I don’t know that I agree, but I don’t think it’s the most brilliant and even childhood me didn’t watch it much.
  • The Bishop’s Wife: Truthfully this would be higher if I could remember it better.  It has Cary Grant. And he’s an angel. But we already knew that.
  • Prep and Landing: Also can’t remember this animation beyond thinking it was a cute little adventure-suspense thing about proving yourself. And apparently it has sequels now?
  • Love Actually: Don’t kill me, but I don’t like it. Hugh Grant is his usual doof self (not a bad thing) but I don’t like his- or any- of the story arcs. And Keira Knightley. Ad Liam Neeson. And Colin Firth. Waste of good actors.  Bill Nighy’s old rocker guy is the best part.
  • Rudolph’s Shiny New Year: Points taken away for not being an actual Christmas movie (and also for just being very weird). But I like the whale.  The other characters are all quite irritating. The evil bird is okay.  I like the fairy tale island.  Good for teaching children about archipelagos.
  • White Christmas: The theater, the theater, what happened to the theater? Oh, I wish I was back in the army. Points taken off for improper use of the subjunctive.  And the song Sisters. That some Children of the Corn level shit.
  • Meet Me in St. Louis: Not highly Christmas-y because Christmas is only a small portion of the movie. But Judy Garland and adorable Tootie played by Margaret O’Brien. And the aching sadness of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas: This is a very good movie and deserves to be higher on the list, but when it comes down to it, I feel it as more of a Halloween movie. Ideally watched between Halloween and Thanksgiving.
  • The Little Drummer Boy: This is sad and traumatizing but I like the song.  And the wise men.
  • Home Alone: Another one I didn’t watch until quite recently, when I found that it didn’t live up to the hype. If you want to watch the travails of a white blond kid during the holidays with his family, watch Christmas Story. This kid is going to grow up a psychopath.
  • The Holiday (Kate Winslet’s in it): I don’t remember this and I don’t plan to.
  • Frosty Returns: No.
  • Nestor the Christmas Donkey: Why do they always kill the mom?! Also- no. It’s like Dumbo if you killed Dumbo’s mom and then released him into the bitter cold and he was saved by cherubs rather than stereotypically African American crows.

Okay, wow. That was damned harder than I expected.  Will say this: once you get around The Little Drummer Boy, they’re movies I would rather not watch.  I also tried to leave off movies that are only Christmas movies for me.
Like The Lord of the Rings. Which I was given for Christmas (in elementary?) and proceeded to watch every day all day for a long time. Until Mom was ready to kill Dad and Dad was torn between being tickled and exasperated and I still think the Ride of the Rohirim is the best thing ever. (It is).
But yes, it was really hard to order these. And it makes me realize how hard it is to choose between things you loved as a child but like less now, and more recent discoveries that are amazing but not so traditional.

Edited:// Edited to include Trading Places, which I somehow forgot the first time around!

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