Saturday, November 29, 2008


Ever so often, someone will ask me what my favorite Christmas show is. There is no easy way to answer that, since I enjoy so many. So about two years ago, I made a list (and checked it twice) of specials and movies that I enjoy over the month of December. I dug it out, made a couple of changes, and will now post it for your viewing enjoyment.

A few notes before you start reading:
1. The list is no particular order. There is no significance to listing one above the other. They are totally random and non-alphabetized.
2. I limited the list to ten (plus one special bonus), but that doesn't mean there aren't more that I enjoy.
3. You can agree or disagree on my choices or my brief summations, but be nice about it. After all, you wouldn't want a lump of coal in your stocking.
4. As in all pop-culture offerings, I urge folks to use caution. Parents, watch and discuss these with your children. In some cases (most notably Christmas Vacation), you may want to watch the "edited for tv" version instead, as it removes some of the more unsavory elements.

And away we go.....
Charlie Brown Christmas
"And that's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown." Poor Charlie Brown can't catch a break, even at Christmas time. What is so memorable about this holiday favorite is the clear, unapologetic declaration from the gospel of Luke about the true significance of the season. I don't know of too many secular shows today that could get away with that.

Jingle All the Way
"It's Turbo time!" The governor of California on the hunt for a Turbo Man action figure on Christmas Eve. Yup, it's a commentary on the insanity of marketing and merchandising. Of course, it casts a nod and a wink at the madness of Christmas Eve shopping. No, the characters don't behave very nicely. But at its heart is a touching parable of being a father and keeping promises.

A Christmas Story
"You'll shoot your eye out, kid." A slice of nostalgia featuring young Ralphie and his quest for a Red Ryder BB gun. Although set at a time before I was born, I still recognize a lot of elements from Christmas' past.

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
"Later, dudes." The idealism of Gus Griswold verses a cynical universe. I can relate to Gus' desire to have a picture perfect Christmas, as well as the frustration of nothing going the way I pictured it.

Miracle on 34th Street
"I believe." Okay, it's not rocket-science, but the "trial of Santa" is still one of the most enduring images of the holiday season, with just enough element of "is he or isn't he?" to keep me on the edge of my seat. Wow...what would John Grisham have done with this plot? (side note: much maligned and not as gripping, the modern remake is still worth a look...a remarkably innocent and faithful treatment).

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
"I'm cued, she said I'm cued!" I struggle with this tale every seems that everyone is a little hard on Rudolph. But the songs are classic and the Bumble steals the show (trivia point: why does the head elf's voice suddenly change? 1000 Teacher Tim points to the first person who has a good answer).

Frosty the Snowman
"Happy Birthday!" Another classic with a memorable story line (for the record, I cannot stand the sequels).

The Santa Clause
"Did you just growl at me?" Tim Allen in a fun story of a sales rep who becomes the big guy. It is hilarious watching his gradual transformation and attempts to explain them to this family and co-workers. The sequels were good, but I did not like them as well.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever
"Hey! Unto you a child is born!" This is mandatory viewing for all children's ministers and others involved in putting on Christmas programs. The horrible Herdmans take over the church Christmas pageant and it's up to Loretta Swit (from MASH) to ride herd. Very touching and emotional ending.

Home Alone
"Ahhhhhhggghhhh!" The highly improbable story of a kid who defends his home against a pair of burglars after being left behind by his family. This is a live action cartoon, with very creative injuries being inflicted upon the bad guys that would hospitalize a real person. But the touching reunion at the end is good, with the importance of family being reaffirmed.

In a category by itself: It's A Wonderful Life
"Every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings." Some movies rise above lists. This is one of them.

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