So I have spent the whole day arranging for Christmas cards to be sent out (yes it is Dec 16 & half of my cards have to cross the border…wish me luck), because my husband guilted me into this after this year’s group of cards started pouring in from all of our wonderful friends & relatives (show-offs). This is what I heard. "We should really send out Christmas cards" & "Ah hon, look at the picture of so-&-so’s kids, we should really do something!" We. We. WEEEEEE. Which basically means….me! So now everyone on the list is getting a generic card (albeit a cute one, because the little guy is on the front) that I was able to create online. Oh ya, & BTW, they address, stamp & mail them for me too (I love Shutterfly). I know, its a bit of a cop-out because I actually don’t sign them myself, but I have a problem when I sit down to write out cards of any sort that I tend to be a little long-winded. I know, you are all shocked. Which is why I usually start Christmas cards a lot earlier than this, but I let myself off the hook this year, only to be put squarely back on it by the hubby. He means well.
And if this adventure didn’t put me in the holiday spirit (how could it possibly have not), then I have the 14 phone calls we received today from friends & family to tell us how much its snowing there. Bah Humbug to you all while I go put lights on my palm tree with my light spring coat on (listening to the "natives" complain about how "cold" it is).
BTW, this is what snow is to Southern Californians…
Basically a big pile of Zamboni ice in the middle of a parking lot! Check out the girl in the background with snowpants, boots, & mittens on. It was 70 degrees by noon that day!
This is one of the most difficult things for me about living in Southern California. Christmas just always seems a bit odd without snow. This girl has these slightly idealized memories of Christmas morning in Southern Ontario with tons of snow & my brother & I in snowsuits building forts & snowmen. Whether or not that actually ever happened is irrelevant, because it ain’t gonna happen here. For sure. It actually rained here last week. All day. One glorious side-effect of rain here is that it washes away all of the smog & we could enjoy the view of the snow-capped mountains for 2 whole days before the smog came back. It made me feel better that I could get to snow if I wanted to, but then again I’d need to drive there & frankly I need a whole other post to discuss driving in LA.
So what to do to get me in the Christmas spirit? Well, since I am the Movie Mommy I have mapped out the next week’s worth of evenings revolving around watching Christmas movies & specials, big bowls of popcorn (like I needed an excuse) & big bowls of hot chocolate to go with it. So come with me along the journey that will be my total and utter Christmas-ication all culminating with the Grand-daddy of all Christmas movies. Some I’m sure you’ll know, others you might be able to add as a new holiday tradition. I’d like to call it a Top Five list, but there is no way I can stick with just five. So maybe it will be a Top Seven. Or Nine.
Top Five (Seven…okay Nine) Movies to get you in the Christmas Spirit
9. Christmas Vacation. I know every joke & gag in this movie, but every year when I watch, I laugh like its all new. Personally I think this was the funniest of all of the Vacation movies & that Chevy Chase was at his comedic best (okay, we can argue on Fletch if we must). My hubby & I always remark that we are Clark & Ellen as we are constantly being invaded by our crazy families (I wouldn’t have it any other way though). I might actually start calling him Sparky.
Best Line: Clark to Cousin Eddie – "Can I refill your eggnog for you? Get you something to eat? Drive you out to the middle of nowhere….leave you for dead?
Bonus Best Line: "And why is the carpet all wet, Todd?" "I don’t know, Margot!" (the line that seems to be endlessly amusing to everyone…but me)
8. Scrooge. I had never seen this musical version of A Christmas Carol, with Albert Finney, before I met my husband. Apparently this was his fav growing up & they even watched it in school on a movie projector (remember competing over who would help wind the reels? Okay maybe just me). It is an old-style, big budget UK production with big musical numbers & tons of extras. I have grown to love this telling as well, with all of its musical goofiness. Definitely a way to get the kids to enjoy some Dickens.
Best Line: From one of the many people who owed money to Scrooge, to Scrooge’s coffin during his funeral procession (singing, of course) – "Thank you very much. Thank you very much. That’s the nicest thing that anyone’s ever done for me!"
7. A Christmas Story. Any movie that has gained such a cult following that it is shown on one TV channel continuously for 24 hrs, has earned its spot on any Top Five list. Really, need I say more about this movie?!?
Best Line: "Aunt Clara had for years laboured under the delusion that I was not only perpetually 4 years old, but also a girl."
6. Its a Wonderful Life. No list would be complete without it. George Bailey’s life doesn’t necessarily turn out the way he imagined, but his choices (made by him or for him) contributed to the betterment of so many of the lives around him. The feel good movie of the holidays. I’ll watch it after my last shopping day…I’ll need it!
Best Line: George to Mary after the dance – "You look a little older without your clothes on. I, I, I mean, without a dress you look older. I mean younger. You look, you, just…"
5. Rankin-Bass Christmas Specials. What better way to ring in the Christmas cheer than to sit down to an evening of this classic stop-motion animation, direct from your childhood? The best known ones are Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer, Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town, & The Year Without a Santa Claus. The last one has become a favourite in our house of late, as the little guy insists several times a day that he must "watch Santa Claus". It is the classic with Heat-Meiser & Snow-Meiser, & Santa Claus in a pimp suit (go check for yourself…Santa is all pimped-out). Lesser known is The Life & Adventures of Santa Claus based on the L. Frank Baum book. This one is a little trippy, with a council of immortals recalling Santa Claus’ life trying to decide if he is worthy of having immortality bestowed upon him. It is really hard to come by (only available on VHS) & seems to be a bit of a cult fav, garnering $60-$120 in online auctions.
Best Line (The Year Without a Santa Claus): Jingle (Elf #1) on phone "Oh, hi Mrs Claus. Yes Mrs. Claus. Okay Mrs. Claus. Sure thing Mrs. Claus. Right away Mrs. Claus."
Jangle (Elf #2) "Who was that?"
Jingle "That was….come on."
4. Scrooged. Honestly, Bill Murray at his best. And frankly Carol Kane as the ghost of Christmas Present is classic. Who can forget the two of them kicking the crap out of each other with toasters & other Christmas presents?!?
Best Line: Bill Murray to a stagehand inquiring how to attach antlers to a mouse. "Have you tried staples?"
3.-2. Holiday Inn/White Christmas. We are going to try to get the little guy to bed early one night & do a marathon of these two movies. Holiday Inn was the predecessor & isn’t necessarily a traditional Christmas movie (follows the story of an Inn that is only open for major holidays…President’s Day anyone?), but the combo of Bing Crosby & Fred Astaire is priceless. It is also the movie that introduced the best selling song of all time, "White Christmas." My personal fav is White Christmas (I wanted to marry Danny Kaye as a little girl), with its big production numbers & catchy songs. Plus the comedic timing of the four leads is so spot on that you will find yourself rewinding it to catch all of the quips & one-liners. They actually wanted Fred Astaire to reunite with Bing, but he either had a scheduling conflict or took one look at the script & said no, just depends on who you ask. We’ll see if we can stay awake for both!!
Best Line: (White Christmas) Rosemary Clooney to Danny Kaye & Vera Ellen, after walking in for the final dip of a particularly energetic dance number – "What is this? The best two out of three?"
1. A Christmas Carol. Yes, the Grand-daddy of them all. Well, I think if you grew up in Canada it is. And not just any A Christmas Carol, the 1951 Alastair Sim version. My hubby doesn’t quite get the importance of this one, but he’s American, so what do you expect (he he he)? The way that Alastair Sim’s face softens after he sees the error of his ways, brings tears to my eyes every time. Maybe it is more about the experience of watching this movie, than the movie itself. To get the full effect you have to watch this is on Christmas Eve. We would get to stay up late after dinner to watch this with the whole family. I think it always started late, around 9pm. I probably didn’t stay awake ’til the end most years, but afterward we would be chased off to bed by the threat of Santa skipping our house because we were still awake.
Best Line: Maid to Scrooge – "Are you quite yourself sir?"
Scrooge – "What? I don’t know. No. I don’t think so. I hope not!"
I believe that this list will get me sufficiently in the mood for Christmas, so I won’t be Bah Humbuging around after my in-laws (who will be here for 8 days…oh my)!! I’d love to hear the Christmas/Holiday movies that get you in the spirit in the comments section below. Did I miss any of your favs? Now I just need to find the time to do all of this movie watching! Popcorn anyone?!?