Our team is filled with some serious movie buffs. As one way to say we are thankful for you, our readers, this week’s R&V at the Movies is a list of our favorites – from our family to yours!
We all have different reasons for loving our favorite holiday films: a childhood memory, cinematic excellence, or maybe it just makes us feel like the holidays are upon us.
Pull up a chair with us, and catch one of our favorite movies. And hey, let us know yours too!
It’s A Wonderful Life (1946)
Growing up, my parents forced us to stay up late after decorating the tree and watch a boring old black and white movie on NBC. Flash forward 25 years and It’s A Wonderful Life is not just my favorite holiday movie, but my favorite movie of all time. Every year I learn a new lesson as I watch, and the sweetness and truth of the story crystalizes for me a little more as my own family grows.
Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
One of my very first memories as a child is going to my grandparents house on Christmas Eve and my grandfather being so excited to show me a walking Rudolph toy he bought for me to play with. To his shock, I was terrified! I was certain the blinking red nose and thin wobbly legs were up to no good. That holiday he sat me down and we watched this special together. He explained the story when seeing my uncertainty and held me close when the ‘big scary snowman’ came along. I hold that memory with me each year and continue the tradition now with my family. Although the toy is long since retired, it’s one I will always remember.
The Snowman (1982)
Holidays can be bittersweet and I remember as a child feeling such melancholy as the last few hours of Christmas night dwindled into a whole nother year of waiting to trim the tree again. We always watched The Snowman, often on Christmas Eve after we returned from a dark candle lit service at church. The music, the mystery, the depth of feeling communicated without dialogue in those beautiful hand drawn animations took me to another place, a place where Christmas glowed in our hearts always, long after the snow melted into spring.
A Rugrats Chanukah (1996)
While most holiday television programming focuses on Christmas specials, the Hanukkah episode of an animated children’s television series was groundbreaking. The episode unfolds as the Rugrats imagine themselves as the main characters in the story of the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights. I love watching A Rugrats Chanukah with my family – It’s very exciting to see your traditions reflected back at you in a warm, safe presentation.
There are too many precious quotes from Elf to pick just one that epitomizes the holiday season. But if we must: ““The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.” – Buddy the Elf
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1988)
My dad has always been a National Lampoon fan. And every holiday season, we watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation as we compare his affinity for over-the-top light displays to Clark’s.
Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
This was the first movie that has ever made me cry. I was only four at the time, but I recognized the pain the Grinch felt which made my four year-old self want to give him a big hug. Every year I watch the movie, it brings back the childhood nostalgia and the innocent compassion I have for the Grinch. Certain scenes still make me shed a tear or two, but the happy ending makes it all better.
The Polar Express (2004)
In my family, it’s a time-honored tradition to read the picture book, The Polar Express, on Christmas Eve before we go to sleep. The animated Christmas classic from 2004 is a faithful recreation of the beautiful short story I know and love. The narration from Tom Hanks is always heartwarming and the title song, “Believe” by Josh Groban is one of my favorites. The Polar Express is the only Christmas movie I will actively search out on TV and is a sweet reminder of the power, joy, and beauty that comes to those who still believe.
Die Hard (1988)
Movies have been an important love language between me and my mom since I was a kid.. But whenever I’m back in town for the holidays, we always honor the same tradition: late on Christmas Eve, we gather all the gifts and wrap presents while Bruce Willis blasts his way through Nakatomi Plaza. So yeah, Die Hard is an action movie, but for me it’s also a Christmas tradition.
The Year Without a Santa Claus (1974)
Movie Rating: PG
As a kid, my family would always make sure to watch “The Year Without a Santa Claus” together. Since that time, I have yet to find a Christmas movie with a soundtrack on the same playing field as the film that includes the tracks, “Mr. Heat Miser,” and “Mr. Cold Miser.” The animation style and trove of memorable characters fill me with nostalgia every viewing. If it’s not a family tradition, you should make it one. If not, at least listen to “Mr. Heat Miser”.