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Classic Family Holiday Movies

We’re taking a quick time out from party supplies here for a little off-topic fun.  The holidays are a season when families spend lots of time together.  The weather is turning colder, fall sports have wrapped up while winter sports have not yet begun, and schools shut down for the winter break.  All of these things usually mean that we are spending a lot more time together in close quarters, and a great way to enjoy some quiet time together as a family is to watch a classic Christmas movie.  There are a many movies made about Christmas, and quite a few of them have become classics.  There are a few that are staples on the network television lineup in December, like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, How the Grinch Stole Christmas. and Frosty the Snowman.  They are all classics, but are so famous that I am not including them on this list, since chances are you already know all about them!  So here are ten movies that we think are all fantastic.  Some are well-established holiday classics, and others you might not be familiar with. In any case, they are all holiday-themed movies that the whole family will be sure to love.  So start popping some popcorn, get on your cozy jammies, snuggle up on the couch, and check out the top ten holiday family movies!

1.  A Christmas Carol

There have been so many versions of Charles Dickens Christmas classic tale, from the earliest days of film.  The story was first published in 1843, and has been synonymous with Christmas ever since!  Although there are more than twenty adaptations of Dicken’s famous novella, this is our favorite.  It stars Sir Patrick Stewart, (of Star Trek:  The Next Generation fame) in the lead role as Ebeneezer Scrooge, a rich but miserly businessman living in Victorian London.  He encounters the specter of his old partner, Jacob Marley, and told that his soul is in mortal peril because of his selfish ways.  He is taught to “Keep Christmas, and keep Christmas well”  by a series of visits from three ghosts.  The Ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Yet to Come, show Scrooge the importance of Christmas, before it’s too late.

2.  It’s A Wonderful Life

What do we even say about this?  Jimmy Stewart stars as George Bailey, a man who is about to commit suicide on Christmas Eve.  As he bitterly wishes that he had never been born, a kind angel by the name of Clarence intervenes, to show him how the lives of his loved ones would have been affected, had that happened.  When George realizes that he has been important not only to his family and friends, but to his entire town, his will to live returns.  This movie has become the gold standard for movies about Christmas miracles.

3.  A Christmas Story

This 1983 holiday movie is a delightful family comedy set in small-town in Indiana, in the 1940′s.  Ralphie Baker really wants “an official Red Ryder carbine-action 200-shot range model air rifle with a compass in the stock, and this thing which tells time.”  His main obstacle is that every adult he mentions his wish to (including Santa) tells him “You’ll shoot your eye out.”  This movie is a good time for the whole family; watch it together, and never ever try to stick your tongue on a frozen pole!

4. Miracle on 34th Street

A 1994 remake of the the famous black and white version that is charming with a capital C.  An overly grown-up and slightly cynical young girl has her eyes opened to the magic of Christmas by a department store Santa Claus, who claims to be the real Kris Kringle.  The world seems bent on proving that he just a crazy old man, and tries to put him in prison, but Susan having started to believe in the possibilities of the holiday and Santa Claus is just as determined to prove that he is exactly who he says he is!

5.  The Santa Clause

Tim Allen stars as a very busy ad executive who inadvertently offs Santa Claus on Christmas Eve, and following the instructions that he finds in Santa’s jacket pocket, he puts on Santa’s suit.  What he doesn’t realize is that he has just become Santa Claus!  Despite his best efforts and not-so-good intentions to flake out on his Christmas responsibilities, he eventually comes around.  Watching Tim Allen becoming Santa, and learning the ways of his workshop with the help of the elves and other North Pole personnel will amuse kids of all ages,  and this movie’s vision of the North Pole is absolutely delightful!

6.  Santa Claus Is Coming to Town

One of the legendary Rankin-Bass holiday specials (others include, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, The Little Drummer Boy, and more) telling the story of Santa Claus.  A baby arrives on a doorstep of Mayor Burgermeister Meisterburger in the village of Sombertown, with the  name tag Claus, and a note asking him to take care of it.  The grouchy mayor wants nothing to do with him, and orders him to be taken to the orphan asylum.  While en route, the sled carrying him is blown by the wind into the forest where he finds shelter with a group of animals and elves named the Kringle family who help raise him.  He goes through many difficulties and dangers before he is able to fulfill his destiny and become Santa Claus.  This fanciful imagining of how Santa becomes one of our most beloved characters is a treat for the whole family!

7.  White Christmas

They don’t make movies like this anymore, and it is a pity.  This holiday musical follows a pair of sisters and a pair of soldiers turned famous entertainers, as they work to create a magical holiday for a retired general at his ski lodge in Vermont.  Featuring all kinds of catchy songs along with dance numbers, some romance, and a little snow, this movie stars Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney, Vera Allen, and Danny Kaye.  The final number featuring the title song is an absolute classic.

8.  The Year Without a Santa Claus

As a child of the 1970′s, these stop-motion holiday programs hold a very special place in my heart.  This one is not nearly as famous, as some of the other Rankin-Bass movies, but it is my personal favorite.  Poor Santa Claus starts to feel under the weather, and gets the with feeling that people no longer care about Christmas. So he decides that he can’t do Christmas this year.  A pair of elves, one of Santa’s reindeer, and Mrs. Claus take it upon themselves to prove to Santa that people still care about Christmas.  They enlist the help of Mother Nature, and her sons Heat Miser, and Cold Miser to assist them with their task.  Heat Miser and Cold Miser have become two of the most memorable characters of holiday specials.  Enjoy a little taste of them, here!

9.  A Charlie Brown Christmas

Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang get ready for Christmas, but Charlie Brown realizes that the level of  materialism that he sees all around him has made Christmas lose all meaning.  When he becomes the director of the school Christmas pageant to try and regain his love for Christmas, he becomes even more frustrated.  He finds a sad little tree that needs some love and brings it back, to the disappointment of all his friends. But caring for the tree coupled with Linus retelling the story of the birth of Christ, restores the gang’s Christmas spirit.

10.  Elf

This movie has become our go-to holiday movie, end of story.  This is what we watch all snuggled up right after we decorate our Christmas tree.  Will Ferrell is so sweet and earnest, and funny in this movie, that it never fails to delight us.  Will plays the character of  Buddy, who was a baby in an orphanage that accidentally ends up traveling back to the North Pole with Santa Claus on Christmas Eve.  He is raised there by Santa and the elves at the North Pole. When he grows up and realizes that he is a human and not an elf, he decides to head to New York City to find his family.  Once he gets there, he finds his father, Walter, who works for a publishing company and has no time for his current family, much less an adult son who seems crazy and dresses like an elf!  It’s up to Buddy to help Walter realize that some things need to change, and just maybe they can save Christmas at the same time!

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